I wrote this one before reading how four miners have died in Queensland this year. Appalling to think that people are dying like that; something is obviously very wrong.

Makes my last line seem a little optimistic, and the illustration of nineteenth century safety lamps seem appropriate.

The canary, the pony, and the man

It sounds like a joke’s first line,
a trio who walked into a bar.
But no, these are the three who
went below, swung down from the light.

One was there to pull loads
through dark roads carved
far from the sun, far from meadow,
half horse and half mole.

The bright bird, born for the sky,
would die first if the air was turning.
Now he is mere metaphor, cliché;
canary in the coal-mine has had his day.

Only the man still mines.
Each day he dives down to work,
amongst rich minerals and dust —
every day rising like Lazarus.

PS Cottier


What a year for disasters.  New Zealand, Japan, the recent storms in the United States, and, of course, the catastrophic floods in Queensland.  There are probably many more too, but these four are the ones I’m most familiar with, perhaps because they happened in developed countries, which tend to get more attention in the media.  But wherever such events occur, the suffering is undeniably real.  And to have a disaster in one’s own country means a certain responsibility to help in some way rests on those who were not affected.

I am very proud to have a tiny story called ‘Beating creativity’ (so flash, if you blink, you’ll miss it) in the book 100 stories for Queensland, which will raise funds for the Premier’s Flood appeal.  The book will be launched on 3rd May, and will cost $19.99, and you should be able to order it through your local bookshop soon after that.  Or you will be able to go here to find out how to order the book electonically, as a hard copy or an ebook.  Here is some more information about the project, from the home site:

“One hundred beautiful stories. Our stories. When so much was lost or destroyed, this was created. That’s something that can never recede or wash away.” ~ Kate Eltham
CEO of The Queensland Writers Centre

100 STORIES FOR QUEENSLAND has something for everyone, from slice of life to science fiction, fantasy to romance, paranormal to literary fiction. Heart-warming, quirky, inspiring and funny the stories between these covers will lift readers to higher ground.

ISBN (Print): 978-0-9871126-2-0
ISBN (eBook): 978-0-9871126-3-7
Pages: 316
Dimensions: 229x152mm
RRP: A$19.99, US$19.99, ₤9.99,  €9.99

UPDATE:  There will be a slight delay with the hard copy.  Best to go to the 100 stories link in the blogroll (or here) for further details.  The hard copy book can now also be ordered from Amazon.