by Judith Steele


Australia Will Burn: Dreaming in Bushfire Season

The bush burns, animals burn, houses burn, sky burns
In the sky a crimson koala burns
Now the sky is burning black
The sky is soot
Falls on our faces.
Now a whirling in the wind, whirling of feathers,
demonic whirling as if the devil is in it
It is crows, a cry of crows, whirling on their wings,
They land in the trees, not to rest
They hang from trees black and burned
dripping with blood, dripping red rain on us
as we try to find the sky.


The Past Is The Present

He is yelling at my door.
I open the door.
He is there Leather jacket, jeans, boots.
Steps back, holding up his weapon
like a tyre pump, great metal cut-outs and protrusions.
I will be rammed gouged brutalised to death
If only death would be quick
But I fear the pain. I fear the fear
I am upstairs. What can i do?
Houses all around. I scream HELP
I wake myself calling for help.
No-one comes here either.
No-one ever came …


The Trap

the house you live in
is suburban red brick
solid and unquestioned by your childhood’s mind

the yard you run in
is white gravel, tents of green beans, towers of almond trees
your wide kingdom of light

your horizon is the wide white gate
your grandfather coming home
you are sunshine’s joyful child

you grow and your grandfather dies
the women tell you that now you are woman
and belong inside with women’s work

you leave the house and climb the almond tree
as you used to do
with an apple and a book

someone calls you back
you hear the call –
climb higher, you think, keep climbing …



Judith Steele is Australian, currently living in South Australia. She is co-author (with Moira McAuliffe) of Fighting Monsters, (Vaughan Willoughby, Melbourne, 1998) and was twice winner of the Dymocks Northern Territory Red Earth Poetry Prize (2001, 2002). Her poetry has appeared in Northern Territory and South Australian publications; in Gobshite Quarterly (Oregon) and Tema (Zagreb); and in webzines The Animist, Thylazine, Tinta 3D, Four and Twenty

painting by Mel Blossom


Australia Will Burn and other poems