All Other Poets

Shane Potter

Crazy Sort'a Thing

30 November 2021

First hot day before summer
Only thirty two
Back in the day wasn't really hot
Didn't raise a lot of ta' do

But you know how ya' get that feeling
Under a cobolt haze
That it wouldnt take much to kick things off
And set the world ablaze?

There's a bite in the sun quite stinging
There's crackling dry in the air
And deep within you feel it stir
That old trauma buried there

But its only the start of summer
Or should I say, last day of spring
And surely I shouldn't be worrying
Its a crazy sort'a thing

Warm wind rustles the branches
Grasses turning brown
Wish the neighbours would slash their weeds
And knock that hazard down

Hidden fears start rising
Cos bad memories like to cling
And surely I shouldn't be worrying
Its a crazy sort'a thing...

Caroline Yabsley

Last night's false alarm.

2 April 2021

“Can’t find the courage,
I had last time”

The feeling that accompanies that thought,
Expressed last night,
When we thought we had
An out of control bushfire.

Or, rather,
The feeling that precedes the formulation of the thought,
Is what still haunts me.

An unwillingness, inability,
To dig deep
Find the fortitude
To enter the fray
Of defending from fire again.

Can’t even contemplate
A situation so extraordinary
As being monstered by fires
For so long.

Last time,
The fire plan helped.
Kept us sane,
Kept us calm,
Enabled us to do what was necessary.

We need to prepare another,
But up till now,
Have been unwilling or unable,
Too numb,
To go there again.

This coming winter
We must prepare
For fire next summer.
Start with a written plan.

Small steps.

Consider a cool burn,
With our neighbours.

Yes, practical steps,
But also small steps
To prepare, train, the mind,
Make it strong again.

Wish me luck!

Caroline Yabsley

Fires near me.

1 April 2021

Out of control fire, you say.
3 km away, you say

My body responds, and tightens
The way it did back then,
Last fires.

Go outside and look

But it’s cold, and damp,
My mind says.
No wind.
No smoke.

Can’t be fire!

Don’t care, says my body
I feel the fear

Only trouble is
I don’t have the courage I had last time.
It was all used up, last time
I can’t respond again, as I did.

It turns out....
There is no fire!

Try to sleep.
Dream once again
Of fire.

This time I am the fire
Trying to find my way into a house
Round and round the house
No way in.

Fire gives up.
I wake up
Again.

Serena Scarlett

Somewhere

22 February 2021

Somewhere it all gets reconciled
The fragmented comes together
The forlorn comes into love
The broken Whole again
Pain is suffered no more

Separated now in our silos of anguish
Doesn't need to be
Its part of a prophecy you see.

There is a Place
If you listen very carefully
In the Stillness in between
Its hidden there
Just waiting for
You & Me

Us and Them will no longer condemn
The misjudged
used and abused
will find Healing
A grand golden Giagantuois Healing

More powerful than any calamitous raucous riotous ruckus
That this human race
Keeps trying to Fuckus

Somewhere it is reconciled
The fragmented has comes together
The forlorn have found Love
What was broken is perfect and whole again

The pain too many had suffered is no more

The Peace that passeth all understanding is the new and solid Foundation.

Somewhere Angels are singing this in Exultation.

Katrina Walsh

LOSS

13 February 2021

WE CANNOT EXTINGUISH THIS FIRE.
WE WILL WAIT AND PROTECT OUR ASSETS!
Each fire starts as a tiny spark,
It feasts, roars and destroys while left unaddressed.
“I see smoke rising near the Clyde River”
“Call back when you see flames”.
A tiny spark can be attended to with minimal ‘cost’
…..with minimal effort and fast, efficient approval.
Surely this is mindful management?
Perhaps even early intervention? Proactive?
To save our assets. To save our lives?
So, what are “our assets’?
Surely the native bush is our asset?
Surely the native animals too?
I know it is ‘bush’ but it is not waste-land.
People still live there. Play there. Drive there. Seek nature there.
We breathe its air. It is our survival.
I know the bush is our asset,
Habitats that function better than the human world.
So why wait until the spark grows?
Gorging on fuel and oxygen, polluting our skies?
Why wait for more adverse weather to arrive? To make it worse?
To put it out?
Banking on rain is weak. A cop out. Been there done that - in drought.
Rain will come. But in how many days’ time?
What will the cost be for waiting?
The cost will be LOSS.
Loss of bushland
Loss of animals
Loss of lives…..people’s lives, animals’ lives
Loss of property
Loss of purpose
Loss of mind.
LOSS!
The cost of waiting will exponentially explode.
Technical term, for ‘grow out of control’.
Technical term, for ‘too hard to measure’.
Technical term for ‘too difficult to resolve’.
Technical term – it can’t be undone!
OOPS! You cant get back what is lost.
Decisions will be made in haste.
Without evidence.
Because decisions made in haste
And decisions made because “that’s what we always do”
Are no longer decisions that are considered,
Are no longer decisions that are measured, nor valid.
So, a backburn is one call. One decision made in haste.
But not one backburn. Many. Repeatedly.
Same properties came under threat from repeated backburns.
How many can one family fight?
Five, six or more over 6 weeks. Are you kidding?
Decisions. Not evidence-based.
Decisions that changed lives.
Worse than that.
Decisions, once made were with no followup.
Crews told to fall back, abandon the burn that was just ignited.
Just on what do the decision-kings base their rationale?
High winds, 45+ heat.
Dire predictions that can be seen by all.
But light a backburn anyway.
It should go to plan. Shouldn’t it?
Well, no. It did not!
Lives lost! The ultimate price.
“Sad” doesn’t cover it.
“Tragedy” – neither.
Incredulous decision?….maybe.
Irresponsible? For sure.
Reprehensible? Are there more words?
More words to describe the impact?
The feeling?
The Loss. Yes, the LOSS.

Follow your fire plan – tick.
Prepare your property – tick.
Ensure you are ready – tick.
Leave early or prepare to stay and fight – tick.
It wasn’t enough, the spark had grown.
It was never going to be enough!
A lit spark, a purpose-lit spark, a venomous spark that destroyed our home,
Our street,
Our community,
My friends and neighbours.
And what of repair?
What of recovery?
Damage in my neighbours’ eyes has not dimmed.
Damage in my neighbours’ minds has not settled.
Damage.
Loss.
Forced to ‘manage’ as a result of a decision.
Made in haste, perhaps even with good intent – initially.
But a poor decision, nevertheless.
Once that requires attention.
One that requires explanation.
One that has not been justified to me.
LOSS!
Reconsider “our assets”.
Refocus on “our assets”
Approve the commissioners’ recommendations and act on them.
Don’t just nod and say how well it was done.
Do it. Act early next time….
Please?

Kris Brennan

The anger inside me

7 February 2021

The anger inside me
Sits within my core,
Witness to wrongdoings
Will open up its door.

When it first came to visit
On that unforgettable day,
It crept into me slowly
And has never gone away.

I’ve seen so many
wrongdoings,
I’ve heard so many lies,
The authorities at all
levels,
The truth they deny.

Money can divide us
A man-made commodity
But look at the cost,
Is it the unfairness of
how its shared or
the lies to get the most?

The government allegations
of funding to be spent
on those fire affected,
But the money has ended up in the
pockets of those blue, blue electorates.

We are living in the result
of the attributes of our leaders,
Ignorance and arrogance
Are what they have shown us.

But shouldn't good beat evil?
That's how the story goes.
When will the people fightback
And the government overthrown?

My anger has injured me,
And ended friendships too,
My voice, loud and strong
in calling out the wrong,
No longer lost, no longer
content, to sit in the quiet
with all the rest.

The story is never ending
and so my anger will thrive,
Until I learn not to feed it
But how do you turn a blind eye?

The support and the care
Is available all there
in the myriad of agencies
The letterheads on my table
a maze to get through
Ive lost count of them all.

Why, you ask, are you angry?
Why, you ask, do you
carry on?
Because I have seen much
greed, young man,
Much more than I can bear.
Have you looked into the eyes
of those who have lost
and witnessed their despair?

And while I feel powerless
to correct what I think is wrong,
My anger will always come forth
like a force from beyond.
To question your ego,
To question your goal,
I cannot shut down
these emotions of mistrust,
While they continually sit silently
within the pits of my gut...

Phillipa Hollenkamp

The Cost

5 February 2021

The dulcet tones of the chainsaw
Breaks the cacophony of cicada
Worshipping the heat

The winds have felled
Yet more of the tree
The dead, the dying, the dangerous

More work to do, the list is endless
The willing hand, the empty purse
The excavator roars to life

The generator adds to the din
The shovel, the saw
The crunch of timber

The man-made fire
Continues to consume
Our time, our money, our minds

The acres of wire and wood
That need repair
The hedge, that retaining wall

My willing neighbour
Always at the ready
Helping with the load

I wish to join the fight
And help restore what's left
But work with self employ

Prevents my time at best
The weekend is all I have
For effort, sweat and grime

The mess, the weeds
The scorn of it
The many tree to replant

Its a funny thing
You work to live, live to work
I'm not sure what I do

I need time for it
To restore what's mine
I need a load of sleep

I want it back, as it was
Before my time was taken
By the beast, that is
That was

Melissa Neve

The White Sticks of Conjola

4 February 2021

Ghosts of trees now
The long drive out, means looking at them... and is just the memory, of what once was
Spiny limbs reaching to the sky
While ever I see those sticks, the memories will remain
And long into the future, seeing those senior citizens of the bush, there'll be pain in my heart, remembering that great conflagration
'We're ravaged' they say, 'exhausted', 'really trying to do our best to grow and cover our ordeal, our nakedness, our vulnerability'
Just like young ones, full of energy, those young shoots and trees are trying to take the baton from their ancestors
We're here
We're alive
We're growing
We're coming and in years to come we'll have grown right past you grandmother, grandfather
And the circle of life goes on
Life cut short, before due time, but everything that they were, ripples through the next generations
Be soothed dear heart

Caroline Yabsley

Reconnecting to Mother Earth

4 February 2021

I thought I could do it
On my own.
“Just cry a lot.
Let yourself grieve”.

The anniversary will come.
Yes, a catharsis.
You’ll feel much better though
After New Year’s Eve.

Awake New Years morning,
What’s this new feeling....
What’s this sensation.....
I just don’t like it.

......dispossession....
That’s the closest name I can give.
I’ve been severed from Mother Earth
My roots have been cut, by that fire.

By the decision I took
To walk away,
From my burning home.

Still can’t sleep,
Now there are nightmares too.
And panic attacks by day
What to do.

Can’t function,
Forget things,
Walk around in circles,
What should I do.

You know what to do...
Help is there, waiting.
Reach out for them
Let them in.

This is a full time job now,
It’s serious now.
We’ve gone to the next level.
Listen, you know what to do.

Whatever it takes.
Whatever works.
And don’t feel guilty
About taking the rest you need.

Talking therapy,
Shaking therapy,
Spiritual therapy,
Bodywork therapy.

Exercise,
Swim,
Rest and laugh with Nature,
Make music.

And sleep when you can.
During the night if you can,
Or late in the morning,
Or the afternoon.

Don’t listen to the voice
That says you should achieve more.
You are like a baby again
With what, for you, is in store

For its a full time job
To build new roots.
To reconnect to Mother Earth
Takes time, patience, and love for yourself.

And the reward will be yours
To enjoy for yourself
And to enjoy with others.

A gentle solid connection
A feeling of belonging,
In a way you’ve never felt before.
The love of Mother Earth.

Now rest……

Phillipa Hollenkamp

Conjola

4 February 2021

Seeing our story
Up in lights
Tears well up
I don't feel right

My heart beats fast
Pounding my head
Breathe the count
To relieve the dread

To see our General
And hear his words
His heartfelt love
His dedication, cause

We lost our soldier
His family too
We should be angry
With those, the few

I cannot dwell
On other issues
I have my own
Many a fissure

The film is true
It explains to all
I feel relieved
I need not recall

Justifies my heart
My head as well
The year that was
I struggled in hell

Our work at home
Is far from done
I see no end game
For me, no sun

I need to change
To see some worth
It will come, I know
I'll repair my earth

So thanks my Ash
You told it well
The slog still hard
The lake, the spell

We're not forgotten
Its hard but true
Learn from loss
Now that's true blue