Tuesday Poem: September Quake

September Quake.

Our chimneys came to life
bricks became birds
flew through roofs onto cars
landing on lawns building up terror

Night with a crack made its move
tiles turned to leaves and fell
laid on the lawns
in terracotta glory

The roads were rivers
rubble the shops
theatre fronts fell
foundations were flowing

Neighbour is clasping
next-door neighbour
strangers are standing
as strangers no longer

History houses hopes clattered down
Fear came thundering love stood its ground

Two days later the cat comes back
two days later she pads on in
two days gone she licks her paws
two days later she’s purring again

Note: This poem was published in The Press, Christchurch on Tuesday, September 7th 2010, after the 7.1 earthquake struck the city at 4.35am on the morning of Saturday 4th September.

Tuesday Poem


About paparoa

Writer and researcher.
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6 Responses to Tuesday Poem: September Quake

  1. Hope you & the family are all purring again too.

  2. Jeffrey Paparoa Holman says:

    Thanks Janis. We are OK and the cat is about to climb on my lap.

  3. harvey says:


    Pleased the cat came back. Pleased you survived the shock. From this distance it seems a miracle that there were no fatal casaulties. But as I said in an earlier blog I grieve for the city I grew up in. Most of its old stone and brick centre was my adolescent heartland.
    In yesterday’s blog I mention getting your book as a birthday present. I look forward to reading it.

  4. paparoa says:

    Cheers Harvey. You would not like being here then – keep going past little corner dairies and various other brick buildings between the four major avenues, and finding a space. Very Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire). I hope you enjoy the book.

  5. Pingback: The Year of the Elephant « Homepaddock

  6. Lynn Freeman says:

    Jeffrey can you contact me please? I am hosting RNZ National on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and would love to talk to you if you feel ok about that, was so moved about your earthquake poem from September and wanted to talk about the process of finding the words to describe something like that – and the hope you expressed….
    my email is above or ddi is 04 474 1417
    best wishes
    Lynn Freeman
    The Arts on Sunday

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