JAY RAMSAY (England)
80,000 dead and rising
Not a plane this time
- but something from far
- out of the earths
- the shifting seething
- gathering to its exploding
- - burst radiating out from
- undersea in all directions
destinations to be, out of the surge -
- surf, out of the open sea,
Imagine the rage
- and you have already seen
- what soft water can do at
- hardened to steel -
- surreal, super-real...
And we? Are the shipwrecked survivors
- the lucky landfall ones
- still with our lives intact
- not searching for family
- in the open sores of
- bulldozed into plague pit
- threatening disease.
But what tale shall we tell?
- Is it of a world
- locked in its trance
- of studied indifference?
Is it the thinly disguised hate
- of a random taxi driver
- rationalizing a cull of
- as long as it isnt
- very parochial own?
Or is it of one world, at last
- that can reach out with
- like another wave, rising
- from all of our hearts?
Can a killer wave show us the way,
- the only way?
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POEM WITHOUT A NAME
suddenly a wall of destruction
Sleeping in the soft sand
1000 upon 1000's of souls
brilliant flash of light
spiraling in a world between worlds
Fragments of pain
deep into the heart
Larger then life
All I got to offer is
in those darkest of times
All I got to offer is
oceans of joy
as dawn breaks
A father tells of his missing daughter
with moving dignity,
holding back raw emotion
and I cry his tears
and she is my daughter
and he is my father
and we are together
in our tragedy.
ASIA EARTHQUAKE CHILDREN'S
FREEPOST, BILLERICAY, CM12 OBR
MAKE CHEQUE PAYABLE TO UNICEF.
- FROM A
PRAPAT, West Sumatra,
Got up, cold and unable to sleep anyhow, around 6.45am.
Saw a black blob on the dark wall opposite my
Thought it was probably a big roach. It was.
bother to scare it away.
Fun isnt everything. Youve got
sometimes, you know. (The Dharma Bums.)
SAMOSIR ISLAND / LAKE TOBA,
Came for Western Breakfast. Two hours till the
Therell be a boat along sometime to ferry
me over to
the mainland. The lake looks typically Toban:
but calm and cold. The wind picks up; throws
Sumatrans, souvenir shops, babies, buses and dogs.
After today, one more full day? Really, three
in effect. Get to Brastagi (5 hours!) 3pm. Bus
probably tuesday am. If its short enough,
Stomach bad. Blame the good 1500 rp. chocolate
The lake turned out not to be calm, but very
Thought a few times wed all end up in the
water, but it
turned out alright. There's no end to the depth
water it seems: it's the deepest, darkest grey
before blackness. It rolls over in sleepy waves
force of weaponry. I'd not want to fall in there:
let me back out.
BRASTAGI. 19.1.87. 6.45am.
Im knackered. Bad
dreams so much running in last one.
Woke up, got up, before 6.30am. Slept OK.
despite disturbed sleep for last few nights, and
I dont see
them stopping till Im home.
Since yesterday Ive had an idea Im in
for some kind of
breakdown. I can feel something move in me. Im
exhausted. If I am about to get ill, I hope it
waits till I get
home, thats all.
Today Ill go to Medan and stay the night
there. Book a
boat seat to go with my ticket today. Boat leaves
Still a long time. Dont relish a return to
that city: the
word dive is overused, but applied to
Medan its the
only suitable noun. Something it shares with
Though I heard Jakarta is worse.
MEDAN. 20.1.87. 9.15am.
For four and a half months Ive been going
Im not sure Ill feel like Ive
arrived until the plane touches
down at Heathrow. The irony doesnt escape
On the boat. Tired, but not expecting much sleep.
dying back home. A race against time.
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The sea moans its hunger tonight.
With its many mouths it devours the shore,
here, in this strange-tongued coast,
haunted by the ghosts of cities -
sixteen lost in Cantred Gwaelod,
the lowest hundred, its hoard below.
So the bards sing - sing of its vanished riches,
its fields and orchards,
villages and castles.
To dolphins and lonely fishermen
now the sunken bells toll -
a long low note in the deep
ringing for the drowned.
And half a world away
the same story is told
with deadly effect.
A sea god shrugged his shoulders
and massacred a continents children.
The necklace of its archipelago broken,
beads strewn -
numberless souls claimed
by a displaced sea,
a bitter tide, a tsunami of death.
Leaving a flotsam of lives wrecked,
families ruined, towns razed,
like the mythic kingdom of Cardigan Bay,
but for real.
A reality too vast to comprehend
except perhaps through legend.
A catastrophe as overwhelming as the ocean,
unless viewed from a wind-devilled cliff
with friends close,
fragile and precious,
holding on with love -
singing into the storm
and casting prayers into the darkening depths.
As all the while kings of the world,
arrogant as Maelgwyn,
sit on thrones of feather and wax.
And the waves thunder in
tasting of tears.
Disaster Emergencies Committee
Tel: 0870 60 60 900
Without a noise, a warning,
or clarion call
the sudden gulf of the impossible
striking from so far below
to stand, those who remained,
and see the remnants
of life, and death, strewn
powerless against such force:
nature's disquieting call to arms.
Surrendering, after first strike,
we begin to rebuild an existence.
W.B. KECKLER (USA)
I was just walking out the door,
something in ink,
tho hat's already on,
coat's zipped up
is what we remember
maybe it's childish
whose wave of us
it's going through
is, is, is...
A girl, four years old,
is still fuschia
(no one here but
a cat's head
lifts atop rubble pyramid,
there's only one
islands the dead
as Isis gathered
she starts to climb
to the surf
water can say
all these words
water has written
each heart means
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- A TSUNAMI
Tsunami Wave swept them away.
- Died in an
instant, on Boxing Day.
- Hundreds of
thousands of souls
- Gone to water
- The young,
the sick, the old.
- The rich and
beautiful, the brave.
- In some
- No one was
- The scale of
- will be with
- for many a
How can this be?
- Their destiny!
- How can we
come to terms,
- with such
- I guess all
we can do, is try
- and help the
survivors get through.
- And think
ourselves very, very lucky,
- As, there but
for the geography go we.
- Those poor
- now rest in
peace, whilst the bereaved
- remain lost
in despair and grief.
That terrible day they died
- will go down
- We can hope
and we can pray
- they did not
suffer badly that day.
- As natures
most awesome power
- set against
the Indonesian coastline..
- in one
moment, it did devour.
- Never again
- take for
- the enormity of Nature's Power!
the depths of the Indian Ocean
- Mother Nature
- On an
- Crashing onto
all she touched
- Restoring the
- To her
- Extracting a
- Paid for with
- In hearts
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A baptism, a new beginning. And it involves
so much compassion. I dreamed I had washed
in death, had strode through dirty foam -
my hurt gesture
to stir up and invert
the order of charity -
I gave my daughter to this appeal, saw her
float off without a face. A sacrifice - one third
of which was children - to renew the abode
of dragons, to make a new purity out of maidens
you must steep in salt water to obtain
I place a drop of this girl on my tongue.
She is swept inland from the coast, deep into
my interior. Diminutive bodies. Old dames. A
tree decoration I made from a boy, each palm
has this kind of fairy raised over filth.
A portion of meat. These water babies keep
texting me from the bottom of the sea.
Plankton epithet. Suitcases washed inland -
designer jeans, tops, beachwear - a thong
finely woven with gold thread
amongst silt in the temple. Items to sell
on eBay. A broken backed lady from HR
on week two knotting rope to coco palm -
this flood will make good postcards
to collect. A harvest for the factory ships.
God will fake more Darwinian splendours -
people living like eels - swimming upstream
to spawn; in the sluice, the chatter at low tide.
Already on sale in the redemptive harbour,
mer-girls and boys. A monkey torso stitched
to the tail of a fish and dried with neroli
in the native ovens. Disaster kitsch.
The teeth of tourists knocked out on a wall
become charms, remedies. An eerie silence
tunnelled from the moon. This sticky child,
a challenge to all our ideas of beauty, bloated
after two days her cherry eyes dark with
the promise of life - a stag carcass upended
like a Somerset road kill - the unborn dead
on my tongue. The most angry are men
needing supper, sitting down to a plate in thrall
to sea urchins, soft lobsters, jumbo shrimps.
You send your money my lovely and
display your big heart but what of the
refugees? English compassion is good PR
but does not extend to survivors like these.
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(aged 12) (WALES)
There came a wave like a great hand,
everything on the land,
fingers of foam, circling round,
trees, raising homes to the ground,
aimed its fist at everything in sight,
could survive this dreadful might,
ran in and out in time with the tide,
to go and nowhere to hide,
hand was born in the belly of the ocean,
by plates creating the potion,
grew in fury, it grew in power,
anger to be unleashed within the hour,
one new what was on the way,
were working, children at play,
shriek of surprise as somebody saw,
huge wall of white horses galloping ashore,
beasts dissolved under the heat,
hundreds of thousands off their feet,
was crashing and crunching and tearing apart,
its way into everyones heart,
were lost, bodies found,
killed by a hungry hound,
the punch came with the force of an army,
few that survived understood the meaning of