[‘Pyropoem’ sonnet written last spring before the cataclysmic summer megafires here really kicked off. Fires here started in the north in winter, including ancient Gondwana rainforest. Welcome to the climate emergency’s ‘Pyrocene’. ‘Pyrophytes’ are fire-loving plants. ‘God-stolen’ refers to the myth of Prometheus. Most of these pyro-concepts derive from US fire historian Stephen J. Pyne who brilliantly analysed the Australian case many years ago in his book Burning Bush. A Fire History of Australia (1991)].


sleeps inside winter like a sly match in a box.
Heraclitus claimed it the world’s flame flickering
on-off shards of light on the cosmic sea of mystery
and fight. Antipodean, it rules this worn-down
mother of a continent, sows tough pyrophytes
like dragons’ teeth on cracked soil leached
of volcanic or glacial beneficence. Fire-trees
fling blazing fuel twenty ks downwind, a self-feed
of furies. Fire-hawks beak batons of red chaos
into dry grasslands just thirsting for it. God-stolen,
sun-born, summer’s twin, it sears memories,
holocausts of loss, ash incinerations worse now
we have sprawled ourselves silly in affluence,
fecundity, furious minds on fire with future.

~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on January 27, 2020.

2 Responses to “Fire”

  1. love your pyropoem…so much to contemplate…

    in s. fl. we have many plants/trees that depend on fires…
    development/climate change/exotic plants prevent the regular natural, beneficial fires, so too much brush grows and when a fire does start…it burns too hot and that symbiotic relationship is destroyed…then the exotics take over and push the natives out…(oh the possible analogies)
    the “solution”?? more development of course…just get rid of those pesky plants, right?
    Now the amazing Everglades are besieged from all sides…kinda like your’alls Gondwana…

    interestingly…the eucalyptus here is an exotic, and threatens the native eco-system…but gives the a-hole powers that be an excuse to develop even more of the protected areas!
    its a battle my native plant peeps have been fighting, and losing, for decades…
    even if we win a battle, the a-holes just come back in a couple years and start it up again…capitalism is relentless…

  2. wow, didn’t know that about sth Florida Kristi, very interesting. Did know the eucalypt is an invasive and water-hogging species, also in California, like vice versa the Monterey pine Pinus radiata can be here too although useful for softwood plantations. Apparently Californian native American tribes had similar low-intensity, regular fire-farming regimes to the Australian aborigines, thus also increasing pyrophytic ecosystems…Kind of a Pacific mirror image California-southeast Australia… Recently read about 4 degrees C in south Florida and non-native iguanas falling frozen from the trees…Nice image for the new Anthropocene/Pyrocene…

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