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The peculiar freedom of being overlooked



Selected poems



In the back of this poem

                     there’s a dog, 

not a kelpie, balancing,

but a fat Staffie, snuffling.

The poem goes fast around corners.

It picks up words and slings them

into the back (move over fattie!)

There’s room in the front for two,

but it’s better when the poem drives itself,

not Tesla-y, but with its own unseen hands.

It grips the wheel, at 10 and 2.

Red as any riding-hood, red as pox,

this poem revs its V8, musically,

and sometimes even plays its horn.

A utility poem, it can do all sorts.

Climb in the tray (move over fattie!)

lie down snug, lest there be cops,

and it’ll take you out, out for a spin,

far from any pastoral routes,

into the clustered streets

and through slim, light volumes of thought


The edge of empty 

2050 A.D.


The last of his kind is the

last to feel the bark loofah

rubbing paws as he mounts up,

tasting tangy eucalyptus —

muted green contrasting 

with the epic blast of taste 

his rotund kind have eaten

twenty-five million years or so.

Our eighteenth mega fire got them all,

we think, except for this old one,

clinging on, climbing his zoo-tree,

dozing half his life, unaware

of the idea of finality.

Lonely, perhaps, but not with dread

leaden knowledge, which crawls into

our minds quicker than any koala.


Yes, we search and search,

tell ourselves how large the land,

hoping for another, hoping that it

is a she, so just possibly, one more

pouch might hold marsupial glee —

that there may be more than this he,

slumbering towards extinction.

Ten million dollars should another 

climb the tree as well, render idiocy

just a little more bearable,

and line the pockets of the finder.

But for now, one tree, one beast,

and the word last, tying precarious

now to an empty, sullen future.

Will gum trees soon be unburdened

with soft grey clouds, sleeping?

The eclectus parrot

Eclectus roratus


The female is mostly red, 

a painted nail crimson,

the male a fervent green. 

That the female is gaudier 

has caused experts experty angst.

Bird-males tend to strut their stuff;

the packed anthologies of peacock tail, 

the male rifle-bird shooting glory, 

even the head-bobbing boy pigeon,

amongst pie-crusts, sauce and chips.


Female eclectus flicked through mags, 

haute couture, noted women glowing,

and said I'll have a bit of that!

She spread colour over herself

lipstick bright, with epaulettes

and coverts of purple and blue;

Napoleon to her own self

in beauty’s glorious army.

The male’s piping green would normally

stop ships, loose nets, drop jaws,

but next to her, he seems so plain.

He has shifted the burden of flamboyance.

He relishes the peculiar freedom 

of the male being overlooked — 

that rarest dimorphic joy.



P. S. CottierPS Cottier lives in Canberra. She reviews books for The Canberra Times and writes the occasional short story, as well as poetry. Her latest poetry collections are Monstrous (Interactive Press) and Utterly (Ginninderra Press) both published in 2020.

Topic tags: P. S. Cottier, poetry



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Existing comments

Thanks, finely calibrated poetry. "Sidedness can be apparent into two different ways. First, in terms of the individual: humans, parrots, and some other animals can exhibit sidedness, being either left- or right-handed or footed (parrots) ("Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird" by Tim Birkhead).

Pam | 27 April 2021  

A country boy who has lived most of his life in the city (so Australia ... the world's most urbanised nation), I enjoyed this set of three. Thank you

Ian Fraser | 28 April 2021  

lovely poems of our time -serious but quirky; contemporary but not the usual soap box items; engaging; endearing but not sentimental; deep but drowning not an inevitable option.

alan roberts | 28 April 2021  

'He has shifted the burden of flamboyance. He relishes the peculiar freedom of the male being overlooked — that rarest dimorphic joy.’ Joy indeed when nobody questions Karl Stefanovic’s brain for wearing the same suit every working day of the week.

roy chen yee | 28 April 2021  

"Bird-males tend to strut their stuff;".... Unless they're male Emus that sit on the eggs laid by the larger and deeper coloured females, which don't sit. Male Emus need to be plainer so that they better camouflaged when sitting.

Bruce Stafford | 30 April 2021  

Thanks for the appreciative and informative comments.

Penelope Cottier (PS) | 05 May 2021