"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, March 27, 2009

(I've said it before, and I'll say it again. It is Gullible's self-appointed mission in life to raise doggerel from the literary gutter and make it an acceptable form of expression. I don't even dare call this poetry. I wrote this three years ago when I had just returned to writing after forty years. Maybe I should have waited a while longer.

Today, Friday the 27th, is the 45th anniversary of the Great Alaskan Earthquake. It changed the lives of everyone who survived it. One hundred and thirty-one did not. Some of those victims were in Crescent City, Calif., who died when a tsunami arrived. At first listed at 8.6 on the Richter scale, the strength
later was revised to 9.2 moment magnitude, which is a different and more accurate method of measuring earthquakes larger than 8 Richter.

So, here you are. Some doggerel from Gullible, who had feet and meter pounded into her soul in high school, and finds it hard to charge. I was hoping to find time to scan some earthquake slides and write a more personal reminiscence, however, today I continue to deal with a frozen septic system, and now, ash fallout from the erupting Mt. Redoubt. Life is never dull here at Muskeg Manor.)

March 27, 1964

It started so gently as earthquakes do,
Just a small vibration for a moment or two.
Then a bit of a shake and a jolt and a jar
As the earth's plates collided, near and far.

It got our attention right about then,
Was no longer a joke, as others had been.
Smiles were frozen, and eyes were wide,
Should we go out or stay inside?

My eyes met another's, we decided to run.
To hell with this; this wasn't fun!
What's going on? we asked one another.
Should we stay in the open, or look for cover?

I held to my car as it bounced all around
And then I heard that incredible sound.
It sounded like ruin, it sounded like thunder:
Turnagain homes being ripped all asunder.

The earth split and opened, never to close.
In places it sank, in places it rose.
It's the end of the world, I thought with fear,
What about those whom I held so dear?

Are they alive, are they safe and well?
And still roads buckled and more buildings fell.
It rocked, it jolted, it shook even stronger,
How can it? I thought. How can it last longer?

I prayed and I begged, my eyes started to fill,
A hand gripped my heart with a cold dreaded chill.
My courage, it drained, it started to give,
That's it, I thought. Not much longer to live...

Wait, I cried. This can’t be true!
We’re bullet-proof, aren’t we? Me and you?
We’re young and we’re healthy, we’ve years left to live,
We have love to share and friendship to give.

No! I protested. I'm just twenty-three.
I've only just started. Please don't take me!
I've too much to learn, too much to do!
And yet the earth shook, not nearly through.

Still it shook harder, four minutes or more,
More bridges crumbled, and homes by the score.
Waterside towns and villages tried,
But tsunamis razed them and many folk died.

Please let it stop, came a chorus of pleas.
Then slowly... but surely.... it started to ease.
We waited and watched, fearing to trust,
But rescue, salvation became then a must.

Back in my office, I looked with dread
At where I'd been sitting: I would have been dead
If I'd stayed in that spot just a moment longer,
As the violent cataclysm had grown even stronger.

Survivors came out of the rubble in shock,
While all around we began to take stock.
Friends opened their houses for others to share,
Arms were spread wide, showing their care.

KFQD returned to the air
In less than an hour and started to share
Messages long and messages small,
Telling of safety and comforting all.

The Salvation Army set up its stands,
Giving sandwiches out to hundreds of hands.
Salami and raisin bread landed in mine:
Oh, boy, this is good. This is just fine!

Many were spared because of the day,
It was Good Friday, a holiday.
Offices closed and schools were let out,
Many lives saved, without a doubt.

Nine point two they would tell us all later,
In North America none had been greater.
Across the land the damage wide-spread,
One hundred fourteen, the toll of the dead.

There's a bond that was formed 'tween those who were there,
A bond forged in terror, the mem'ry we share.
All of us thought: I knew I could die.
We know it's the truth, we know not a lie.

We who lived through it, can never forget
The day the earth shook, and today you can bet
Our hearts stop and tremble, eyes open wide:
All the better to find places to hide.....



  1. What a terrifying experience for sure! I'm more than glad you survived and are sharing your particular story. Did you write this poem way back then?

  2. Oops. I see now that there was an introduction to your "doggerel." I scrolled up but not far enough. So it was three years ago that you wrote it, around the time we were in BWW.