A battered, straggle-haired man, blazoned blue with tatts, boards our free city-loop bus. Eyes on high beam, facing the long, rubbered aisle, he searches for an empty seat. Feet stutter up the centre. A forefinger touches, wraps hard about a post, keeping his body still against the vehicle’s jerking. He holds for a while. Sinks into the fabric. Pokers to attention. Zeroes in on the bus’s monitor in a glass-glaze stare. Three stops later, he unwinds his whippet-thin body, trudges to the bus door. I imagine him shuffling to a shadowed space beside an illuminated shopfront.
weeds gone to seed
over the garden path –
First published in ‘The Other Bunny’, May 25, 2020
At last, we’re given the all-clear to drive with caution past the barrier and up the looping road ahead. As we ascend, the slope is still alive with smoulder, the occasional split and crack of eucalypt laid low. This burnt-toast smell will linger for weeks. Smoke shades the sun in a sombre midday twilight. Stubborn patches of red flame throb and incandesce on blackened trunks and branches. Sparks buzz, pop in multiple short circuits, their weird jigs flickering in our car windows. All those colours, shades, patterns, shapes – danger dressed in nightclub mode – it seems wrong to find beauty here, but we do.
Rounding the corner now, hoping, hoping that the familiar gabled roofline will be unbroken. Our home. Devastation if it’s gone, such guilt if we’re OK but those around us are wiped out.
after the fire
the scent of not knowing
what the future holds
First published in ‘MacQueen’s Quinterly’, Issue #1, Jan 1, 2019; later published in ‘Messages from the Embers’, Black Quill Press, 2020
Tony Steven Williams is a Canberra poet, short-fiction author and occasional songwriter with many publications in journals, anthologies and magazines. Tony’s debut poetry collection, Sun and Moon, Light and Dark, was published by Ginninderra Press (2018) and his second book, Reimmersion, is due for publication in early 2023. He is currently working on a third collection. Although mostly a free-verse poet, he occasionally writes in traditional forms. In recent years, he has added Japanese modes to his repertoire – such as haiku, tanka, haibun and tanka prose. Tony’s poems range widely in subject matter, from sombre to fun, from short to long, from speculative fiction to social commentary. In particular, the environment and the human condition are very important to him.