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Apollo Bay February 2009

Shop fronts linger in mist, deserted—

breakers chase endlessly like escalators

to the village.  No one gets off, not even a seagull


The holiday makers have gone home— pinched-faced,

flickering, they sit before television screens

watching news about the bush fires,

illness of economy paling into yesterday

before the raging flames that bellow over hills,

leaping and lapping into sky


Entire villages disappear, swallowed by the roaring fires—

blackened timbers, carcasses of cars, skeletons of eucalypts

swarthing from torn roots upwards, gasping final resin

into smoke-filled air 

a lone attendant in the filling station store

counts dollars in his till watched by rows of candy bars


Over ocean’s horizons we see
troop movements of a new president's vision 

attendant presses remote— an African dictator eats lobster,

views his burgeoning bank account in Switzerland,

another button-press away missiles explode in playgrounds

hosts of F16’s bomb buildings in retaliation


Another button press— a cricket match is in progress

bowler runs up to crease, ball too fast for camera

but batsman wields weapon and fielder falls to grass

arms outstretched — a strip of moving text underneath the

scoreboard updates the number of fire deaths


President signs bail out plan — tanks stop firing to vote in election—

black clouds drizzle, holiday makers stay home,

the breakers continue their march, row after row after row

tides rise and fall, swallow flames, wars, garbage, greed

all is cleansed by their white chewing teeth


The lone cormorant standing on the beach— eyes facing waves,

does not notice how one small screen splutters before it dies

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© Johnmichael Simon



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