Upon reading Henning Mankell’s Wallander novels

It’s obvious —
the weather is the culprit.
Endless snow, or waiting for snow,
or discussing if it will snow,
or wading through medieval mud,
down hidden, slushy roads.
And those other nights
that are nights in name only,
quite midday bright.

The wonder is that there are Swedes
who don’t murder each other.

(Not to mention the Danes.)

P.S. Cottier



I read very little crime, and have been surprised how much I enjoy Henning Mankell’s Wallander novels, which I have read in a huge glut.  Only one to go.  So clever how he lets the reader know more than the detective for most of the books.


That’s a link to a very nice appreciation of my chapbook Paths Into Inner Canberra, written by Ian Warden. He is kind enough to write that:

‘She writes poetically, deftly and quirkily. The needle on my highly sensitive cliche-detector didn’t flicker once during my reading.’

Lovely stuff! I write hoping that I may surprise a few readers with an image or a reflection, and it is gratifying to read that this was the case with Ian Warden. Here is the cover, with a photograph by Geoffrey Dunn:
paths cover

The book can be purchased from me (for those who ride bikes/drink too much coffee at cafes), from Book Lore, Lyneham, in Canberra, or from the publisher, Ginninderra Press. It is $4 (plus postage, if you order online). It is a prose essay with two poems.

It snowed yesterday in Canberra, so I was not on my bike. Snow is an occasional surprise here, and everyone was armed with their smartphones to record the phenomenon of cold dandruff. It has never settled on the collar of the pavement, though, that I can remember.

winter strawberries
nipples in snow
limacine dreams

P.S. Cottier

I was tossing up whether to have an image of a slug or a strawberry. Looks like I opted for perky and nice with this Deborah Griscom Passmore painting of a type of strawberry called Parker Earle. Planted in the glorious field we call Public Domain.

Don’t think about that wee poem too much, or rather unpleasant images may occur. By the way, there is no shame in having to look up the word ‘limacine’, which is not a kind of expensive car. I trolled around for ages before I found ‘as ovine is to sheep, X is to slug’. And the word is perfect, I think.

Being a poet is a tough job, but someone has to do it.

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

The research scientist discovers snow

The first time she saw snow
she thought it must be a film,
perhaps that old Christmas flick shown
in forty degree December heat
— that’s celsius, she’d explain
to bemused Americans,
wearing bright badges
of innocent face —
year after turkey-stuffed
mince-pie jammed year,
as they lay on the sweating couch
too whale-like to go to the beach,
full of cold-climate food, rendered
into puddings themselves,
leaking custard from pores.
Somehow the grainy surface
of that dreadful sentimental
drifting narrative had been
projected onto the sky,
and she ran outside to greet it,
overwhelmed and underwearing.
It was another language, this snow,
as weird as a marsupial to old Europe’s
bemoused science. It was harder
than she thought it would be,
not cloud-thrown confetti
settling in pillows, but
much blunter than sand to her splayed feet.
It is not a reversed beach
at all, snow. It is not a soft bunny blanket,
or a white towel to lie on.
She felt it for the first time, this dinted
elemental heaviness, as if water had collided
with steel, a sky highway pile-up,
and felt her heart melt, for the sea throb,
and the sharp sprint to water
when sand cuts like glass, too hot for flesh,
and light spears eyes with shards of clarity.
She was suddenly blue, as she stood in snow,
shivering, clamouring for that biggest island,
crouching, sunning itself, languorous;
the world’s big browning bottom.
Her first white Christmas, and surely,
she swore, nervous bikini clutching
chickening skin, her last.

P.S. Cottier

This one was included in my first collection, The Glass Violin. I didn’t see snow myself until I was quite old, and remember reading about an Australian studying in the United States who gave herself mild hypothermia from running around in the snow without sufficient clothing.


I was reminded of this poem by the snow on my blog, the snow in Christmas cards, and generally everywhere. Meanwhile, the Australians are beating the English in Perth in 40 degree celsius heat. The visitors are melting like oddly clumsy snow. It’s a game of ashes and snow.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year, and particularly to those brave souls who have commented.

May peace and love be part of your life in 2014.

From an early age, his abilities in slip were manifest...

From an early age, his abilities in slip were manifest…

I can’t resist the combination of Christmas and cricket…

Click this feather for more poetry:

Tuesday Poem

Clumsy in love

Clumsy wears ug boots, where others don high heels,
or light reflective slippers of glass. They waltz,
all Straussy and fine in white, with froufrou and swish.
Clumsy stomps. Even his sheepskin words betray him.
He muffles passion in good intention, dags love
in a brown blanket of nag. Clumsy would be lacy,
suggestive, a slight touch between eyelash and wink.
But his eagerness clutches and grabs, rummages
for a lost gold key of ease. He speaks words
subtle as a losing barracker at three-quarter time,
pie’s warm filling dripping onto his mind’s feet.
Dreams subsist, nonetheless, in quiet fleecy nights.

P.S. Cottier


A brand new poem, this one. Unsullied by previous publication, or heavy editorial touch.

I notice that, as the temperature climbs in Canberra, my blog has had snow added by WordPress in North America. I’m leaving it here, as it amuses me to be sitting in 30 or even 40 degree heat (that’s celsius) and look at this cold confetti thrown over my words.

Particularly when the words are dealing with a person who is unlucky in love, for whom cold confetti seems appropriate.

The word ‘dags’ by the way, is usually a noun, here pressed into service as a verb by the pesky sheepdog of experiment. Look it up if you dare.

Click this black swan feather, and check out New Zealand’s peaks of poeticness. Poeticity. Rhymsteration? Just do it.

Tuesday Poem

By the way, we have sent the manuscript of The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, to the publisher, David Reiter of Interactive Publications. There will still be a lot of checking and fiddling, but as I said in a comment to the last post here, it has moved out of our grasp. I have enjoyed aspects of this process, namely, reading the poems, placing them in what seems to be pleasing patterns, and writing the introduction. Other aspects are more tedious!

I don’t think I’ll rush into anthologising again for a while.

The most amazing thing is that Tim Jones didn’t murder me at some stage in the process. Although, to be fair, I think I have slightly more of a temper on me…He is almost annoyingly patient.

This lack of murder is one of the benefits of working with someone from another country.