Reflections on Cyclone Jasper and sections of poems.

In December 2023, Cyclone Jasper crossed the coast of Far North Queensland. 

Check out #cyclonejasper across social media to get a sense of the magnitude and widespread damage caused by this weather event, which seriously affected our FNQ communities in ways we could never have imagined.

We who are from this area have experienced many cyclones over the years. Initially the Category 2 cyclone itself did not appear to be as destructive as they have the potential to be, but the unprecedented flooding that ensued was devastating, with many losing their homes, vehicles, everything.

The immensity of the deluge and sheer volume of water that raged through our rivers was mind boggling and something we never though we would see. The impact has been immense and ongoing on many levels. Many small businesses like mine were forced to close for weeks before Xmas, due to road closures and extended power outages. Yet by the fact my home was spared, I felt extreme gratitude, and also simultaneous grief in my empathy for all who suffered. We were all affected in this way by the nature of our close communities, and the destruction that surrounded us all.

But through all the loss, metaphoric pearls emerged amidst the mud and heartbreak. The grace in the grief. Peoples kindness and resilience like a beacon as we rallied forces.

Such incredible community support, neighbours, family and friends coming together to help one another with utter selflessness and care, giving all the strength they could muster to try and help one another recover. For many, I believe such events create a complete re-evaluation of what matters most.

It was a very different Xmas for many, sombre and real, as we did our best to make the most of such a time, and yet I feel we all counted our blessings more then ever in the recognition of the truest wealth- the presence of our loved ones, their health and well being!

All the clean up crews were absolutely amazing, working around the clock through exhaustion and stress. From those angel troopers who rescued people directly amidst the flooding, to 'mud army' crews helping people salvage what they could, to the teams restoring essential services, people providing on-going community support and meals to those worst hit...just so incredible to witness.

So it's taken some time to enter 2024 with grace and fortitude, slowly but surely rebuilding with gratitude and perseverance in the face of adversity. And on some level I feel we are not so different to all these waterways...forced to find new form, and somehow renewed by all the old dead wood, and ways, that washed away...

I wrote a couple of reeeeally long poems during the cyclone and beyond, a cathartic process. Beginning with the first wild winds that presented, my writing became a story of my experience and feels, some parts very personal, spanning over days, moods and expression fluctuating throughout all that ensued.  Due to their length, I feel its best I edit, and in time would like to share here via links to actual voice recordings. I am excited about doing this with the majority of my poems in the year ahead, once time allows!

For those of you interested, I will share intermittent sections here as a taster... (still very long, haha)...


CYCLONE JASPER POEM (beginning 13/12/23)

I do love a good cyclone!

Primal instincts to hone!

Get us through the guts of things,

Wild winds incoming, potent messages she brings!


We’ve been lucky here so far,

Just deluge and winds severe,

Didn’t cop the eye this time, phew!

‘Jasper’ is only Cat 2…

But I’ll call it a she, 

Like the stone, all mottled n shiny,

For these humbling events they are planetary!

So unpredictable, are these massive energies.


Blow out the dead wood and reset us allll in the hood,

My community let’s get things understood!

Funny creatures we are when all routines are disrupted,

Come back to what matters in the fundamental bust up!


Prepare best, then surrender,

Natures rhythms won’t defend ya!

But she’ll bring you to remember…

What you must protect yeah?


Such gratitude I feel, 

For all of the reals!

Life experience to apply,

In what we can affect, or not, aye,

Self responsibility, 

is also a necessity.


Hands n hearts and care we’ve got!

Try keep this cup full so I can give to thee, but not the whole lot,

Even as I remember boundaries,

Re who and how much I can help,

And to what degree? 

Family, my priority.

And if u tryna help yourself too, then I’ll give what I can to ye!

( ----------------------------------- ) ...

Of one thing I’m pretty certain, 

That all most of us really want, is to feel held and heard, 

safe behind the curtain, 

of our egos absurd.

A sense of belonging begins with self knowledge,  comfort within one’s own skin,

Unique as we are, in our humanity we’re kin.

And deep things don’t always heal,

In one generation or lifetime, of feels...

Perhaps they carry through, 

For us to be willing to understand our own due.

Only then are our choices made grounded and true,

To transmute any trauma, 

Wash away in all this water,

Pass on the positives we oughta,

Bless All the sons and daughters!

( --------------- )

Howled my griefs hidden,

in the banshee winds forgiven,

All those things of which I rarely speak,

With my purge I find peace,

Breathe in and step forward,

From such remarkable release,

Find a way to tame this beast,

Begin putting things back in order,

Fire up this geni n get shit sorted!


I don my gumboots to go assess the terrain and the mess, 

Trek to my neighbors, over powerlines all stretched n down on the ground, all thick with leaves,

Under fallen trees n rainforest sounds I weave, 

And there in his home he is safe and blessed,

For this giant tree has fallen, shattering half of his nest,

Only metres away from where he lay his head to rest!

Roof partially crushed,

Holy fark my mate could’ve just turned to dust!

In that terrifying moment,

By what grace of god do we own it?

This precious n fragile existence,

Will ultimately be gone in an instant!


So count all the blessings, proper n true,

And get on with this gift that’s for me and for you!

I joked with him, “We not outa the woods yet mate”, pls excuse the pun!,

Coz with this ongoing deluge, more may come undone,

As the ground she softens,

Old trees once protectors can easily become weapons,

Keep an eye on the spectrum!

( --------------------------------)

First time in 3yrs that I’ve closed my little shop,

Such a massive relief, yet the rent doesn’t stop!

I think of carefree chapters of old, when time was mine in youth so bold,

In recent years so much responsibility to hold,

Coffers still empty, but I see what is gold!

In the precious moments that unfold.


Sometimes forwards feels like backwards,

As I invest all in this process,

This shanghai she’s drawing back tight,

And in this new year coming, my wad will take flight!

To reclaim my time and bring all my wishes to light!

Maintaining my creations for a future plan,

Bustin my guts, coz I never worked too long, for ‘the man’...

( ----------------------------------)

How I would’ve loved to rest,

With this relentless heavy rain,

But up n down these stairs I go again and again,

Tending leads as I alternate the flow, 

To power my freezers, try save all my produce u know?

Those chillis all stuck in the water that’s overflowed,

Refrozen like rock, in the bottom I hit,

Twill be another job to sort all of it!

And that will be nothing, 

In the community clean up that be coming.


Days now I’ve been here with no wifi or power,

So dependant we've become on theses privileges and towers!

I’ve kinda enjoyed it having no comms,

Realming through thoughts so I pour out this poem,

Tap into instincts from all I have known,

Had a good moment,

To consider and process,

Made a joke with myself amidst all of my nonsense,

To proclaim out loud,

 “Thankyou Geni, for being in my life!”

Such a practical measure to help me navigate the strife!

Laughed at myself, tho I had a little cry,

Count all of the blessings, try not fall into the whys,

Feeling the gravity of life times.

( ------------------------------)

I look out to the darkened sky,

The climatic low surrounds and I know,

There are others far worse off then I.

Much strength it takes, 

Some mornings I wake,

Get up n go again,

Set my mind with clarity, to all I must attend!


Seems the worst of the cyclone has passed on through,

But perhaps its reforming out west coz it’s true,

This relentless rains gotten steadily more heavy,

The wind is picking up, getting wild n blowy!

An emergency text just made it through, with a warning to get ready!

To evacuate Cairns for big flooding is due!

And now phone says ‘no service’ and all I can do, 

Is sit here and pray coz I’m so worried about you!

All my people down the hill, omg pls steel your will, 

Go now, and get up high, be wise!

Please oh pls, stay safe and dry!!


And when all of this water finally subsides,

Hug our dear ones close,

All that matters the most!

The clean ups gona take weeks,

And all things they will reek.

Of salvation we will speak!

As we fend off the mould, the mud and the mozzies, 

The least of our worries!

And this is what grounding really means,

Get them gumboots on baby

try make everything clean!


Wheat from the chaff will be sorted, as all losses are reported.

This system cannot be thwarted!

For this is what comes with this powerful land,

Perhaps those who came post-covid now better understand,

It’s not for the faint hearted,

Might even return to where they started,

Free up the rental market,

For locals not as flush,

who have suffered more then enough.

But these are random thoughts now,

A distraction from these elements that force us to bow,

Over such forces we have no control!

Though no warring factions shoot at us,

Like other countries political pus!

Aren’t we lucky, it’s just nature that hammers us.

Ahh haha ah. Why oh why?

If we don't laugh we'll probably cry.

Holy cow, I bow to thee,

That this massive reset will set us free!

Realign us with synchronicity!


Nature here will test, 

all the privilege that has blessed.

So cease my speak, and shut up is best!

All these words, self-indulgent,

Divulging my divergent,

And really don’t cut the mustard!

Now it’s flooding downstairs,

But it’s the ppl down there for whom I care!

Keep delivering my prayers,

Coz I feel pretty scared,

As I brace for the news of how everyone’s fared,

Sending all my love and care out there.

( ------------------------------)

So now i think its Thursday,

Xmas coming soon they say,

And here’s where her spirit will actually shine,

Humbled through all of the crying,

That it ain’t about all the stuff we've been buying,

More shit to be swept away…

Only precious if it holds memories, that brighten today...

( -------------------------------)

 ❤️🙏 c.  Imogen O'Neil - Dec.2023


The next poem I wrote after NYE.

Again, the initial raw version is very long, and personal, so I will only share sections... 

'BEYOND JASPER' (3/01/2024)

2024 dawning, good morning.

A new year yawning,

Potential yearning, 

To be filled with possibility!

As we enter with humility.


‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me’…

Some psychedelic beats where our feet did pound,

In the collective tapestry, 

Oh this journey,

An ongoing process,

We can only progress…


Coz we all just got hammered,

On so many levels, unravelled we stammer,

Like that green ant nest I kicked in the puddle,

Before things even began…

All blown to smithereens, in a muddle!

Then drowning in there,

But they will rebuild things,

I thought with care.

( ---------------------------------)

And gently with patience,

Climb the fence, brush off the dense,

Like those marsh flies that suck,

Slap their green eyes with an Omm, 

don’t come unstuck,

Though so much feels so wrong,

Things broken that once belonged,

Deepest prayers for those,

Who couldn’t weather the storm,

Auuuuuhhmmmmmmm 🙏💚


And my heart bears a cross,

For all those who have lost,

Through this natural disaster, 

Can’t rebuild any faster,

Time. Grace. Spaaaace.

In the rebound, 

Only gentle sounds now 🙏🧚‍♂️✨


‘Slowly start putting everything back together’…

My hopes I no longer shall tether,

Just trust in natures plan,

I’m a woman, not a man.

Remain receptive, focus on my art!

What reciprocates will surely fill my heart.

( ------------------------------)

Each our own needs,

As these new ways seed,

And settle, like little petals,

Shining grains of sand,

Washing through the undertow,

Of gravel and boulders,

Oh these sore shoulders!


Settling out gradually,

In the slipstreams of synchronicity,

Will all find their right places ultimately,

Steady steadily, she’ll find true form,

And that new creek bed will be adorned, 

With shining little jewels that capture the light…


And fresh dreams will take flight, 

From our own insights.

And I’m just wishing for peace,

As this channel flows and speaks,


For all of the world,

It’s harmony she seeks,

Like gold or a pearl,

Darkness and pressure make diamonds!

These things most valued May they remind us!!


That eventually, every shining star turns to dust,

Live true and strong we must!

For all we love, rise above,

Do our best to re-adjust,


Make the most of this precious gift,

With an attitude of gratitude 

and respectful actions enrich!

Sift through the silt and shift the shit,

Coz tho’ we aim to tame her,

Life can be a bitch,

But troopers rarely speak of this.



I listen, to the messenger birds,

It’s not absurd,

And they're singing,

That every little thing gona be alright!

Surrender my fight...

( ---------------------------)

Keep streamlining this machine,

My mind n body to clean,

For this new year unfolding,

Whatever we were holding, 

Be gone, with grace.

Paint that gentle smile back on my face,

And a Happy New year,

Of it we can only make…

It so, and So mote it Be 🙏,


For this new day is free,

Breathe in this gentle breeze,

In the free sauna be blessed! 

For she genuinely wants the best,

For you and for me.


With love,

And integrity,

through eternity,

Coz we’re all just tiny specks,

Of infinity.

Yes we are, ah yes. 

Ye ye! Oh Bless.

c. Imogen O'Neil.




Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published