The peculiar comfort of aliens

PS Cottier

When people seem unbendable —
foul machines for inflicting hurt,
I have often contemplated
the inexhaustible variety
of aliens; their tentacles,
soft as a face-washer
or Kraken grabby, the obvious
tank-like trundle of a Dalek
(before they came in colour)
a planet as sentient creature,
or aliens who will end it all.
Aliens of various genders
unconcerned with propriety.
Aliens floating, aliens squashing,
aliens who don’t give a toss
for our petty, angsty Earth.
There is a loveliness to all this creation,
daring to think beyond our brains,
to reknit guts and resew skin;
Mary Shelleys of the stars.
Aliens frolicking over pages,
erasing hurt, even when they’re good at it.
Sometimes it’s a relief
to read of creatures who suck brains
or annihilate planets,
leaving depressions only
where there were once buildings,
where people worked, or cried.
Give me an alien, I say;
a nice way to re-jig reality
into a new recipe.
Just add a pinch of escape.
The days will taste a lot less grey.

Sometimes it seems imperative to imagine a way of being outside the limitations of our own body, brain and senses.  A dog, at once familiar and yet completely unknowable, allows us to imagine the world slightly differently, nose down and immersed in a web of scent.  Further afield, aliens beckon in all the ways they can be written, providing a sweet release from the everyday, even if (or particularly if) they are terrifying or profoundly unpleasant.

PS Cottier is a poet living in Canberra.  Her most recent books are Monstrous (Interactive Press) and Utterly (Ginninderra Press), both 2020. PS Cottier reviews books for The Canberra Times, and will be the Poetry Editor at that newspaper beginning in June.  She blogs at, and wrote a PhD at the ANU on images of animals in the works of Charles Dickens.

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