by Lindy Warrell

A new house in Darwin,
angels twinkle and bells tinkle
on a fresh pine branch in the corner
while fridge and freezer wheeze
with the weight of kabana and beer,
ham, pork and turkey —
all that Christmas cheer.
Clouds glower. A howl of wind
blows visitors home,
and older children hide gifts
under beds as louvered windows shatter.
The roof lifts off.


A whining, whirring, whinnying wind
batters the house of your mind. Rain
pelts, squalls, gusts at regular intervals,
like a runaway train, it pummels
fibro sheets from their moorings.
Metallic sounds scratch, crash and scrape,
splintered homes are whipped and whooshed
in obeisance to a power
that pelts fridges like ping pong balls
and propels cars into water towers
and pools on hotel roofs.


I want to pee says your two-year old,
pee on the bed, you keen as lightening
coruscates the black curtain of tropical stars
and slivers of frozen rain pierce your face.
You lie in the tiny warm puddle.


After thunder, silence —
the storm’s eye.
Will death come tonight?


At dawn, you hustle outside
to a yellow-grey fugue
bereft of birdsong and rustling leaves.
A solitary crier emerges from rubble,
head to the school, he calls, hurry, he warns,
Tracy is turning back.


The stinking disappointment of foul meat, sour milk
melted ice cream and wilted lettuce
rotting next to warm booze in fridges across Darwin.
Merry Christmas.
Women pitch in at the shelter,
cook, clean and manufacture nappies
from toilet paper for little ones with the trots.
In the face of disease, you tremble on blankets
beneath giant guillotines of jagged window glass
loosened to drop any moment.


Three days and three nights
communications are down,
a doctor hides his skills under blankets
till exposed stealing a plate of eggs
scrambled with powdered milk for kids.
There is a kerfuffle but women
and children keep going with measles
while men do what they can,
out and about.


Just as planes come to whisk you away
you hear that someone down the road
was sliced in two by a meteor
of corrugated iron. You wonder
if it was from your roof,
light a cigarette and pray.


A man in female garb is arrested
as 360 women, children and babies
board a Boeing 727; it’s capacity 180.
Tighten your seatbelts the hosties plead
as the plane’s tail dips; its nose points to heaven
from the weight of the line to the loo.
Laughter erupts.
Even the hosties are scared.

© Lindy Warrell
August 2017


“Lindy Warrell was born and raised in pubs and worked in them for many years. A retired anthropologist, now aspiring novelist and poet, she writes mostly in free verse of pressing moments and random, things. Her poetry has been published in a variety of journals and recently, a chapbook called ‘Ol Girl Can Drive. She reads her poetry live and on radio and is involved in her local poetry scene. She lives by the sea in Glenelg, South Australia.”

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Created in 2014, Flashes is a privately owned literary website. We publish short stories, non-fiction, flash fiction and poetry. Our goal is to give talented writers a platform to showcase their creativity, with an emphasis on original voice, innovative style and challenging plots.


  1. Thank you TaniAliya for this amazing poem. The memory of Cyclone Tracy has been brought back to life with this superb poetic account. The imagery and rich details propelled me back in time and allowed me to experience the fear and destruction of Australia’s deadliest cyclone. I had goosebumps reading 1974.

  2. I did read your poem many times, and every time it makes a deep impression on me. You are able to bring over all that fear and devastation, and that’s great writing.

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