Adding to our South Coast Poets is Shane Potter from the Adelaide Hills. Shane is a sometime artist and poet who grew up in country South Australia. The Cudlee Creek fires in the Adelaide Hills in December 2019, like those on the South Coast Fires, had a huge impact on Shane, and his poems express a starkly similar response. His need to write about the experiences as a first step to recovery link him closely to the South Coast Poets.
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...
1 January 2020
Old Black Grandpa Cockatoo,
Sculled slowly ‘cross the sky.
And he filled that smokey valley,
With his shrill and lonely cry.
Where once stood lush and teeming bush,
Now smoking sticks of char.
White ash and death lay all around,
The land as black as tar.
And there below the homestead,
With her walls now caving in.
Smoke rising ghostly through the pile,
Of smouldering beams and tin.
A breeze picked up the ashes,
And scattered them around.
Where molten glass and steel,
Had flowed like lava o’er the ground.
Silently they stood there,
Where their old front door had been.
With sullen faces, spirit numb,
From all that they had seen.
The house that they had made their home,
Had all but memory left.
Her eyes were red and swollen,
His spirit now bereft.
She sat upon an oil tin,
That had scarce survived the heat.
And she slowly raked the ashes,
That were thick beneath her feet.
A glint of white ceramic,
Poked through the powdered grey.
She reached down and raised her teapot,
From ash to light of day.
Tears fell upon the memory,
Of her Grandma’s dainty hands.
That long ago had held that pot,
And thought it rather grand.
So quietly she sobbed,
As she clutched it to her breast.
She had saved that phoenix teapot,
Though the fire stole the rest.
Her husband picked his path,
Through the debris of his life.
His heart weighed down and heavy,
At the sobbing of his wife.
And there amongst the ruin,
He found the carcass grim.
Of a charred and rotting possum,
Buried there beneath the tin.
And he cursed in darkened humour,
At that foul and gruesome sight,
“Well I Guess that bloody possum,
Won’t be both’ring us tonight!”
She looked up and wiped her tears,
And let half a smile free,
“Well we may not have a possum love,
But we can have a cup of tea!”
And in that moment something shifted,
As their eyes gave spark of hope.
Cos they knew that with each other,
Through this trial they’d surely cope!
And high above the homestead,
That ancestor graceful flew.
Yes that “Yellow Tailed Black”,
Called out his hope of life anew.
Come Back Old Mate
29 December 2019
(Written after the Cudlee Creek fires in the Adelaide Hills 2019/2020. A lesson in resilience from nature...)
Will you come back old mate,
Or will you let this Hell defeat you?
Will you let this bastard circumstance,
Condemn you and complete you?
Sure, your bark is charred and blackened,
Your leaves are burnt and brown.
Your very heart is scorched and baked,
White ash upon your ground.
But can you hold on old mate,
Until the seasons turn?
'Til spring rains come and quench your soul,
So life can fresh return.
Be strong old mate and hold your ground,
You're made of harder wood.
This very land on which you've grown,
Has made you strong and good.
You'll get through this old mate,
I really like your chances.
Better times will sprout again,
There's hope there in your branches!
So stand up tall old mate,
Your roots are deep and true.
Despite this awful circumstance,
Old mate you WILL get through!
That Bastard Wind
28 December 2019
They say it came like a freight train,
That bastard wind from North West.
Tearing the heart out of bushland,
Leaving nothing but scorched earth at best.
They say it raced through the orchards,
They say it shriveled the vines,
With no respect for the farmers,
That bastard crossed all of the lines!
It drove the embers before it,
It filled the air thick with its ash.
The smoke like a huge cloud of locust,
Left no time for wildlife to dash.
And those who got out were left wondering,
Just what they would find on return.
Would anything still be left standing,
Or would it be lost in the burn?
And the radio crackled the numbers,
As the houses fell one by one.
Eighty six burned on that Friday,
And that bastard wind still wasn't done!
Those greedy hands of destruction,
Stretched their fingers out o'er the land.
They smothered the life from the landscape,
In a way we could scarce understand.
And behind in Hell's desolation,
Stood tree stumps smoking and grey.
As we staggered in shock and in grieving,
'Til that bastard wind dwindled away!
Post Office Road
28 December 2019
(Written after losing what was my grandparents house in the Cudlee Creek bush fires that swept through the Adelaide Hills district.)
Lonely brick pillars in ash and in cinders,
A chimney stands naked and bare.
Melted and twisted the tin that existed,
Once sheltered what's no longer there.
A carpet of grey where we once used to play,
In the scrub that's now charcoal and dying.
Brown leaves are falling where once life was crawling,
The landscape in ashes is crying.
Now memories flood that are mixed in our blood,
All those seeds in our lives that were sewed.
By that house on the hill that we hoped would be still,
At the top of the Post Office Road.
Yes my Grandfather built it then a bush fire killed it,
Though it'd stood about 70 years.
It saw life it saw laughter but here ever after,
All thats left are our memories and tears.
Still I remember before those cruel embers,
How the view that we had simply glowed.
Our Christmas time bright seeing Lobethal's lights,
From that house atop Post Office Road.
Whenever we stayed there I remember we played there,
On that carpet of cord fibre red.
And how we couldn't wait for that chocolate milk shake,
Before Grandma would send us to bed.
But the old folk are long gone and now with their old home,
Reunited in heaven's abode.
And when I've done my time I will make that long climb,
Back to that house atop Post Office Road.
The Santas Wear Orange...
25 December 2019
The Santas wear orange In this neighbourhood
And they give up their Christmas to serve common good
They ride big white sleighs with sirens and lights
And they battle the fires through long days and nights
In the ash and the embers with smoke in their eyes under roaring jet planes dropping pink from the skies
They fight and they battle before giant flames
There is courage and honour and grit in their names
Yes the Santas wear orange, we can't thank them enough
Because giving up Christmas must be really tough
The community's happy that they are all here
But they'd be happier still if we had some rain dear!