We Need To Talk About Fire

Poems

Poems | We Need To Talk About Fire

New poetry commission for 'We Need to Talk About Fire'

26.01.2020
Athena Anasiou

(Featured in the film After the Fires)

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The bush, after burning,
smells sweet.
It’s quiet – no birdsong.
Limbs lie entangled on the
ash floor.

Sweetness. I don’t know
how to mourn,
how to lay the trees to rest.
After burning,
only rocks and sea hold
their colour.

Ship sails were seen as
bird wings –
revolutions of sails and bird wings,
open to the sky.

Incense sifts
from hearths of red-hot
tree intestines, blessing
ankles, knuckles, hips.

c Athena Anasiou


Native Grasses
Jeanine Leane
- Wiradjuri

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Native grasses
have got to watch their backs
be careful where they put their heads up
nobody wants
them
on their property or in their garden

people call them pests
try to kill them off spread poison
pull them out by their roots
you get fined for having too many of
them
if you let them grow
they spread like wildfire all over the country
seeds in the wind

you’ll lose control
they’ll
take over the other story you’re planting
under roses privets irises and wheat fields
no introduced species has a chance
against a stand of natives so
they
get exterminated crushed buried under concrete
blown up eradicated

native grasses
they keep getting in the way of progress
you
need 90% of them destroyed to show
you own this place now
there are fines if you let too many of
them
live and flourish and rewards
if you can kill them all

still
we come back in small spaces
all over the place in
cracks in pavements respectable gardens
manicured lawns wheat paddocks golf courses
school playgrounds and all other places
we’re
not wanted us native grasses
we’ve got to watch our backs
we
keep trying to raise our heads.

c Jeanine Leane


sweet smoke
Jazz Money
- Wiradjuri

(Featured in the film Nurturing Country)

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Sweet smoke poem text

c Jazz Money


Aftermath
Kirli Saunders
- Gunai

(Featured in the film Walking With Fire)

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When my world
burns down around me

I take the cold ash
and crush it

between my fingers and thumb

I roll it in my upturned palm-
a shaking hand whisking
back and forth

for the empty beliefs
that landed as thoughts
and manifested action
which led to this inferno

I empty, seeing black dust stains
stick to skin
as a reminder
of creative destruction

I bend
to the ashen rubble
on the earth

and know that only
sun
and water
and time

will promise change

I call the new shoots
to unfurl.

c Kilri Saunders


Unprecedented
Nicole Smede - Worimi

(Featured in the film Good Fire, Bad Fire)

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There is beauty here
in destruction
in devastation

in soft ash and pale bones, in the blackened bark of bloodwoods 
in the ghosts of grey gums saluting to the sky

there is beauty here
in barren
in smouldering

in the perfumed scent of resin hovering in golden canopies
in lush green sanctuaries - buried escapees, now the survivors’ paradise

there is beauty here
in angst
in heartbreak

in rising voices, hands held in warm grief 
in care and custodianship of the destitute and dispossessed

there is beauty here
in the foreign 
in disorder

in unsettling landscapes, those twisted seductive strangers
in unveiling altered territories, inviting kinship anew

there is beauty to come, here
in rejuvenation
in growth

when after rain and time the landscape renewed 
will sing again the song of souls rebirthed. 

c Nicole Smede


Blood Moon
Lyndsay Urquhart
- Yuin
Dharawal translations provided by Aunty Jodi Edwards

New poetry commission for We Need to Talk About Fire

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Lonely bones sat on sandstone thrones
Ankles deep in orchids red

Hundreds and thousands sprinkle the sky
Blood moon remembers, salt water tears they cried

Blood Moon Strong
Burnt Earth Sick

Gunyungalung over again
Time to fight the rage

See signals in the smoke
Whimpering in the winds, an anger within

Secrets of Grandmother’s grief
Hidden in flaming leaves

Vast branches; once a battalion
Armed green with leaves and life

Now a burnt out mess
Trees; a totem pole of loss

Blood Djajun Strong
Burnt Ngura Sick

Red-belly-blood-snake
Have your blisters healed?

The earth has now become the sun
The sun become the moon

We’ve forgotten we’re the wind
The language of our lore

Fight gambi with a stick
Yabun wiritjirabin

Blood Moon Strong
Burnt Earth Sick

Dharawal interpretations:

Blood Djajun Strong | Blood Moon Strong

Burnt Ngura Sick | Burnt Country Sick

Gunyungalung | Gandangara word for dreaming

Yuwin djajun, yuwin - can I send mujis? | Moon man, truth, can I send some friends?

Yabun wiritjirabin | Sing and clap together lyrebird

c Lyndsay Urquhart