Blasts from the past

Hi everyone,

It was a long week but a good one, as long as I don’t count losing all those books from print. I think I’ll amuse myself — and hopefully you — by posting a few excerpts from books are will be no more. Here are the two opening pages from EARTHQUAKES: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST MOMENTS; Boyds Mills Press, 2004. The dedication read: In Memory of John Harrison.

(Settlers in rustic cabins rousted by violent earthquake.)

In 1811, at two in the morning
just nine days before Christmas,
settlers in New Madrid, Missouri
all woke at once.
Their furniture was bouncing,
pots and pans flying.
Cabins shook.
Chimneys tumbled.
Roofs fell in.

(Outside ground is splitting, streams flowing into cracks, tree trunks flying.)

Outside was worse.
Trees snapped in two.
The ground rolled.
Here and there it cracked open,
swallowed streams,
and squirted muddy water.
People hundreds of miles away
felt the shocks.
At that time it was
the worst earthquake
in our country’s history.


11 comments on “Blasts from the past

  1. A blast indeed! So vivid, I can almost feel the couch bouncing and hear the rumbles! Such fine work, so sad to this and the others go out of print. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I grew up in the bootheel of Missouri, and felt little tremors all the time. Scary to think that someday there could be another “big” one! I read a book about the New Madrid earthquake years ago – pretty terrifying!

    • It’s one of the scariest scenarios in the country, Susan. And sooner or later it will happen. Terrifying for sure.

      • We lived in Memphis in the early 1990’s when there was a big earthquake prediction. Of course, nothing happened. I remember walking into WalMart a few days later, and a man was returning an entire shopping cart of gallon jugs of water he’d bought “just in case” the earthquake really happened. Nothing wrong with being prepared, but I could tell he felt a bit silly about the whole deal!

      • Some soothsayer predicted it and caused a wild panic. It was an awful, silly, unnecessary experience. I seem to recall that the clown went slinking off somewhere afterward.

  3. Yep – there was quite a bit of panic created by his prediction! My mother-in-law wanted us to get out of the area for a few days. Of course, that just wasn’t practical, so we stayed.

  4. I adore that poem, David, and the shaky-breaky word pictures you painted. I wrote & drew about it in my Mark Twain book some yrs back & adored discovering that Theo. Roosevelt’s great uncle was making his steamboat trip down the Mississippi [w/ his bride & their dog] RIGHT THROUGH THAT QUAKE – can you imagine???

    • Thank you, Cheryl. Can you imagine how Roosevelt’s great uncle and all on board that boat must have felt when the devil broke loose? It split the earth and redirected river channels.

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