The backcomber

Her hair is coiffured once a month.
Though she goes to bed unkempt,
glamour descends like a dream.
A scissored were-poodle inflicts revenge
for ridiculous, hedgy trims,
those uncouth bubbles of fur he wore,
imposed without his will.
She awakes to a memory of spray
and a beehive, tall as any tower.
Next month’s moon may well mean quiff.
Next month’s moon may just mean mullet.

PS Cottier

headpiece-scene-3-1

If I didn’t think that my next dog must be a rescue dog, I’d be buying a poodle. One of the large ones. But I don’t think I’d clip it into weird shapes like a hedge. One of the more intelligent dogs has to put up with a lot; do they envy the border collie?

One another note, I have a kind of short story, of a vaguely horrible sort, published at AntipodeanSF, called The Blood Parrot. Enjoy!

Not the full Fiat

Pushing up, lying back,
I imagine a Fiat 500
clamped to the end of my toes,
flying into space.
500cc, 500 kilos,
give or take,
that darling wee Italian.
I am at 450kg, so not
the full Fiat, not yet,
but it’s like birthing a bambina.
Or bambino, for weight
doesn’t discriminate.
My knees swell like tyres.

PS Cottier

1968-1972_Fiat_500L

Yes, possibly the boastiest poem ever. I am managing, sometimes, to load 400kg on the leg press and to push it up and back, even if not far enough down to be beautiful.  (The machine itself weighs about 50kgs, without added plates.)

The statement ‘weight doesn’t discriminate’ is a bit iffy, as obviously, most men can move more weight at the gym. Upper body particularly. But the leg press is a bit of an equaliser, I think.  Or could be, as I have to say that most women are less likely to push themselves to the point of vomiting than the current writer, who is just discovering strength at a comparatively advanced age.

I have no idea if this particular 500 is 500 kilos or not, but it looks great, and allows me to include the word Spotto!  Which has to be a good thing.

(Image by TTTNIS Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.)

Feral

Feral is the weed that walks hops or swims
that we seeded here first of all.
Like weapons in Afghanistan to fight Russians,
they shoot back against the giver, given time.
The irony in the soil, the punch-line
that keeps moving.
They are the spoonful of toad that never
helped the sugar.

The feral is the new devil;
we burn them, use their live bodies for cricket,
run them over.
They are our scapegoats, scapetoads, scapecarp,
whipping boys for our royal, stupid selves.

Varmint, pest, pets gone wild, rejigged —
dancing to their own tune.

PS Cottier

shriek-timidity

Continuing thoughts about what is a weed from my last post, this week I touch on feral pests, with which Australia is now teeming, after 200 years of colonisation/invasion.

Cane toads are probably amongst the most famous, although even cats multiply like mice (ew!) here, and feed on parrots and lizards and all the tiny marsupials that most Australians in cities have never seen.

I am working on a sequence based on this; though trying to organise my thoughts is like teaching cane toads manners.  (And that’s not a cane toad above, but it is a cool illustration, courtesy of the wonderful resource Old Book Illustrations.)  The guy peeping at the main figure is 100% Gandalf, and I’m sure he has Powers over toads.

Either that or he uses them for their interesting secretions.

Firstly, if you want to hear me talk about poetry at some length, and read a few poems, please go to the Verity La podcast.  Michele Seminara and Alice Allan are the interviewers/fellow discussants, which means that they like hurling questions like flattened orbs, but in a polite kind of way.  I am just getting up the courage to listen to myself.

Secondly, I was in a most excellent night at The Salt Room on Friday 23rd September.  I was the first reader, armed with lectern, and stayed rooted to the spot, even if my poetry didn’t.  I read about fantastic creatures and climate change.

Then came Miranda Lello, who read a long poem, or poetry sequence, called Election Day 2086 (a memoir, a map), which she had written for the reading.  She also made a zine specifically for the night.  The election described in very grounded in Canberra, but a Canberra that stands as a kind of ghost of the current one.  Black Mountain Tower

‘…rises from the forest pointing
To our neo-retro-future selves
Empty for decades beaming signals to the stars –
Stories of school groups’ noisy chattering
The cruelty of children…

She is a great reader/performer, and I enjoyed her travels in time, and the way she recasts the very familiar in a slip of unfamiliarity. She needs no magic call box. Or lectern, either!

Scott Wings also dealt with time, but for me his use of space was the most remarkable thing; his crawling up a tree by lying on the floor, his pacing the room, so that even the shyer people up the back were made part of the performance.  If you gave Scott a lectern, I think he’d probably use it in some unexpected way.  His work is quite moving, too, dealing with aspects of his life and how he came to poetry.  Here we all are:

salt-room

Joel Barcham and Andrew Galan were their usual form of excellent, too, and I am very happy to have been asked to read at The Salt Room.

Yesterday (and thirdly) I went up to Sydney for the  inagaural  first Poetry at Sawmillers reading, and enjoyed the brief taste of the lower north shore.  Some really good poetry read and performed, and I’ll post a link to the winner’s poem if it is published.  For me, sitting at a local pub with a view of a bay and a bridge, sipping booze was so pleasant I can imagine another poet, say SP (“Sippy”) Cottier, who would miss the reading and simply stay on the terrace, sunning herself like one of the lizards living under the succulents on the deck who have no idea that they have a view worth about 3.5 million dollars.

But I am not that poet, and really enjoyed reading my poem, which I present forthwith:

7 ways to look at a sculpture

Firstly, it seemed a frozen poem,
which I read in different drafts
as I skirted around it.

Then it was time captured,
as if to trap the watchers,
and so release us from fervent rush.

By Wednesday I saw it more
as a mere mirror to catch
any cracked thought I threw at it —

but the next day it restated
its being as a question, set to
disrupt our certainties with what?

Friday, it seemed to push up the sky,
a small, persistent fist clenched
against wind and mess and change —

but this changed on Saturday.
The grass seemed to give birth to it
as tulip, rocket and shining tree,

which unfurled into beauty
on the stretching, languid, seventh day,
an exclamation, an endless ah!

P.S. Cottier

Now I am off to stare at the Verity La site to see if I’m brave enough to listen to me.

***I have also received my new chapbook, and will post about that very soon.  That’s a fourthly.

UPDATE:  I listened to the podcast and I’m not as inarticulate as I had feared.  I particularly like the discussion on ecopoetry and climate change.

 

Perfect words

Sometimes they reach out
caress with syllable fingers —
egregious is my long term love
half egret feathers with the jus
noise saucing the end,
despite the meaning
or because it’s such a better way
to say doubleplusbad.

Gnarly enchants, with that
drowning g, wiping out
in the endless surf of the ee.
What wetsuit could protect,
what board shorts deserve
the sweet yet egregious sea,
with the tincture of shark grin
and the promise of release?

P.S. Cottier

grandville-hospital

That illustration is most egregiously gnarly, and not AMA approved.

***

Here’s a photo in a different key, of Susan Hawthorne and Lizz Murphy who were participants in a discussion on The Poetics of Politics which was part of The Canberra Writers Festival.  I moderated the session on Saturday, and it went well, I think. We covered quite a lot of ground, and read several poems.  Later I thought about the event, and I realised that all the speakers and questioners had been women, which was a first, in my experience, at a mixed gender event.

Here are Lizz and Susan at Tilley’s après the panel.  They both ate.  I drank, and had a quiet evening watching horrendous Swedish murders being solved Nordically.

Lizz and Susan

And here’s another one before the wine at the end of the event itself; thank you Gina Dow.

CWfest1