Smoke – Michael Symmons Roberts – Comments


First one tree, then another, horizons close
towards us, house-lights dim and drown.
The huge, low moon dissolves. Pray in us,

spirit, animus, holy ghost among
the wet leaves, in the smoke’s mute song.
Eyes sting. All perspective gone.

One building bleeds into another.
Torch beams shrink to dandelions
Headlamps fade to dull gems set in cars.

Distances collapse. Shouts could cross
streets, valleys, oceans. Silence, broken
by a siren on another continent.

And what burns? Sweet and salt,
bracken, berries, hair. What new edifice
hardens within, waits for world to sharpen.

Michael Symmons Roberts (1963

Animus – hostility
Edifice – structure

This poem, written by UK poet Michael Symmons Roberts in 2011, marries nicely with the smoke drenched city of Canberra as the wanton bushfires send their hangover dust into Canberra from the devastation on the NSW south coast.

A clear message that is not going away – long after the smoke dissipates!

Unfortunately the Australian Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) is not showing the leadership needed to address climate change in an adequate way – waiting for some serious sharpening.

Below Black Mountain Tower, Canberra shrouded in smoke (3 January 2019) …


A link to Michael Symmons Roberts on Wikipedia.

At the Blind Bend

At the blind bend

It had been a hard journey –
a great flood, the odd earthquake
not to mention a few volcanos –
but reaching this blind bend
with the sky continually clouded
and the children coughing, I
thought the danger quite obvious
and a time to stop and think.

There had been many crossings
but this was different – a greater
understanding – and I was somewhat
nervous. The children held tight
for they too sensed that all was
not well – they have that intuitive
understanding in the blood – while
behind the masses murmured.

Then this person next to me said
‘everything will be OK – don’t worry’
a laid-back sort of fellow – you know
the type – and added ‘God willing
we’ll be right’. Another called out
‘Yes’, he said, ‘God will look after us’.
Then, impatiently, one by one they
started to cross in front of us.

Well I thought I’m dreaming –
this can’t be real – perhaps they
just closed their eyes to the
the danger – well it was quite
a mess I can tell you! Of course
we all went to help at once, to
try and clean up things – and the
children were crying.

Richard Scutter July 2018

It has been one of the driest Autumn-Winter periods on record in Australia and in England likewise one of the driest summers ever and in Tokyo extreme heat has been responsible for over a dozen deaths while in Sweden, Finland and the Arctic Circle unprecedented wild fires have caused extensive damage to the local natural environment. And while writing this post fires have been rampaging parts of Greece causing many deaths and three days of national mourning.

It seems our planet is getting a little warmer with extreme weather common; and not a time to ignore climate change or be complacent!

And of course it is always inappropriate to appropriate God in order to justify unthinking action.