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Poem – NEVER KNOWING WHAT HIT (By Ray Gallucci)

 

NEVER KNOWING WHAT HIT

(Based on the painting [above] by Danell Millsap of the Scotch Cap Tsunami at Unimak Island, Alaska, on the night of April 1, 1946, where all five Coast Guardsmen manning the lighthouse were killed [see www.semparpac.org/tsunami.jpg])

 

I ponder the Scotch Cap Tsunami

And wonder just how it felt

When impact dismembered your body

From killer wave spawned in hell.

 

One instant you had an existence,

A presence in time and place.

Then noise you’d first heard from a distance

Smashed suddenly in your face.

 

Unless you looked out of a window,

What inkling of what to come?

A mountain foreshortening beam glow

Where you were expecting none?

 

Positioned far up from the shoreline

On headland, what need you fear

When never had ocean aforetime

Encroached even slightly near?

 

How could you conceive of an earthquake

Collapsing the ocean floor

And making a column of sea shake

Unnoticeably far from shore?

 

Though earthquake had jostled the lighthouse,

Foundation of rock stood firm.

Would take more than trembler to beam douse.

So to your routine returned.

 

But that perturbation of water

Was rapidly racing toward

Your fortress above the sea’s border

While climbing to height absurd.

 

If in the beam’s brilliance you noticed

Phenomenon rarely seen –

The ocean retreating, exposing

Its bottom, what did it mean?

 

Perhaps only minutes to scramble

To cliff top above the light.

And if you had taken that gamble,

Might you have survived that night?

 

But likely you only heard rumbling

Crescending as closer drew

Until from the night sky came tumbling

The Death that you never knew.

 

Your building of concrete and girders

Was flattened when hammer struck.

Its beacon a victim of murder.

Its tenants reduced to muck.

 

When try to your own death imagine,

The mind boggles the attempt.

For once you lose bodily function,

There’s nothing with which you’re left.

 

Religious say spirit continues,

And many on such depend.

But once lose your flesh, bones and sinews,

It’s possible you just end.

 

I cannot envision not living.

As long as I think, I am.

Impossible being a nothing,

For if I can’t think, what then?

 


Author Bio:

I am a Professional Engineer who has been writing poetry since 1990. I am an incorrigible rhymer, tending toward the skeptical/cynical regarding daily life. I have been fortunate to have been published in poetry magazines and on-line journals such as NUTHOUSE, MOTHER EARTH INTERNATIONAL, FEELINGS/POETS’ PAPER, MÖBIUS (when Jean Hull Herman published), PABLO LENNIS, MUSE OF FIRE, SO YOUNG!, THE AARDVARK ADVENTURER, POETIC LICENSE, THUMBPRINTS, UNLIKELY STORIES, BIBLIOPHILOS, FULLOSIA PRESS, NOMAD’S CHOIR, HIDDEN OAK, PABLO LENNIS, POETSESPRESSO, SOUL FOUNTAIN, WRITER’S JOURNAL, ATLANTIC PACIFIC PRESS, DERONDA REVIEW, LYRIC, THE STORYTELLER, WRITE ON! and DANA LITERARY SOCIETY.