Bushfires in Victoria: February 2009

In 2009, members of the Australian Haiku Society were greatly moved by the suffering of those affected by the terrible bushfires in Victoria, Australia. Beverley George, then President of the Society, wrote at the time:

“I feel certain I speak on behalf of everyone who comes to this web-site, when I send our deepest regrets to those who have suffered most in these tragic fires in Victoria: the people who have lost the people they love, their homes, their neighbourhood, their way of life, their landscape and livestock, and their pets.

May each of you, victim or helper, who has witnessed the loss of human and animal life, and of habitat, under merciless and unexpected circumstance, be granted healing in due course.

Special thoughts to those people, rendered powerless, who still wait to hear the fate of loved ones. Our hearts are with you.”

While all Australians struggled for words to convey their dismay at the suffering caused by the devastating bushfires, many poets tried to share their feelings in haiku which were posted on the HaikuOz web site as a tribute to the victims of the bushfires. Those haiku are recorded below:

relief centre
the new bed toy
smells different

Beverley George

out of black silence
the wobble
of a burnt lamb

Dawn Bruce

‘bushfire country all the brick chimneys standing’

Janice Bostok

fire-fighter
she wears soot
for makeup

Cynthia Rowe

black void
a stranger’s hug
releases the tears

Quendryth Young

town in ashes
a firefighter
wipes his eyes

Lorin Ford

drizzle…
blackened rubble around
the chimney

Nathalie Buckland

fire storm
melted metal where the street
used to be

Kathy Earsman

gnawed white . . .
last season’s dog bones
in the ash pile

Ron Moss

smoke haze …
a koala drinks
from the fireman’s water bottle

Lynette Arden

crackly footsteps
in a blackened field
we all cry together

Greg Piko

after the wildfire…
a row of new green tents
becomes home

Beatrice Yell
blacker than its shadow
a gum tree
sheds ash

Alexander Ask

blackened trunks
in the morning light…
we count the dead

Jo McInerney

water
the word means
everything now

Max Ryan

standing in silence
around the charred remains:
their three chimneys

Scott Mason (USA)

silence
without birdsong
in this wasteland

M L Grace

hugs all round
finding neighbours
alive

Barbara A. Taylor

on burned farmlands
a weeping child clinging to
his koala’s fur

Claire Gardien (France)

morning after the fire
the cactus growing
from ashes

Stefan Sencerz

too far and too old
to really help, I just send money,
weep and pray

Marian Morgan

silhouette –
helicopter blades
chop the blood-red sun

Jo Tregellis

tent-city …
a girl’s smile from inside
the fireman’s jacket

Leonie Bingham

bushfire report
crackling on the radio –
flames

Judith E P Johnson

newspaper photo
a fireman shares water
with a koala

Angelika Wienert (Germany)

black veil
hides a face
in mourning

Mike Burdett

limp afternoon…
acrid smoke seeps through
the wire screen

Dorothy Keyworth

red sky
the photo of a young girl
smiling from the ashes

Graham Nunn

sprig of red gum tips
in a black coral forest
a raven’s low cry

Jacqui Murray

green shoots
on blackened trunks
ashen summer

John Bird

distant fires
famlies search under a blue moon

Martin Cohen

extended family . . .
touched by smoke
half a world away

Catherine J.S. Lee, USA

Bushfire-
people and birds sharing
the same fate

Vasile Moldovan

wake to maggies …
worlds north of us drown
whilst south they burn

Kevin Sharpe

a splash of yellow
standing
against the storm

Ashley Capes

smoke haze
the city smells
of bush fires

Janet Howie

days later –
still the smell
of burnt things

Matt Hetherington

smoke-blind
only the road’s white middle line
as guide

Katherine Gallagher

deep ash
memories laid down for
generations to come

Steve South

Aussie koala
bush rescue by David Tree
fire ravaged earth

Yvonne Pick

dawn drags yellow-grey
blustery winds still hot –
fire-fighters yawn

Thomas Thorpe

if fire is a
crucible, may the change lift
you towards Heaven

Ryk McIntyre, USA

driving home
through country towns
newspaper stands cry

Sarah Muller

day has become night,
flames and smoke unite as one –
wildlife sacrificed.

Ann Jamieson