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from the editor's desk

Bushfire

John Kinsella: The Perth Hills Burn

On February 2, 2021, bushfire ravaged the Perth Hills from Wooroloo into (at the time of writing) the Swan Valley. Ash rained across Perth and people fled their homes, unsure where to go in the midst of a COVID lockdown.

John Kinsella has offered the following poem in solidarity with the victims of the fire. John writes, “easterlies drove the fire and then northerlies came in at 8am today—ash was originally seen in the eastern suburbs from the easterlies then, during the rest of the day, in the inner suburbs through to Cottesloe Beach, driven by the northerlies […] I follow the winds and those shifts are tangled into the poem” (Feb. 2).

It is Westerly‘s privilege to share John’s poem with all of our readers. Our thoughts are with all those who have lost homes and livelihoods, all those fighting it on our behalf, and all those under threat today. Take care everyone!


Villanelle of the Catastrophic Fire During Lockdown: The Perth Hills Burn

As embers from a vast fire-front spot-fire
up to three-and-a-half kilometres away,
ash rains down over the city under hills on fire.

You will die of the heat before flames transpire,
the ultimatum of easterlies with their warped ways,
as embers from a vast fire-front spot-fire.

There’s no time to waste on climate change deniers,
as there’s no time to waste on ‘hoaxers’ arguing COVID-19 away,
ash rains down over a city under hills on fire.

These conditions of change that draw ire
from those who deny change they boost in so many ways,
as embers from a vast fire-front spot-fire.

This is not fire as the organic world might decipher,
this is heat of weaponry of warfare of a ruddy way-
ward vision—ash rains down over a city under hills on fire.

It is easy to forget how many people are aware
and try to shift organics from ‘fuel’ to the living way,
as embers from a vast fire-front spot-fire
and ash rains down over a city under hills on fire.


John Kinsella is the author of over thirty books, including Pushing Back (Transit Lounge, 2021), Displaced: A Rural Life (Transit Lounge, 2020) and Open Door (UWA Publishing, 2018). He is a Professor of the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University, and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University.


Image: David Brewster, 2009, under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 license.

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