Michael Dylan Welch

A poetic meditation on the impact of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, with two haiku sequences and a haibun.

after the quake

the weathervane

pointing to earth +

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1990, saddle-stapled, 16 pages, 5½ x 8½ inches, ISBN 978-1-878798-03-0

  • “On Tuesday, October 17th 1989, the ground shook under the feet of millions of Northern Californians. The Loma Prieta quake shot to 7.1 on the Richter scale, causing widespread fear and panic, and billions of dollars’ worth of property damage. For some the quake lasted mere seconds. For others its effects lingered much longer. Named in Spanish for the ‘dark hill’ in the Santa Cruz mountains under which lay its epicenter, the Loma Prieta quake claimed at least fifty unsuspecting victims. This book, published one year later, is dedicated to their memory with the hope that none died in vain.” —from the book’s dedication

  • Tremors offers a quite different mood [from my book The Haijin’s Tweed Coat, with which this book was also reviewed] addressing, as it does, the Loma Prieta quake of October 17, 1989. One wishes that the last page of this book had been the first. It is a dedication to the victims of that quake; it would have honored them more arrestingly had we read that first, not last. Those of us 3,000 miles from the site of that quake are apt not to really understand how frightening, and lethal for at least fifty victims, it was. This little book makes us aware of the realities of quakes and aftershocks, aftershocks of the souls of human beings as well as in the earth. Particularly poignant is ‘another victim— / laying the body bag / on the flower bed.’ How timely, in this sad time of body bags arriving from the Iraqi conflict. A haibun, ‘Holes in the Awning,’ makes up the last portion of the book. It addresses time a year after the Loma Prieta quake when another small quake wakes the writer. ‘A healthy fear has come to stay.’ The memory of the more serious quake is evoked as we follow the writer through several weeks; everything serves to remind him of the previous year’s tremors. But, after all, the haibun ends on a positive note: ‘Today we live with what we lost. We live with what we gained.’ Even death and destruction offer gain, if we but seek it. Two fine books from an interesting writer. —Geraldine C. Little, in a review in Frogpond 14:1, Spring 1991, page 41

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