Poetry Friday ~ Wild Fire

10 Jan

Hi, everyone! Welcome.

Since September, 17.9 million acres of Australia have burned in one of the country’s worst fire seasons on record. That’s an area larger than West Virginia, and more than eight times the area that burned in California in 2018, the state’s most destructive year for wildfires. 

The fires have now killed at least 27 people and destroyed almost 2,000 homes. The blazes turned skies orange and made breathing the air in Sydney as bad as smoking 37 cigarettes. Those are just the impacts on people. The destruction of the country’s land and biodiversity is harder to fathom. An estimated 1 billion animals have been lost, and scientists fear long-term damage to many sensitive ecosystems. 

Though rain brought firefighters a slight reprieve Wednesday, the AP reports that hot and windy conditions that will keep the fires burning are expected to return later this week. 

It’s a disaster that’s particularly ominous: In a warming world, extreme fire events like this one will only grow more likely to occur. – Australia Fires: 7 Things Everyone Should Know About The Brushfire Disaster.

Photograph by Cris Saur @crisaur

What is happening in Australia right now is devastating. I feel terrible for the families that have lost loved ones and are suffering through this hellish brushfire disaster. The number of animals that have perished in the fire is perturbing. 1 Billion animals dead! The firefighters that are putting their lives at risk every day battling the flames are amazing. It is easy to feel helpless, especially if you live on the other side of the planet, but there are things we could do to help.

  • If you’re in Australia, Givit has a list of specific items needed by people and organizations affected by the bushfires.
  • People with emergency response training can sign up to volunteer in Queensland.
  • The World Wildlife Fund is collecting donations to restore habitats for koalas impacted by the fires.
  • You can donate to the Australian Red Cross’s fire recovery and relief fund.
  • You can also donate directly to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the Country Fire Service Foundation in South Australia, and the Country Fire Authority in Victoria.
Photograph by Mark Galer @markgaler

Colleen’s 2020 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 159, #Poet’sChoice

I chose to share this beautiful and heart-wrenching poem by Philip Salom dedicated to the men and women who fight these fires. Below is part one of the poem. You can read the rest of it here.


As if going into battle, the knapsack 
full on my shoulders, its pipe and nozzle
slung up like a rifle.
We fought along the river, seeing shrubs
explode, riddled with fire,
eerie sounds of trees shrieking
like things alive, feral, flames like faces
spilling down into the ferns.
We staggered, sick with the hammering heat,
dousing endless flames that slammed at us
like nightmares, sullen ghosts
groping at our limbs. We plunged
into that day's red thunder,
subsumed like suiciders who stare into
the rifle, gulp the flame. Individuals
meandering in something huge.
We choked in smoking semi-darkness,
shadows through the lead-coloured
air of limbo.

Now the aching blistering weight
of the knapsack pulling my shoulders.
Exhaustion worries the scorched end
of some unity: thought and action
fused into one. Sagging now,
heavier than the slopping drums
behind the tractors coming in.
We see the new men walking in
and seem to meet our earlier selves
but are more certain and more tired.
I, older than my youth, seeing these men
as if they were children.
Photograph by Liam Pozz @liampozz

Enjoy the rest of your day!

38 Responses to “Poetry Friday ~ Wild Fire”

  1. olganm January 10, 2020 at 1:34 pm #

    Thanks, Vashti. It’s a terrifying state of affairs, and as you well say, it’s only going to get worse all over. Thanks for sharing this powerful poem as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 10, 2020 at 2:11 pm #

      Hi, Olga. The poem gave me goosebumps. It is powerful. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this disaster, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the animals.


  2. Jacquie Biggar January 10, 2020 at 2:20 pm #

    It’s a warzone. My heart hurts for all affected, but especially those poor, terrified animals 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 10, 2020 at 2:56 pm #

      It’s more like hell. Isn’t it scary? Every time I see an image of an animal being rescued, I just want to cry. 1 billion dead! It’s hard to wrap my head around that. I hope this disaster is resolved soon. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wendy Scott January 10, 2020 at 3:13 pm #

    I’ve previously lived in Australia, and still have friends & family there – the fires are devastating. The scale is hard to comprehend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 14, 2020 at 9:34 am #

      I hope your family and friends are safe, Wendy. It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the devastation. It’s been nearly five months since the fires began. It’s too much. Thank you for your visit and comment. 🙂


  4. Writing to Freedom January 10, 2020 at 3:53 pm #

    Thanks for caring and sharing tips on how to help. The impact is heartwrenching as reflected in Philip’s evocative poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cleopatra Trevilcock January 10, 2020 at 4:26 pm #

    These are definitely trying times when we need to do our part and hold on tightly to God’s promises. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. yvettemcalleiro January 10, 2020 at 6:18 pm #

    My heart breaks for everything that country is enduring. Thank you for sharing the helping sites. I’ve tweeted it out. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 13, 2020 at 12:51 pm #

      Thank you for sharing the sites, Yvette. My heart breaks too, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Annette Rochelle Aben January 10, 2020 at 7:12 pm #

    God bless us, everyone! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jill Weatherholt January 10, 2020 at 8:02 pm #

    I fell in love with Australia after reading The Thorn Birds as a teenager. My heart breaks for the people, the land and the helpless animals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 13, 2020 at 1:09 pm #

      Hi, Jill! I fell in love with Australia as a teen also. I read the book “A Cry In The Dark” and was mesmerized by the author’s description of Ayer’s Rock and Australia in general. I swore I would one day visit Australia and climb that rock. It’s still on my “Bucket List.” Australia’s unique animals and ecosystem have always intrigued me as well. Thanks for your visit and comment. ❤


  9. Mae Clair January 10, 2020 at 10:03 pm #

    The tragedy in Australia is so devastating it’s hard to summon words. I keep hoping each day will bring an end to the destruction and keep praying for all those effected, including the animals impacted by the horror. Just. So. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 13, 2020 at 1:16 pm #

      You’re right, Mae. The horror unfolding over there is difficult to put into words. I don’t think Australia will ever be the same after this. I pray the nightmare would be over soon. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. robbiesinspiration January 11, 2020 at 1:16 pm #

    A very graphic poem, Vashti. The Australian wild fires are terrible and are affecting many other places in the area. It is frightening.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 13, 2020 at 1:19 pm #

      I love poems that shake you to your core with the truth. I read that the thick smoke from the fire is affecting people and animals in areas that are not on fire. It’s a horrific situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. karenringalls January 11, 2020 at 3:10 pm #

    Vashti, thank you for sharing this poem. It brought tears to my eyes. The tragedy of the fires is beyond words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 13, 2020 at 1:31 pm #

      Hello, Karen. This situation has broken my heart. Photos and movies I’d seen and books I’d read made me fall in love with Australia as a teen. The country’s friendly, colorful people, and its unique animals and ecosystem has always appealed to me. The poem brought tears to my eyes too. Of course, this disaster would be horrible in any part of the world.


  12. Jan Sikes January 11, 2020 at 4:09 pm #

    So extremely sad, Vashti! Thank you for sharing this post. I pray for all those affected by the devastating fires (human and animal).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. D.L. Finn, Author January 12, 2020 at 2:47 am #

    It’s heartbreaking, Vashti. I have a hard time wrapping my thoughts around it. Thank you for sharing the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 13, 2020 at 1:33 pm #

      Me too, Denise. You’re welcome. It was my pleasure. Thanks for the visit and comment, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Annika Perry January 12, 2020 at 12:20 pm #

    Vashti, a heartfelt and informative post about a situation that has us in shock and deep sadness here in England. The scale of destruction is hard to fathom, the ferocity of the blazes beyond comprehension. The courage of these volunteer fire fighters is phenomenal. Thank you for sharing the poem, it is superb and each day must be like a battle for them. As for the loss of wildlife, we’ve been mourning this, so much lost, a lot forever. A dark summer for Australia and one that will never be forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 13, 2020 at 1:39 pm #

      A dark summer indeed, my friend. Like you mentioned, some of the wildlife was already endangered and may be gon forever. It brings tears to my eyes to think about this. What a horrifying situation. Thank you for stopping by and for your splendid comment. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Natalie Ducey January 14, 2020 at 11:29 am #

    Thank you for sharing and caring, Vashti, as always. The devastation is just heartbreaking. Bushfire is such a powerful and penetrating poem. Many thanks for sharing it here, my friend. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 14, 2020 at 2:15 pm #

      You’re very welcome, Natalie. This disaster is surreal in its horror. My heart breaks for the people and animals. I’m happy you enjoyed the poem. Thank you for your visit and kind words, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. memadtwo January 17, 2020 at 7:35 am #

    It is indeed heartbreaking, and we need constant reminders to push our leaders to change their destructive ways. Thanks Vashti! (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. D. Wallace Peach January 23, 2020 at 8:07 pm #

    So horrible, Vashti. This post brings tears to my eyes. The loss if so devastating that it’s almost incomprehensible. Thank you for sharing the moving poem. I hope this marks a turning point and we begin, begin to take climate change seriously. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q January 27, 2020 at 12:28 pm #

      From your lips to God’s ear, Diana. I think the new generation is beginning to take environmental issues a lot more seriously. Here’s hoping for a greener future. ❤ xo

      Liked by 1 person

  18. -Eugenia January 24, 2020 at 11:41 am #

    Thank you for following Eugi’s Causerie. 😀


    • Vashti Q January 27, 2020 at 12:22 pm #

      You’re welcome. Thank you for following The Writer Next Door, too! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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