Bill Cotter


Like stale water over charcoal,
The smell of smoke pools, eddies
And gullies, robbed of all their secrets,
Lie, helpless beneath the single,
Judgemental eye of the moon.
Cold as sleeper spikes,
Stars bury themselves in the iron sky.
Trunks, as if to avoid detection,
Cling on to the darkness.
Stripped banksia branches point accusingly upwards.
Grey as spoiled snow,
The forest’s orchestra pit lies deserted.
The choristers and musicians have all gone

And of the audience,
Only I remain.

2 thoughts on “Bill Cotter”

  1. I live in the UK so it took me three readings to ‘get’ that what is described here is the aftermath of Australia’s wildfires: ‘banksia’ being the clue I needed! But it was a pleasure to re-read; intriguing and stark, and though I still don’t know what ‘sleeper spikes’ are (or why they are cold), the image suits the idea of stars digging into a night sky. I like that we are presented with the devastation under the cloth of night instead of daytime.


  2. A vivid, atmospheric poem. I can visualise this deserted nighttime scene. I particularly like ‘cold as sleeper spikes/stars bury themselves in the iron sky’.


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