Melissa Neve
melissan.JPG

Melissa has lived in Lake Conjola for nearly two years and is a Counsellor specializing in Couple’s and Relationship therapy. Initially, Melissa focussed on counselling and area visits with residents and displaced residents after the fires. Recognizing a community need for consistent information for the displaced who were not on social media and those isolated, due to age, geography or lifestyle, during the recovery, she conceived the ‘Conjola Recovery’ newsletter and was the editor for Issues 1-10. Melissa was inspired to write poetry on this site after the fires and refers to Stephen as ‘The Maestro’!

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

Through the rain

29 December 2020

So Christmas is done for another year
Still I wonder…did we get...enough Christmas cheer?
To hold us intact and venture into New Year
Such a change with rain in our village
And I watch as rain falls and I give a wry smile
The irony of that not lost, as we waited quite a while
To see if years end would give another trial
12 months too late for the village
But it’s here and it’s welcome and I’m thankful every day
Just a sweet hand to soften the reminders of those days
And that sky is more beautiful, especially as it’s grey
Relief at that rain in the village

Bushfire Brain

27 August 2020

My 'bushfire brain', really tries to do
All the many things it’s ‘supposed’ to do
But all the things I should not delay
I might have to leave, for another day
I don’t want to work or file or plan
I just want to garden on our bit of land
And forget the year that’s nearly through
How do you forget, when it lives with you?
I want to have fun and be light and easy
But it’s heavy at times and I’m so uneasy
Surreal, a fog, a daze describes it
‘Just be kind to yourself’, I need constant reminders
‘Just take that day and potter, forget’
‘And visit and laugh and be free, not too set’
‘Reward yourself with some little project’
‘And enjoy the day and be in the moment’
Is just the good medicine I prescribe for my brain
To let it come back to that safety again
To rest itself from its cortisol load
It’s an important part of this long, bumpy road
Oh, to vanish from here on a grand vacation
And to set out for months all across the nation
But the damn pandemic has us all at home
Wonder when I’ll get out of the ‘corduroy zone’?

Bushfire Brain

26 August 2020

My 'bushfire brain', really tries to do
All the many things it’s ‘supposed’ to do
But all the things I should not delay
I might have to leave, for another day
I don’t want to work or file or plan
I just want to garden on our bit of land
And forget the year that’s nearly through
How do you forget, when it lives with you?
I want to have fun and be light and easy
But it’s heavy at times and I’m so uneasy
Surreal, a fog, a daze describes it
‘Just be kind to yourself’, I need constant reminders
‘Just take that day and potter, forget’
‘And visit and laugh and be free, not too set’
‘Reward yourself with some little project’
‘And enjoy the day and be in the moment’
Is just the good medicine I prescribe for my brain
To let it come back to that safety again
To rest itself from its cortisol load
It’s an important part of this long, bumpy road
Oh, to vanish from here on a grand vacation
And to set out for months all across the nation
But the damn pandemic has us all at home
Wonder when I’ll get out of the ‘corduroy zone’?

Ah Stephen! Stefo! Stefano!

3 June 2020

Love how you put yourself out there
Without fear or favour
Refreshingly honest
Come what may

Whether folks turn off
Whether folks turn on
We’re tracking your process
Almost daily it seems

The words often confront me,
But mostly delight me
And definitely inspire me
To find my own voice

Inspiration fires inspiration
So many are writing
From near and from far
To speak their own truths

Continue your writing
Articulating and inspiring
Courage and boldness
So welcome for me

They say be yourself
And the right people find you
So glad to have found you
In this weirdness we’re in.

A Story of a Fire

16 May 2020

I was licked by fire
I never saw the flames
I ran down to the water’s edge
I drove into town

I rescued three birds on the long beach march
I lost my beloved cat
I fled east in a neighbours boat
I drove through smoke and flame

I stood and watched helicopters above
I saw a sea plane drinking
I finally met my neighbours
I lost my one true love

I drove many roads to get out of there
I had to drive back home
I asked for help, but none had water
I drained a swimming pool

I was alone fighting the fire
I stood with neighbours and we fought together
I was right at home
I was stuck so far from home

I saw embers in the night sky
I saw it take my home
I couldn’t see where it came from
I could see it making its way

I sat and heard many stories
I can’t hear another word
I saw a lake of water I could not use
I had not one drop of water

I was rescued by a jet ski
I made my own way out
I haven’t cried one single tear
I still cry everyday

I wasn’t here, but I came back to nothing
I was here, but it passed on by
I go to sleep and see the flames
I cannot sleep one wink

I waited for it to come to us
I took my hose to the front
I remember my dad’s kookaburra bookends
I lost so much it’s a blur

I wondered about my family and friends
I held my children tight
I lay down on the grass exhausted
I had no time, to rest

I watched it take things in a matter of minutes
I watched it smoulder for more than a month
I crossed the ocean mouth to get back home
I waited hours, on a windswept beach

I saw the sun as a red stop light
I saw smoke that blocked the sun
I lost a treasured mate
I made new friends that day

I didn’t even know anything had happened
I saw too much to comprehend
I watched the trees turn black before me
I saw glimpses of blue sky

I noticed birds sitting as statues
I noticed all the animals had vanished
I heard the roar of a wildfire
I listened to a silent forest

United in our grief, divided in our perspectives
Our stories of our fire

The Beating of a Butterfly's Wings

30 April 2020

An instinctive action, my friend, yet did you beat a disaster?
Ebb and flow tides, connected and captive to the moon
Earth and moon, connected and captive to the sun
Inward and outward worlds, connected and captive to life and death
So the butterfly causes the storm, the cyclone, a fire?
How can it be? The impact of one gentle creature, living out its integrity
Unaware and innocent, purposeful, though vulnerable
Fish gotta swim, bird gotta fly, butterfly gotta beat
Maybe somehow, somewhere, the butterfly unintentionally beat in our direction
No options, but to face the day
No options, but to brace for impact
No options, but to mop up debri
Maybe, those early flutters of rain now a changing of fortune
Beat gently my friend, there’s life to be had
Beat mindfully my friend, there’s peace to be attained
Beat in another direction my friend, we’ve had enough this year

Treasure

17 April 2020

Debris upon the shore, nothing more
Adrift for a while, slammed into rocks, battered and pushed by waves
Debris upon the shore
Once shiny and new, chosen and cherished
Now cast aside, forgotten, hidden
Once useful and vibrant, prized and purposeful
Now wasted, tangled, discarded
Shell, wood, plant, bone, metal, china, glass, flesh
Rubbish, still in sight, yet out of mind
Discarded, but in plain sight for the world to see
Study the shore, slowly, thoughtfully, hoping
Hoping for treasure
Treasure that retains its potential, as well as its history
Treasure that retains its uniqueness, as well as its conformity
Treasure that can be salvaged for a new life
Treasure that can be fashioned into beauty
Not everyone can see
Only those with discerning eyes
Only those who have the vision
Only those who look beyond
Only those who watch with their heart
A prize, a hidden prize, yes a prize
Seen again, but with different eyes
Eyes of consciousness and creativity, an artist
Sometimes we, are debris upon the shore

The Master Painter

31 March 2020

Grief is a Master Painter, who must study us face on
To do her complete work of us, we must look at her face on

We cannot hide, except in parts, to respite from the pain
But as we look and face and feel, we come to life again

For our authentic likeness, she strips out what won’t work
And leaves us there quite vulnerable, even though this part can irk

Acceptance has a part to play, the hardest part to bear
And all the other parts of grief, sit with her in her chair

Impatiently they sit and sit, just waiting for their time
To wield their darts and blows again, never paying for their crime

For acceptance means, no going back, no thing will change the outcome
To yield to that’s like losing hope, and yet, a place to live from

It’s true, no matter how long we sit; there are things time cannot mend
We hope they’ll vanish forever more, as we come ‘round again

We come around in disbelief, to bargain with what’s there
But to no avail, the result’s the same, which leaves us in despair

Despair for things we wish undone, gone from our sight and memory
But somewhere deep, we know full well, things fragile and in jeopardy

That thing so fragile, sanity and strength, if only we could harness
Accept! It’s done! No going back! And grieve for what it cost us!

Every stroke she paints, takes time and care, to bring the work together
She’ll take her time, it’s an uncomfortable seat, but we won’t be there forever

Once finished, colour rich, depth of stroke, might speak to a fellow traveller
To those, who just, a little way in, can’t look lest they unravel

Too fresh their grief, to look her way, as they ward off shock and anger
A little denial to soothe the soul, how sweet to stay and linger

So let her work and mine away, the dark depths of your soul
Riches that emerge, from hell and death, shall surely make you whole

Suspended Animation

30 March 2020

Sometimes I move at break neck speed achieving all the day
Sometimes I settle for a film, to pass the time away
Sometimes I’ve got a to do list planned, which makes the day go fast
Sometimes I sit or waste much time and then it just goes past
These are strange times we’re living in, our hopes, lives, plans disrupted
Turned upside down so many things, since 2020 erupted
A bit of laughter, some family contact and friends to pass the time
Just move us forward to more carefree days, the thought is so sublime
So I’ll keep on, just day by day to shield from devastation
And move away from news reports with too much information
That’s it! A balance is what we need and a little organisation
And then I’ll come back ‘round again to suspended animation!

Claudio

25 March 2020

Claudio the colourist, is a whizz with brush and comb
My hairdresser for hard times, when it's hairdo time at home
He's fast and cheap and easy, but that's not how he cooks
He's a little camp, a little gruff, but he's got swarthy good looks
He can wield that Latino accent, like the best little Aussie whip cracker
And shout, 'get me my soy, triple, mocha latte', if you're staffing like a slacker
His stories always intrigue me, he has the best news in the town
But don't you dare to tell him that he's missed your bloody crown
He will stomp around and swear and squeal, like a right 2 year old brat
He believes he's quite the artist, just ignore you and start to chat
He needs lots of affirmation and I really am quite grateful
For a man to do my hair and it never looks distasteful
So here's to all the husbands who will learn new skills this winter
It can be fun to act the goat, with your new found tinter!

Imagine

21 March 2020

Imagine, how the black fellas hearts sank, when they realised their world was changing

Imagine when all the world plunged into war, things set in motion, there could be no rearranging

What was done could not be undone, decisions made, never to be recanted

The freedoms known and lived with abandon and therefore, taken so for granted

Gone in a blink, a moment and an instant
The spectre of death in minds and that terrible thought, suddenly not so distant

At this new peril of our time

It would have been so much better to have missed it

But here it is on our doorstep, loudly banging at our door

So wish we could just duck out the back way, without making one peep across the floor

We all now, have the opportunity to choose for ourselves and others

To think about and in consideration of, our earthly sisters and brothers

Let ego and power and selfishness diminish

Let altruism and thoughtfulness and other-ishness start to flourish

And we may just come through this, with more intact than we know

More resilience, more resourcefulness, a greater appreciation of the simple

So choose today in your own way, how you can now lead a life by example

And we'll all meet on the other side, spring shoots in melting snow