Something for Neil Gaiman fans

Neil Gaiman is one of the great lineup of authors contributing to Tales for Canterbury, an earthquake fundraiser.book cover

The short story anthology from Random Static Press is edited by Anna Caro and J.C. Hart. All funds raised through the sale of ebook and print copies will go to the New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal.

Contributors include:  Neil Gaiman, Karen Healey, Gwyneth Jones, Jay Lake, Cat Connor, Helen Lowe, Sean Williams, Grant Stone, Simon Petrie, Jeff Vandermeer.

Words for Christchurch: Jan Kemp

Poet and short story writer Jan Kemp sent these Words for Christchurch to us from Germany.

i.m. Victims of the Christchurch Earthquake, NZ,  22nd February 2011

Tunisia, Egypt, Christchurch, Libya, Japan,

a month of revolutions & catastrophes each one occurring

as we revolve, a bit askew, on our wobbly axis round the sun.

Each one, none less our own than our own; & of the smallest

we each know of a particular someone: we, a small

population, close-knit, here in this ‘far-pitched … hostile place …

fixed at the friendless outer edge of space’,

[Sonnet of Brotherhood, R.A.K. Mason]

someone whose name was on the missed list,

someone whose house was smash-hit or now red-ticketed for demolition,

someone the rescuers in Day-Glo-orange and hard hats

putting themselves on the line couldn’t helicopter out

from an upper floor, a punched-out window or find under

slabs of concrete and bricks that once clad the sides

of Durham & Colombo Streets. Like young city fathers,

the new skyscrapers among their nineteenth century

re-facaded elders, all now steel girders & plates & shards

made giant spilled Meccano, as if after a bomb had dropped –

the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächntis-Kirche in Berlin with its still-broken spire

left as a remembrance, a new one built no higher, from the ground up.

Will we leave Christchurch Cathedral’s spire as rubble or rebuild it

too as a sign, like the words: Monte Cassino, Gallipoli, Anzac, signs of what

we feel is and was our innocence abroad, whether or not the disaster

was human-caused or of natural force beyond control?

Who can take on Ruaumoko stirred up to such fury, striking at random to vent internal wrath

from our planet’s core even an earthquake god cannot be blamed for?

‘Perilous’, precious, this life, these lives, these deaths for which

we now all gather under the sky’s great cloak to mourn.

Jan Kemp MNZM, Kronberg im Taunus, Germany, Sunday 13 March 2011