Reading the frog economy

My poem ‘Reading the frog economy’ was just published in Plumwood Mountain, an online journal specialising in ecopoetry and ecopoetics. It’s a slippery wee beast of a prose poem, so hop on the webs (as in froggy feet, ha ha sorry!) and check it out, along with all the other poems in Volume Three Number One, as selected by Tricia Dearborn.

This frog is urging you to check it out,or he will turn into into Donald Trump, which would be somewhat less than ideal.


I do not understand this image…


perched on a log
damp bark transfers water —
my pink frog bum

P.S. Cottier

I do not understand this image...

I do not fully understand this image…

Now that damp croak of a poem was written at a great event which was held in O’Connor, just up the road from where your poetic blogger lives. (That’s me, if you were wondering.) A group of people met, heard about the wetlands and haiku, and wrote a brimming bucket of the tadpole poems.

The event was organised by Sarah St Vincent Welch (writer) and Edwina Robinson (Urban Waterways Coordinator). There are lovely photos and more poems at the following link, including some more serious ones. But I am particularly chuffed by the photo that follows on from the poem, in which I am indeed perched on a log.

Canberra is a very lucky city, with features such as the urban waterways in the inner city. (If you are imagining a city such as Paris, or Sydney, please don’t. Canberra is not that type of place at all.) The waterways return some of the creek that flowed through this area to a more natural state after it was concreted at some stage. Philosophically, it is an interesting question whether these recreated ponds are ‘natural’, but I am pleased that they exist.

Similarly, is haiku in English actually haiku? Is a haiku that contains a rhyme a proper haiku? Should we worry about such notions of form and purity?

Or should we just play?

Press this feather, fly to New Zealand, and read even more poetry:

Tuesday Poem<

Mouth brooding

In damp mulch, he swallows young like knowledge.
In a quiet vocal sac (now choked from croak)
they flow into commas, hoping to punctuate
the forest’s leafy library of tales. He spits!
Out pops a haiku of wiggle,
a soft finger of amphibian,
pooling into an anthology of puddle.
Seven froglet booklets, sprightly as thoughts,
swim towards their future. Must this language,
this webbed poem, be forever lost?

P.S. Cottier

Hop in! There's no recycling either.

The mouth brooding frog, of Chile and Argentina, also known as Darwin’s frog, is related to the gastric brooding frogs (I am not making this up) that used to live in Australia but which are now presumed extinct. The female gastric brooder would swallow her young; the male mouth brooder does the same sort of thing, but in a slightly less thorough way. I believe there were two types of gastric brooding frog, both now gone, as recently as the 1980s. I have to check this, but I believe that the cane-toad which continues to munch its way through a lot of our wild-life, may originally have come from Chile, via Hawaii. (Our fault, not Chile’s!) So there’s another terrific amphibian link with that country.

Here’s a link to an Australian site with information about frogs and frog conservation. And an American one. You’ll have to google it yourself for elsewhere.

For more poetry, hopefully less depressing, hop over (sorry, it’s addictive) to the Tuesday poem site, by clicking this feather:
Tuesday Poem

Hip hop before hip hop

November 22, 2011

Australia’s loss of frog species is, I believe, the worst in the world.  We have lost the gastric brooding frog.  The corroboree frog, a species that lives in the few really cold parts of the country, is the subject of directed conservation efforts, yet one wonders how it will cope with climate change.  Here is a flyer (hopper?) for a US frog poetry competition, because the problem isn’t confined to Australia. Click to enlarge.  Here’s their web-site. I have no connection with this group, but it seems like a good way of  encouraging people to think about conservation; I’m putting the poster up at my daughter’s school.

Following below is a poem about a wonderful night when I saw a road covered with frogs in a jumping carpet.  It is biologically inaccurate, but I tried to capture the sense of wonder that came with what seemed like a million frogs.  I wonder how long we will continue to see this type of natural phenomenon?

Frogs at Durras

We bought a house, feeble fibro shack,

walls thin as a yacht’s, teetering near the sea.

The second time we drove there, slowly,

tentatively, nosing towards ownership,

a rough jagged rain sawed through twilight.

We wondered if the house could survive.


Turning the corner, our eyes jumped,

jerked at a million tiny frogs revelling in rain,

the black streaming street a foaming river.

Each raindrop a watery egg, containing

tadpole, exploding into perfect frog

as it hit the tarmac, transmogrified.


I ran ahead of inching car, scooping throbbing fistfuls,

placing them on nature strip, dividing green from black.

And still they splashed and clung to sodden tar,

each splayed finger reading braille on the rough road;

indecipherable invitation to party, or to climb, perversely,

the dark warm curves of the sudden crushing car.


Three years later, we sit in heat, and await the frogs

never seen since the Walpurgis abandon, that abundant night.

Sometimes we have heard them, piping, tinkling, muted bells,

signalling to each other, chirruping reminders

as they wait beneath rocks, huddled in just damp dark

that all droughts must break.  Our house still stands.