The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Andrea L. Hackbarth

Subduction Zone


Under all we’ve built, an earthquake
lurks. Stilled
            by ancient patience
unmatched by human resolve,

the ground lies quiet till it’s ready to make
one glorious move.
Know this:         it will wake you

from the waking pretense
of a firm foundation.
Even the sleeping earth can take
down our constructions,

                                    upend our sense
that the ground lies ever quiet, stilled
for us as we make our faltering moves.

Make peace with this: you are liable to break
wide open. Our ambitions are matchstick
houses propped up on the deepest faults.

Better to bed down
            with simple luck and fate,
with the ground, lying quiet, lying ready.
                                                    Let it make

of us much better fools. It has staked
its claims.          Give in: take
down your tinpot defenses.

Lie still with the waiting earth.
Let yourself quake wildly
             when it makes
                          its move.




ANDREA L. HACKBARTH lives in Palmer, Alaska, where she works as a writing tutor and piano teacher. She holds a BA in English from Lawrence University and an MFA from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Some of her work can be found in Mezzo Cammin, Gravel, Measure, and other print and online journals. She blogs about poetry and other poetic things at



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