At least Nero stuck around to watch

[Recent poem, of the ‘found poem’ genre. Background: People will know that most of NSW Australia, parts of Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, are now burning in huge megafires or firestorms. Over 5 million hectares of bush have been burnt in NSW so far and there have been huge wildlife impacts. Over 800 houses have been destroyed so far. Most days a thick and toxic smoke-haze covers the sun and makes the air almost unbreathable. On the worst days, Sydney hospital emergency wards are being overloaded with people experiencing breathing difficulties. The mid- to long-term health impacts of breathing ultra-fine particles are dire. Our rainfall has been half our usual average this year and it hasn’t rained at all for many weeks, so we are in serious drought, probably Australia’s worst on record. Agriculture is slowly collapsing through lack of water and feed. Main roads have been closed due to the fires. We have had two officially declared ‘state emergency weeks’ so far.

The poem is referencing the following facts. In the last emergency, with the capital Canberra covered in thick toxic smoke, Prime Minister Morrison chose to escape to Hawaii for a holiday with his wife and two young daughters. Morrison is a so-called populist ‘conservative’ (called Liberals here), an ex-marketing executive, refugee hardliner, keen fan of coal extraction and so-called evangelical Christian. Having surprisingly won the last election in May, his key victory night comment was ‘How good is Australia!’. (The so-called ‘opposition’, the Labor Party, also strongly backs coal mining and exports.) The other lines are all taken from Sydney Morning Herald reports about the fires. Nero was of course the famous Roman Emperor who played his violin as Rome burned.

The photo above is from the NSW south coast where we have spent many a holiday, and which is now suffering economically as now holiday-makers are not going there because of the fires and raod closures. The mural at the bottom referencing Prime MInister Scott Morrision is by Scott Marsh.

This catastrophic fire season and drought are having a deep effect on public mood and psyche here with respect to the stark reality of the climate emergency and future liveability of most parts of Australia. Hopefully more and more will now join mass civil disobedience movements like Extinction Rebellion to drive the needed process of deep, citizen-led, social and political change. We need REAL, bottom-up democracy now to survive.]

At least Nero stuck around to watch

The smell of burnt plastic and wood hangs in the air
How good is Hawaii

Next door the bones of a melted aluminium dinghy
How good is Hawaii

They jumped into the car but were stopped by walls of fire
How good is Hawaii

What was once a festive outdoor fire-pit beneath burnt-out Christmas fairy lights still hanging from a gum tree
How good is Hawaii

RFS volunteer John’s been working a night shift, he needs a break
How good is Hawaii

he’s 74, got two replacement hips, knees, a shoulder
How good is Hawaii

Among homes lost was that of the local RFS brigade captain
How good is Hawaii

whose home was destroyed as he fought to protect the homes of others
How good is Hawaii

~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on December 26, 2019.

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