obsession at the start

Back to: Surviving the Devil: A Song of Fire
Poem #28 from the ‘Surviving the Devil’ collection (unpublished)

it’s beautiful up in the hills
hard to believe
two months have already gone by

it seems such a long time

like yesterday

and the places where the fire burned
are clear to see

not black so much as brown
and grey

rust deadened swathes
where the fire pressed it’s lips
to kiss goodnight

coming home the long way
from Mount Beauty
down into Bright
through Myrtleford
then up again at the Gapsted turnoff
towards home

a farmer at the fence-line by the road
is stringing wire through new posts

burnt places snuggle both sides
of the bitumen
dead branches overhead

rust dead and grey

just out of town at Library Road
is where our blaze started
you can see the very place
where the power-line fell

amazing how it spread
not close to us
not far enough away


and from Marysville
there’s news
the police are knowingly making
empty statements

they found the place
they know the time
they’ve tracked every man and woman
every child

narrowed down

they say that he was thereabouts
they say he told a lie
they say he makes no easy friendships
that he likes fire
a member
of the local volunteer brigade


they can’t say a name
he wouldn’t be safe in town
from the locals
who are his neighbours

mister fire-starter
lit one
became three
ate the town
and left just shat-ash
in small mounds

mister fire-lighter wore yellow
manned a hose
he is obsessed with fighting fires
and saving lives

© Frank Prem, 2010

To Poem #29: evidence to the commission of enquiry: #1 overview



8 thoughts on “obsession at the start

  1. Again close to home. We were surrounded by the fire that the media wouldn’t/couldn’t report on that day. That’s not a bad thing, sure it meant many people didn’t know what went on but it also meant that people weren’t hounding us continually while the clean ups happened. Enough people knew who did it that it became a criminal investigation almost immediately and the media were pretty much black banned to ensure evidence was as untainted as possible. There hasn’t been a fire like that in the area for more than 80 years and hopefully there is never another one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your experience of this. It was extraordinary at the time to see case after case of arson implicated in some of those nasty, nasty fires.

      I’m relieved to be able to upload these pieces and put them ‘out there’, rather than resting in my personal domain.



      Liked by 1 person

      • We had two fires within a fortnight, the first one was bad but not as bad as Black Saturday, we managed to save 200 head of cattle and our three farms but I know so many people who lost things. Some still haven’t recovered emotionally and some haven’t recovered because of red tape, but there is green where there was once black and that is a good sight to see for everyone even those still struggling.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Daily Post Prompt: I am Obsessed – Sumyanna Writes

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