out of nowhere
a swollen wash of silt and logs
moving but still
as if the noun
were a single thing.

fully dimensional like air
things in it occupy
their particular place
as it bangs into bridges
churches and chookhouses.


eucalypt limbs catch and release
morning glory vines spiralling
dead leaves round the backwash
exposed roots poke thru the soak
the loose loam, the rot.

a black snake head held erect
as body scythes across,
a roo swimming, a drowned angus,
legs tangled by fencing wire
rolling over.

how many times have we rebuilt these levees
paid and paid
for geotech backhoe and dozer crews
pounded foundations further
down these friable lines?

so we pull together again
sandbags, trailers down driveways
lifting the tv into the ceiling
waiting by torchlight
at our doorstep.

Image: Floods at Grafton, NSW 11 March 1890, c/- State Library of NSW Flickr

A set of six gogyohka (5 lines, any syllable count) for Dverse where Frank is celebrating the 5-line Japanese Poetic forms.

And appropriately, here’s Take 5 from Dave Brubeck and his band back in 1964 (who says I don’t move with the times, you cats?)

19 thoughts on “Floodlands

    1. Thanks Judy – I’d started out calling the poem ‘overcome’ – and was thinking about the different forms / meaning of the word. Flood / Floodlands / Overcome – all work here, so thought I’d leave it to the reader to decide 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A wonderful set of gogyohka, Peter. I love the way they lead in to each other, the circularity, especially in the final one and the way it pulls everything together. The sequence tells a whole story, but each can be read on its own. I love the sound of ‘swollen wash of silt and logs’ and the lines:
    ‘moving but still
    as if the noun
    were a single thing’,
    and the image of the eucalypt limbs holding and releasing morning glory, as if they are breathing. The appearance of the black snake reminds me of the snake that appears at the beginning and end in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
    Cheers for the Brubeck!


  2. There are such a lot of contrasts in this, the moving living water carrying dead animals, barbed wire, the repetitive recovery rebuilding and more flooding. Three and four were the most moving, for me, like losing your grip on solidity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Written by someone who is very intimate with the devastation of the-noun-that-isn’t-a-single-thing. We had two dams give way in Michigan (USA) a few days ago that has put water (and things) 9 feet high over the land.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for asking. I’m ok. My daughter in-law’s aunt and uncle had to evacuate their home as their first floor is/was under water.


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