French police cut soles off migrant children’s shoes

And some would say
the illegality would be to the property,
the abused ownership of the shoes,
not the feet, blistered by hope,
the minds, yearning; the law’s barriers
are clear, clear as any fence.
Dubbed illegal, shoes truncated,
the children are sent back on trains.
Sole-less shoes are the new sans culottes,
as the French police cut the fashion.
And we, smug, tut-tut, and lock
the lame and the pregnant off-shore.
We cut the map, turn the sea into walls.
We are surgeons of souls, and watch,
as young men take the final step
and launch themselves, shoeless,
into another world, with hidden knife,
or rope, knot, and quick-flipped chair.

PS Cottier

The poem’s title derives from a headline in The Guardian, 15-6-18,


Normally I’d be posting a football poem at the moment, however this piece in The Guardian engendered a poem admittedly about feet, but most definitely not about the beautiful game.

Belated Tuesday poem: (tanka)

November 11, 2015

She thought Paris
was a city of couture
modelling thin —
the Place de la République
where McDonald’s fashions fries

P.S. Cottier

glasses and cup

The photo has very little to do with the poem. Honestly.

Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets by pressing here.

Next week: Exegesis and tea.

Just a Captain Cook*

Slick, fertile pages of ever-sunny blooming brochures
slip through her avid fingers. She dreams, charts and plots
trips she can never take. From these drifting mind-spores
she grows a giant ship-mushroom and visits hot-spots;
deep-tanned Fiji, jungly Vanuatu and accented ‘France
of the Pacific’, the model thin, elegant exclamation
of la Nouvelle Calédonie. Oh, the tight clenched dance
she dances, the deep-shelf oceanic love she finds, from
one sun-bathing island to the next! Tough travel agents
recognise addiction, her joyous, fungal procrastination,
and refuse to meet those longing, sea-kissed eyes. Graven
idols, their books are like shiny trinkets flogged at micro-nations.
She knows, they know, she can’t go; only sigh and contemplate
the spiced salad of rain-forest, and the waltz of ideal mate.

P.S. Cottier

*Captain Cook is rhyming slang for look.

Unlike the woman in that poem, I recently returned from a cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Ah cruising. Where you get to watch people who should be on a diet of water and grapefruit and the occasional bread roll on special occasions scoffing down lunch at one restaurant, so they can waddle almost quickly to the buffet and scoff some more.

Actually, my recent cruise did me much good, as the surrounding atmosphere of rolling obesity led me to rediscover the gym. My husband went twice a day (well, he eats meat, including bacon, so that’s only appropriate). I only managed a few kilometres walk outside each day (and stuck to fruit for breakfast) but I did venture into the gym and remembered what I loved about weights: namely pushing oneself until one almost needs to vomit. And having unacknowledged, one-sided, nonsensical competitions with twenty-five year old men. I must really like losing, at some level.

Upon return to life as a landlubber, I have enrolled in a gym where they ring you up if you don’t show up for a session. I have recently lost weight, so it seems a good time to pick some up. I start tomorrow. It will either kill me or make me indulge in the strong weighty drug of cliché.

Speaking of which, I also rediscovered cocktails on the cruise, which contain absolutely no calories at all. I remembered what I love about them: namely pushing oneself until one almost needs to vomit. No, not really. I love having just the one. (That is so beyond a lie.)

We saw some beautiful places on the trip, including the Isle of Pines, where I went snorkelling on my birthday. I also inflicted my French on the locals, and I’m glad they didn’t declare war on Australia as a result. Here I am later that day, hopping into my one drink for the evening. (If you still believe that, I toss a mixture of pity and contempt in your direction with my soon to be stronger, Glenn McGrathy, arms.)

I am sitting up too straight for this to a be true representation

Yes, occasionally the thought ‘is this a good thing to be doing?’ intruded itself into my head. Particularly when we stopped (sorry, ‘anchored’,) near The Isle of Pines and I realised that there were probably more people on the ship than usually live on the island. So very many mostly happy Australians decamping en masse (seasoned with a bevy of New Zealanders and a few inexplicably svelte Japanese). How does a cruise ship impact upon the local culture and the environment? Is it a better way to travel than flying? (At least we caught the train to Sydney. Not many cruise ships leave from Canberra, for some undeclared but possibly nautical reason.) When these thoughts threatened to break upon the tiny Isle of Cogency, you can probably guess how I dealt with the situation.

Have you ever had an Amaretto Sour?

Tuesday Poem
Press this feather for posts outside the vile and fatuous circle of ‘lifestyle’.

Trail of disinformation

August 18, 2011

Must find accent key...

Trail of disinformation

P.S. Cottier

‘Does it really matter, love?  After all, we’re talking about a snail, aren’t we?  I put down bait for them.  Or squash them.  It’s them or my veggies.’  Bill smiled, ate a peanut, and drank a little more beer.

‘It’s a special snail.  A green one. Tiny.’  I sounded vaguely desperate, and I knew it.

‘But it’s still a snail, green, orange or purple.  Rainbow even.  I just don’t see the point, worrying about an ugly little bugger like that.’

Bill had hit the nail, or the snail shell, on the head.  We were just talking about ‘ugly little buggers’.  We wanted to prevent the development of a proposed mine because of the presence of rare miniature green snails, only found in one small pocket of rain-forest.  If it were koalas, once the subject of a bounty, we would have been national heroes.  A rare species of bird would be understandable.  Everyone can see beauty in a bird.  But a mollusc is quite a different kettle of fish.  Too far beneath our eyes to count.  Too near our feet.

It was Jennifer, my best friend and fellow conservationist, who came up with the idea to give our campaign to save the habitat of the endangered snail a certain indefinable…je ne sais quoi.

I knew we were onto a winner the next time I ran into Bill at the pub.  He was reading the newspaper, the one that Jennifer had just leaked her ‘secret information’ to.  It trembled in his hands.  I noticed that he wasn’t smiling, or cracking jokes like errant carapaces amongst the beans.  Indeed, he seemed a little angry, a little red in the face.

Bill turned the paper over so I could read the article he had just read.  I had to cover my nascent smile as I read:

French offer to take Aussie snails

 This paper has heard that an offer has been made, through official channels, for all the endangered miniature green snails in the area currently being considered for the development of a new mine to be removed and relocated to France, at the expense of the French Government.  It is hoped that the species may prove edible.’

‘Bloody cheek’, said Bill, as he took a long drink of beer.  ‘They’ve got their own snails.  Poor little buggers.  Why do they want to steal ours?’

He’d forgotten his previous comments about pellets and gardening.  We had wrapped the miniature green snail in the flag, rendered it as Australian as the kangaroo.  We eat them, but that’s different, apparently.

Despite vigorous denials from the French embassy, the story stuck.  The public was outraged.  Next week, the Government officially declared the snail habitat protected.

And deep in the bush, the tiny snails act out their slimy lives, safe from the development of a new tin mine.  And of course, safe from any forced repatriation to the restaurant rich and risky boulevards of Paris.