don’t think about

and in the end

when the last naked flame is doused
and the fires are done
when the roots and peat
have stopped burning
beneath the ground
and the rise of smoke
is no longer a threat
but the sign of a man
with charcoal and soot
spread across hands and face
at his rest with a cigarette

when finally
we have shot the last beast
burned or starving
and rebuilt the fences
around the long paddock
settled the insurance
to replace the houses
turned back from volunteer
to farmer or townie
worker or unemployed
wife or husband

as we stare at the unfamiliar
draw our collective breaths
and brace ourselves
to endure once more
to go on
we can try then
not to think
of fire

or the sound in the night
of static on the radio receiver
throat-clearing a call-out
for assistance at lightning strikes
or outbreaks of grass

not think about
the sparseness of pasture
tinder-dry scrub
or the fires last year
and the one before

and the one before

for gods sake don’t contemplate the drought
that may never end
that might break us like nothing
has ever broken us

and don’t think about
next year

© Frank Prem, 2008


7 thoughts on “don’t think about

    • Thanks Kaz.

      This was from the 2003 fires around Beechworth/Chiltern. I visited my olds after the worst of it had passed and this was very much the state of things, as I recall.

      Nasty when you’re in the line of the thing.




  1. After reading most of the recently posted bushfire series of poems, to stop and read this, an even earlier piece, just really brings it all home, – how the places and faces may change, but ultimately, how the elements, nature, in co-existence with us, the people, well – it’s like the “man versus nature” attitude of “search and destroy or conquer” – but ultimately, we are always the losers. This piece is a reflection to the fragility of life, the loss and devastation, not only of the natural elements, and of the people, of course – and really, a blink of an eye, and it all can change.

    So appreciation, gratitude, humility and awareness ….. and since this is the hot time for you, always, caution, and hopefully, safety.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Gee, when I read the words, “we will no doubt be in strife by February” by head literally spun …. even though I know it’s summer where you are, I immediately thought “but it’s cold and snowy” …. my head is aching with weather patterns.

        Well, here’s wishing and hoping that this season will not be like the last and that all will be well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL …. well I’m an active eco-environmentalist, so most things “natural world|elements|weather” don’t escape my notice …. but it’s always good to have a on the grounds, as it were, eye in the sky reportage. 🙂

        I just hope it really isn’t as bad as last year.


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