‘…Transient creatures that swarm and multiply…’

Galaxies expanding —
every grass patch blinks
with five hundred petalled suns.
Bees travel between them
mining pollen from stars.
Aliens hover amongst us,
just like us in gold lust
and frantic accumulation.
For us, though,
it’s always spring,
exempt from rumours
of compromising change.
Our ears are buzzing
with far less than bees.
The canals are Martian,
quite epically empty.

P.S. Cottier


The quotation in the title is from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. The quote refers to microscopic creatures, but we shall not quibble. The canals on Mars, exploited in the poem for a pun, turned out to be mere features of topography (Here I must insert a green alien saying ‘That’s what you think!’ followed by a sinister laugh. It’s compulsory.)

Mining anything from stars would be a tad difficult, I know, but I’ll flourish my poetic licence on that one, to any cruising and literal minded traffic cops of the blogosphere.

There’s a great tradition of books about creating a breathable atmosphere on Mars, and I’m also harnessing that to a poem partly about our rabid experimentation with earth’s climate.

It’s amazing where a patch of daisies can lead you!

UPDATE: So the gutless NSW Premier has changed his mind on banning greyhound racing. Cruelty 1, Compassion 0. I’ll be interested to see what the ACT government does in response.

Spliced spork

The apple sauce
and the piggywiggy
It cries on the way
to the house of death
and the tears are sweet!
Sweet as knowledge.
Tears caught in bottles
and served with the very hog
who cried them;
married to the condiment
at the level of genes.
Spliced spork
and chickens who lay fries,
or chocolate, come Easter.
Spliced is good.
Spliced is so much nicer.

P.S. Cottier

Now even more perfect...

Now even more perfect…

This was inspired by the disgusting news that you can buy a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken, if you want to be Krowned as Kholesterol King. I imagined a pig that sheds tears that could season itself, due to the Wonders of Science being put to a gluttonous use.

The only thing that stopped my putting on 500 kilos at Christmas was the fact that I am vegetarian, and that I did at least an hour’s exercise each day. I am still too plump to be properly smug though. Please understand that.

A belated Happy New Year to all readers.

Tuesday poem: Sequential menu

November 10, 2014

sequential menu

methane farts
too many cows
thick beefy skies

thick beefy skies
drive for takeout
taste that plastic

taste that plastic
(onion rings)

gutter wrapper
sea junk flourishes

sea junk flourishes
macturtles sup
second hand meat

second hand meat
too many cows
thick beefy skies

P.S. Cottier

but not so charmingly rural

but not so charmingly rural

I like this one; parts of it were originally written for a science haiku competition, but it grew and grew like cattle in feedlots.


Currently I am co-ordinating an on-line course on writing speculative poetry for Australian Poetry, which has nothing to do with cows. I just set an exercise, and, in case anyone out there is interested, here it is:


Imagine you meet a supernatural or alien creature. In a poem, describe this being, which could be from another planet, another dimension, or another time. It, or he or she, could also be a fairy tale character, or a character from mythology.

Try and avoid cliché. For example, if you have chosen a vampire, don’t use bat or crypt imagery. Don’t put your ghost in a graveyard!

Imagine meeting it in a common situation, such as your house, walking the dog (is that actually a dog?) or at a supermarket.

How does the creature sound? Smell? These senses are just as important as how it looks. Try and be specific in description rather than using abstract terms. (For example, don’t say ‘its alien hands’, say ‘its caterpillar tentacles, slug soft yet avid’.)

Tone can be humorous, terrifying, matter-of-fact.

Any form. A haiku can say as much as a ballad. But don’t let rhyme become the main reason for the poem!

Enjoy yourselves.

Now New Zealand has weird creatures, including the flightless poet. One of them just dropped this feather onto my screen. Click it and read her or his poetry:
Tuesday Poem

Okay, the feathers have disappeared, ruining all my amusing references used for years on this blog. Please excuse! Our feathers now are ended…

When geeks were women

or one woman.
Lovelace, unknotting expectations
into programmes; cognition dancing.
Father’s couplets sounding through
the could-be Difference Engine cogs,
but twirling in pas de deux maths;
poetry dressed and transmogrified.

‘Supposing, for instance…’
you saw a computer writing music;
an Aeolian harp catching numbers,
driven by numbers, until numbers
were the musician and the song.
No mere calculator; you sang too.
Your thoughts ring in history’s ear.

Medicine lagged behind your mind,
and the small number 36
is all the years you had. Cancer
bloomed inside your womb;
a sick reminder of biology.
No algorithm could remove that fate.
The same age as your unknown father

who died heroic on the shores of myth.
Ada, when I Google you,
I think of you holding a fan
(lace as elegant as your ideas)
and I want to shout back through clogged time
to deafen sad boors who still say no:
Ada, it works! My dear, it works!

‘Supposing, for instance’ is a quotation from Ada Lovelace’s writing. Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815 – 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron, wrote the world’s first algorithm.


(Note that the first line is supposed to be properly broken into two; so that the words ‘or one woman’ occur at the extreme right of the line. My blog — or, more probably, my ancient difference engine — doesn’t seem to like cleverness today!)

Ada Lovelace was a scientist/mathematician back when women really didn’t do that sort of thing. There are still places where women don’t get any education at all, and even in highly developed countries, there are far fewer women than men who manage to occupy the highest research positions in academia.

But raise a glass to all the women who do science, including Ada Lovelace, all those years ago. Then click this link, for further poesie. You may put your glass down first:
Tuesday Poem

Science and Poetry

September 1, 2010

Three poetry books were recently launched containing poems on scientific themes.  They are called Law and Impulse (maths and chemistry) Earthly Matters (biology and geology) and Holding Patterns (physics and engineering).  The project was called Science Made Marvellous, and organised by the Poets Union Inc as part of National Science Week.  All three books were edited by Brook Emery and Victoria Haritos, and the whole project was organised by Carol Jenkins.

I have a poem about Galileo in Holding Patterns and two about the Darwins (Emma and Charles) in Earthly Matters.  As an innumerate, I found the fact that I have a poem in the physics and engineering book more than funny.

For a limited time the books can be also downloaded as free PDFs from the Poets Union website at http://www.poetsunion.com/node/806  .  (Sorry, you’ll have to copy and paste.)

Here’s my Galileo poem to whet (or blunt)  your appetite.

Galileo’s dance

Liquid turned hard, glass turned to heaven

and you saw that we must be mutable;

changed the rock sure eye of earth

into a speck, one amongst the masses,

all moving. They locked you down,

house-bound, a threat to galactic security;

to a solidity that had already mutated,

as they might have melted you on fire,

a terrorist of unrepentant reason.

So silly to say you were a still centre

from which ideas flowed. No, no,

you went far further; questioning the

questioner’s position, pulling security

blankets away from under fatty,

fixated minds of certainty.


describing detail,

you precisely put an end

to the lie that we are the answer to all.

Others would follow in the ark of wonder;

Charles waltzing hand in hand with Albert;

broad ramp providing access to genius

on wheels. Moving, always moving,

accelerating now in race-track science,

or rockets sifting star-flour for other, further Earths.

But you, with your glass, your eyes,

your paints, you showed the way.

Your gravity can still be detected,

for four hundred years is barely a blink,

a twitch in this dance without choreography.

Swinging on, we too shift, stare, move and parry

and recall long leaps first performed in Tuscany.

P.S. Cottier