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The whole town was a fireball

Updated on January 12, 2016
Beata Stasak profile image

Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.

'We can be heroes' (David Bowie's song)

Monologue of a survivor

The Bushfire

has ripped through

the historic timber town

the night before

one little dot

on the map

of Western Australia


it was home

to 545 people

but now

it is uninhabitable

The night


I had stood

trapped in the car park

of my home


in horror

as my house

and most of Yarloop


into flames

when a fireball

ripped through

like a shooting star

of death

It was so hot

the trees around


into flames

the whole town

was a fireball

and there was

no way


the fire was everywhere

I can see

my watch showed 10 pm

when I stood

in front of fire wall

50 m high

I thought

it would be

my last night

I am still here

sitting on a borrowed chair

in a borrowed house

living on a borrowed time

while my place

I was born into

and grew up

I have lived in until now

the little timber town

130 km south of Perth

had virtually been

wiped off the map

He looks around

the ferocity and speed

of the fire

surprised everyone

when it breached

the South-West Highway

around 7.30 pm

and began roaring

through the timber roofs

on the edge of Yarloop

The easterly wind picked up

and it just went wild

the fire came down the hill

and right through the town

like an uninvited guest

of war and revenge

shooting one fireball

after another

through the blood red sky

you reach for water

only to realise

the town's water supply

dried up

Sitting on a borrowed chair

in a borrowed house

living on a borrowed time

how do you recover

from the devastation

of fire?

What are you going to do now?

Because there is no industry


any more

I don't know

if people come back

do they want to rebuild

or move on?

And where and when

and how?

Next to me sit Kate

She fled with here four children

aged between six and ten

they grabbed

some family photographs

and got out

as ash rained down

on them

We sit in silence

and listen to the news

on the radio

the Bowie song came up

about a survivor

and then the short note

he just has died

We stand up and dance

in the hall

full of sad and lost


who lost everything

but their lives

We stand up and dance

in silence

to the tune of the last survivor

who has just died

and in his name we will go on

because we must...


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    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 2 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you my fellow Aussie yes we are safe and hope you will be too always:) My daughter will be jealous she just adores David Bowie and she has had from the ten years of age so twenty years which is impressive, she was very saddened by his death so I wanted to cheer her up in some way, smile:) That his music goes on and his message of fighting your odds no matter what:)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Beata, I have been following the tragic fires in Western Australia. It must be a terrifying experience to endure. Here in rural Queensland we also need to be vigilant as we are not immune to the bush fire threat with recent temperatures rising greatly. Good rainfall early in the new year has protected us until now thankfully.

      Linking this to the tragic news of David Bowie's death was well done. I actually attended a Bowie concert at Lang Park, Brisbane about 35 years ago. It is a sad time. Glad to hear you are safe.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 2 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you my fellow hubber they truly were survivors, smile just like our song bird has been:) We all have to be survivors in different times of our lives haven't we?

      Otherwise the humanity would be wiped out long time ago:) There is only our hope sometimes it seems in the world our never ending struggle to survive:)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      What a frightening and devastating experience, Beata! It seems Bowie was battling a fireball of his own, but never let on. In the end, the fireball took his life. Thankfully, there were survivors in the town of which you speak.

      Very nice tribute, Beata.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 2 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you so much Max, it means a lot to me:) I just write as a hobby and I am happy it is useful for someone:)...all the best B

    • Max Havlick profile image

      Max Havlick 2 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      Just as impressive, however, and perhaps even more so, as an empathic observation and report on the pain of others, as if they were here reporting their own experiences. There is, of course, nothing wrong with poetry taking the point of view of others than the writer. In this case, I looked carefully for the distinction and could not tell whether or not the poem referred to you personally, and it was so realistically described, I had to decide you experienced it directly. Which, obviously, in a way, you did.

      Please write more poetry when you can, Beata, responding honestly to what you see in your world and how you feel about it. I, for one, will be glad to see it. Best to you!

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 2 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you my beautiful readers and thank you Max especially but I have to add I am a survivor but smaller one than those mentioned above:) I live down south of Western Australia and we have had just frightening fire wave around our farm property this weekend but at the same time people more south of us lost their whole town, so I have decided to pay tribute to them the real survivors :) And yes music of the great ones pushes us forward and let us know every day: 'We can be heroes'...THANK YOU:)

    • Max Havlick profile image

      Max Havlick 2 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      My deepest condolences, Beata, on your tragic loss of home and town (too small, unfortunately, to be on the Australia map in my World Atlases).

      Your wonderful responding poetry, however, will eloquently bring any sensitive reader into your pain and into your insights, and I, for one, thank you for the effort and skill of transcendence that you possess and demonstrate here.

      Continuing love and best wishes.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This must have been the most frightening experience for all who lived in that little town? So sorry. We all will miss Bowie, but like you said, his music will live on. Thank you..

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great job of intertwining the two tragedies. How sad.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Wow! powerful stuff, and the Bowie piece at the end, so poignant and true, wonderful!