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Tsunami 12/26/2004

by seanfarragher 

Posted: 28 February 2005
Word Count: 429
Summary: The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake on December 26, 2004 which generated tsunamis that caused one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern history. This rare type of earthquake known as a megathrust earthquake struck at 00:58:53 UTC (07:58:53 local time)in the Indian Ocean off the western coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. It was the largest earthquake on Earth since the 9.2-magnitude Good Friday Earthquake off Alaska in 1964.

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December 26, 2004 07:58:53 local time
Western Coast of Northern Sumatra

The ocean rolls civilization into layers of peat
and the air, full of great waves, dry desert
nothing to breathe but the songs of the curls
of tsunami so large a universe is lost in seconds.

There is no musical phrase but echoes as oceans
war with the trees throwing human tantrums

At the edge of the water there’s a dirge
simple beat, like musical dirty coins,
an accordion playing porno loops for puppets.
Nothing heard but the mime of the clarinet
and the churn of the bass and an off pitch guitar;
we assume as the skies are clouds and burnt
sienna rushed from wings and all sex stands
still in the tips of waves that crack spines
and killer whales cannot escape rip-line.

On the last day healing began.
We will make water clean again
The buildings empty; dunes rebuild –

The underside of the river blends
zing and zarrow as sand melds fingertips
in the usual ways of sediment, which
sometimes brushed my cheek as sensory
idols turned the leer and make the hot face
that instant calm after love a complete
lake, where water is more than fire
quenched lakes at fundus or sentiment.

Sex began the wave and recovery too.
Pieces of skin were the seeds of the faces
that will haunt the waters of 100,000 dead
and the human rage off the terror we know
visits on the underside of hysteria and loneliness.

Nature has its obituary and we mark down
numbers in red and black, minus light
again, always the loss of light on the edge of leaf
where the stars such small items actually
are the compendium of miracles for tongues
she broke open with a brief morning swim --
for chance has no alphabet and no lies.

After, when time was water and walls
I no longer count the graves of ancestors
but mark their acts with fervor
and when I step to the altar
I count my life as evidence
for mystery plays and docudrama;
I climb down cliff without any guide;
my mask is lost, no longer protects
from ocean or waves without mercy.

Here in the courtyard, the water from the fountain
runs over the statue dedicated to the nightmare.

Even in tide pools, terror pastes after shock
vibrates when wave commits when the beach
has lost all dimensions. There’s nothing
to do but run. Every step buries mollusk,
brachiopods and Silver Star;
faithful ashes blown out again
where nothing remains but return.


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Comments by other Members

paul53 [for I am he] at 15:39 on 04 March 2005  Report this post
Maybe I have missed something obvious here, but all these references to sex in the poem strike me as unwanted and unnecessary, robbing an otherwise well-written piece.
Maybe your intentions are honourable, maybe I just do not understand your inferences, but do not be surprised if other readers also find this poem discourteous to so many dead. I am certain they found nothing sexual about being killed.

seanfarragher at 16:08 on 04 March 2005  Report this post
Sex and death are historically related in most literature. Death is the end of sex as sex is the beginning. Life is a continuum. Read Baudelaire. Read MOST of the modern writers including Joyce, Henry Miller, Fowles, De Sade, and Rimbaud.

I have no honoroable intentions other than the poem, and the absolute horror of what happened. ADD to it that this tragedy took place as part of a sequence of tragedies (some man made) of the last decade and this one I call the eras of terrorism, sex and death. Sex is political, social and I am certain when that horror struck there was someone who died engaged in sex. I am not making light of sex and death, but only pointing out the obvious.... to make original work you have to not be afraid of stepping on toes. I thank you for your observation. I believe, also, that poetry needs to be discourteous at times.

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