After wonderland

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Alice looks back
Since furniture regained its proper size
and animals ceased to speak;
since teapots evicted rodents
and the Queen became so very nice
I find myself looking back
more and more and more.

Everything now is normaler and normaler,
and normalcy has its limitations.
I play patience, play it out,
wishing that the cards would rise
and assume that manic thinness,
that monarchy would lose itself
in ordering the loss of heads
for no known reason.
But we have assumed the robes,
the tight beige robes of logic.
Mathematics begets statistics,
measuring the mundane.
One day we'll hear again
of these parallel places,
rabbit holes or worm-holes,
and falls into other worlds.
For now, I corset myself in common-sense
and stuff memory into quotidian hats.
–P. S. Cottier

Tipping the balance
There are laws of shouldn't and laws of can't:
an apple falls if it wants to or not,
a careful driver keeps within the limit
though deadly speed lurks poised at the point of his toe.
Now suppose the world were topsy-turvy
and laws of must became mere laws of might
and vice versa. At secret diving pools
brash outlaws leap from towers,
twist and pike and pause mid-air
before returning to their perch to dive again
and never once to splash.
In lonely airport lounges tired businessmen dream
of a wondrous world where assignations
with women not their wives
bring frisson to their work-a-day lives.
Addicted to youth, the furtive few who refuse to age
move from town to town and change their names
to keep their frightful, selfish crime from public gaze.
Defying all conventions, freedom fighters
turn government bullets round mid-flight,
disarm all bombs at will, and lob grenades
through feet-thick solid walls.
Commuters, never late for work, buy train and tram tickets
because they must, and bully boys
who in some other world might have been transport cops
are left without a job at all, while weaklings,
not respecting strength, kick sand in the faces of muscle men.

Since no-one cheats and no-one steals and no-one kills
police and courts are left to catch and try
those who will not breathe or eat or never die; though
disrespect for prison rules means convicts stroll
through jail-house walls and keep the chasing hounds at bay
by choosing not to leave a scent.
Law-makers, whose power knows no bounds, resist the public calls
to make all arrogance and lies against the law.
No tax-evaders, no dole cheats; and only the law-abiding
need rug up against a winter's chill or shield themselves
from UV rays. A better world, you think?
But the world as it is is all we have:
the reckless and the powerful can flout all man-made laws,
while half the things that kill us can't be stopped.
Still, wondering costs nothing. To tip the balance back in dreams
is only human and feeds a hunger that shouldn'ts and can'ts
cannot assuage. This is a proper job for poetry;
while in our trudging, waking lives
we dine on the plodding prose of what we can and will.
Jeff Klooger

P. S. CottierP. S. Cottier is a Canberra based poet and writer. Her latest book is A Quiet Day, a collection of short stories published by Ginninderra Press.

Jeff KloogerJeff Klooger's poetry has been published in his native Australia and internationally. Recently his work has appeared in Island, Otoliths, Sketch, qarrtsiluni and YB. His other interests are music and philosophy. His book on the ideas of the Greek-French philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis was published in 2009. 

Topic tags: new australian poems, P. S. Kottier, Jeff Klooger, Alice looks back, tipping the balance



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Existing comments

Thank you, P. S. and Jeff, for your 'parallel places' and 'proper job for poetry'. Now I'm looking out for your books.
Eleanor Massey | 10 June 2010


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