Fire Siege Haiku

[Most NSW fires are more or less out or controlled now after heavy rains in which we have here received about half the total for all of last year, 355 mm, within a week or so. Flooding in some coastal places now almost a form of relief. The photo was taken from a ridge about 4 km from our place on January 10 looking south onto the approaching Morton megafire. It was valiantly contained by much backburning. The Fire Siege haiku sequence attempts to take you through the experience from drought before the fires to afterwards. ‘Firies’ are volunteer fire fighters. ‘PM’ is our so-called Prime Minister Morrison. A ‘Boddhisattva’ is a Buddha of infinite compassion, sometimes female (as in the photo at the monastery in Bundanoon below), within Mahayana Buddhism.]


Ignored farmers’ hearts
fall between the cruel cracks
of dry farm dams

Drought despair reminds:
our cells still swim like fish
in old first oceans

In drought fire bucket
waiting for the fire front –
a drowned mouse!

PM photo op:
burnt town tired old firey
refuses handshake

Southerly buster
now brings cool breeze relief
and Armageddon

Daylight turns orange,
deep red, black night, embers storm
in deadly wasps

Above fire inferno
pure white clouds billow sails –
Death’s ship approaching

Volcanic fire walls
melt brick walls, metal sheds –
fear-rage outside, inside

Wombats burrow, roos run:
two wise teachings for our
pent-up Pyrocene

Fine-grained smoke seeping
grey ash grit smell into mind
till old world dissolves

Smoke smother rolls in:
summer’s old hedonism
gone with the wind

Fleeing the fire front,
exploding grass fires lit by
mad hornet embers

Racing out of town,
fires licking at car doors
with bling orange lips

Fleeing, we see
frantic engines rush firewards –
Buddha firies calm

At burnt monastery
stone Boddhisattva smiling
at selfless firies

Afterwards, clearing
roof gutters – black ash crystals
sent express from hell

Thirty nine degrees,
sweltering climate change march
turning up the heat

At railway crossing
fire chopper above, sudden
butterfly lifts soul

~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on February 14, 2020.

5 Responses to “Fire Siege Haiku”

  1. What an experience…hoping for the best to spring from the ashes…

    • Thanks Kristi. Lotsa submerged stress from the megafire period now surfacing as immune system weakness and bad cold, but gradually getting over it… Had very big turnout at last local XR demo/rally and have at least got our conservative local council to declare an official climate emergency. Now to have to work on actualy doing/not doing something, helping build more local social and ecological resilience for increasing levels of threats…

  2. not surprised at the physical ramifications following all that stress…
    take care of yourself while still trying to maintain the social awareness these tragedies create…

  3. Finally got around to reading this, Peter. Exciting stuff, and good to see you working so powerfully with the haiku form, which you’ve mastered so skilfully. Love your use of metaphor: our cells still swim like fish. The joy of unexpected surprise: the drowned mouse. Use of extreme compression: PM photo op. And the final image of the sudden butterfly that somehow redeems all the darkness and suffering. A great achievement, camarade.

    Meanwhile I’ve been working on a series of “Nursery Rhymes for the Elderly”. A couple of examples:

    Tinkle tinkle, come on Pa, Need to fill the little jar. If you don’t the nurse will cry. You can do it if you try. Tinkle tinkle, come on Pa, Oh dear, you’ve spilt the bloody jar.

    Mary ate a tin of Spam, her face turned white as snow and everywhere that Mary spewed the dog was sure to go.

    Little fat Lorna sat in the sauna because she was rather shy. She drank so much rum it made her feel numb and she said, I’m feeling quite high.

    It’s a fun challenge, as you can see.

    Love, BD

    • Thanx cobber, much appreciated as always. The tinkle tinkle rhyme sent shivers down me willy. Waiting to see how you detourne Little Jack Horner, Three Blind Mice, and The Cow Jumped over the Moon…Maybe see ya in Toomba 23-27 March (annual Metropole poets’ workshop) ?

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