National Poetry Month: THE SEISMOLOGIST’S TALE by Jessica Bozek

Apr 24, 2014Archive, Feature

The Seismologist’s Tale

by Jessica Bozek


It was fall and the soldier’s stories made

human piles of the citizens.

He went directly to the center of the town

and his stories spiraled outward. The few

who tried to flee were held by his soothing

voice. The citizens stopped. They grew tired

and leaned. They grew tired and sat. Engines

idled. They grew tired and sought other

bodies to entwine with theirs. Warm slow

cotton piles formed throughout the town.

The ground grew heavy.

The center of the town sunk first. The earth’s

tilt was perceptible only to the animals, who

knew the soldier as an earthquake-maker.

But this tremor moved in a different way,

had a different shape. It coned. Most dogs

avoided the soldier’s circles, kept watch

from the town’s edge. Most dogs detected in

the soldier’s voice a sense of mission. They

detected a master beyond the soldier, though

the soldier had all the trappings of an alpha


The leaves were thin on the trees. By the

time the soldier made his final circles, only

children who hadn’t learned the words

remained awake. Without language they felt

the leaves and the leaving.

This poem is from issue 39.1. You may purchase a copy here.