Earthquake of 1989

M. Fennell

October 1989


Note: This is not a light poem. It is meant to be read slowly.

This was the biggest earthquake since 1906. I was living in San Francisco at the time. It was a major event. Buildings were severely damaged. We all felt threatened.

The experience changed my life forever, in many, many ways.


Earthquake of 1989:

The land was rolling
Waves like the ocean
Increasing pulses
Swaying motion

Around the radio
The crowd huddled
Instead of comfort
Our fears doubled

The Bay Bridge fell in
Freeways collapsed
The City is on fire
Annihilated perhaps

Smoke blew toward us
Like Armageddon
Is the city now rubble
Like ancient Athens?

We looked at each other
Then within us
Once total strangers
We begin trust

Sleep was restless
Fearing more shocks
The street was silent
As if The Bomb dropped

Charity and chance
Reduced the losses
People gave freely
Behaving less caustic

Beautiful disaster
Made hearts more fit
Like a Capra film
With Nature's script


1. "Capra" refers to Frank Capra who made "It's a Wonderful Life"


2. The experience changed my life forever, in many, many ways.

I've always tried to tell people about it who weren't there. They could only partially understand.

Now we have had another tragedy: the Towers in New York on Sept 11.

Today I tell people this: If you can understand many of those feelings on Sept 11, you can start to get a sense of what all of us in San Francisco were going through on that Oct 17, 1989.

For a full story on the feelings and lessons from that day in 1989, read "When Disaster Strikes"


3. See full story When Disaster Strikes for all the details of that day and the effects on those of us who were there.