Frost quakes, rare phenomena that simulate earthquakes, rattled hundreds of residents Thursday in Darke and Miami counties in Ohio and Randolph County in Indiana, emergency management officials said.
Dayton Daily News, February 11, 2011

No, they do not simulate earthquakes at all,
not the kind that rocked Japan to its core,
split wide the ocean floor and shot, fast
as a jet, its deep waters to the closest
and farthest shores, drowning mothers and fathers,
children, cousins, and friends. Noisy yes,
the explosions rose from beneath the layers
of ice and snow, as liquid seeped below,
then froze, expanded, stressing rocks
till something had to pop. Sure, residents
were scared. But not to death.
Just one moment of fright,
harmless as a horror movie, Godzilla
unreal, even melodramatic, his long tail
swinging into buildings, his roar
reminiscent of a good hard laugh.
So what if some siding wriggled
loose or a shingle fell from the roof,
if some man ran buck naked out his front
door to see what the hell had shaken his house?
He returned to his tub, warmed himself
in the shower, and when he finished,
he did what all of us want to do
and turned the water off.

*  *  *


after Vessel, mixed media on canvas, 12” x 24” by Mona Gazala, in the German Village Art League’s 2010 Language of Art Exhibit, Carnegie Gallery, Columbus, Ohio

There are four, side by side, standing
on plain pedestals, one and the same.

You love the dark lines of their mysterious
hieroglyphs, the rivers of their silhouettes—

their long lean necks, pear-plump hips.
You want to peer into all of them.

Perhaps, they carry the elements
of your desired blessing,

fabric of your breath.
And of course you think of Keats

and how one day old age
shall this generation waste,

and you picture the urn, ashes
of your grandmother within, settling.

You remember, too, the way you stood
at her grave, summoning the spirit

of your childhood to stand witness
to your grief, invoke the image

of her candy tin bejeweled
with rainbow hues,

M & Ms mounding inside.
You wish every vessel would fill

with such sweet potential, supply
bliss that cannot be contained.

For you know a time always comes
when you’ll stare at a stone

engraved with a name you once spoke
in the course of casual conversation,

name then heavy on your tongue,
since each clay body empties

and falls, eventually, to the ground.