Drought Rhythms (poem)

yellow desert knolls

Drought Rhythms


What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man.

T. S. Eliot

The Waste Land



what is this?


water falling

out of the sky


it must be angel’s tears

only they could be this pure



if they are crying…


we work hard here

this land does not

forgive easily


deep in our hearts we know

God left us a  long time ago


& now the angels are crying




our arms, legs, faces

under the furnace

gnarled & knotted

the bark of bent malignant trees


saplings in this stony valley

grow into the most twisted

stunted things


nothing seems to grow right here


only the land remains unchanged

the old moon

rising above the mountains

jagged teeth




some left

& we never saw

them again


out over the mountains

searching for rumours

of the cities


I no longer believe in them




howling storms

that only appear


in this basin

splinter our shelter


& rip everything

out of the ground


you shrug &

start again




sometimes it is the land

teaching us


sometimes there is nothing

except dusty earth

beneath our feet


sometimes our footsteps





I will leave less substantial

imprints –

I walk between earth & fire

fire & shadow


the world must be so light

balancing in the ether


our short life

such short life


show me

the point

on this tinder earth




the angels



to heaven


Joanne Fisher



When I was at school I remember reading a short story set in the Australian Outback. In the story there had been a drought for so long in the area that kids living there had never seen rain before. In the story one of the kids in the farm wakes up one morning to find it is raining and doesn’t know what it is… A few years later I found myself dwelling on this story and wondering what someone would think rain is if they had never previously seen it. This poem is set in the far future with the remnants of humanity trying to survive in an isolated valley. Any sort of faith has long since become more of a shamanistic worship of the land they try to survive on, though there are vestiges of older faiths…


This poem previously appeared on this blog in December 2017.


This poem was first published in Catalyst.



Please donate! 🙂



©2019 Joanne Fisher

9 thoughts on “Drought Rhythms (poem)

    1. I love T.S. Eliot because my dad use to always read his poems out. When I was at University I bought a copy of his selected poems, and I still have that same edition by my bed, along with Yeats. I’ve liked what Larkin I’ve read, but sadly it’s not very much.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s