Krakatoa 1883

I just learned about this today, via @boredzo via @rtmfd on Twitter. Since I’m still out of titles for Poem-a-Day 2014, I figured I’d use this as subject matter.

The year: ’83, with the eighth month near done
Ash and smoke lingered on breezes above
But no one predicted the spectacle to come
On that day in the Southern Pacific

People, unknowing, many miles away
Without any cares for the isle in the bay
When Mount Krakatoa lived up to its name1
On that day in the Southern Pacific

When all of a sudden—with a CRACK! with a BOOM!
A pillar of smoke, seventeen-mile plume
The mountain collapsed, having brought its own doom
On that day in the Southern Pacific

And out from that island, that monstrous abyss
Came tremendous amounts (in large chunks) of pumice
And a wave rolled out high, with death as its promise
On that day in the Southern Pacific

But more than just solids and liquids and gas
The sound that it made was the longest to last
As if Days of Judgment had now come to pass
On that day in the Southern Pacific

That BANG sent an omnidirectional wave
Through the air to the people yet miles away
Beginning at Mach 2—the shock that it made!
On that day in the Southern Pacific

If you’ve forgotten how loud this is, here’s a refresher:
It’s easily making jackhammers the lesser
With literally a million more times the pressure2
(2.5 inches, specific)

The blast was heard one hundred miles away
And then at two thousand later that that day
And even at three thousand people would say
That they heard from the Southern Pacific

But after three thousand, did it stop? It did not!
Though it faded from what you might call “earshot”
Instead it continued—now who would have thought?
On that day in the Southern Pacific

Just that day? No! It continued to knell
A ripple that rang the Earth’s atmosphere bell
Repeating each 34 hours, it fell
For five days from the Southern Pacific

Can you hear me?
How about from 3,000 miles away? 5,000 kilometers?
That’s how loud Krakatoa was
On that day in the Southern Pacific.

And remember too that people died
On that day in the Southern Pacific.

  1. Okay, this is just a pun. “Crack”-atoa. Or “Crack”-atau↩︎

  2. I’m fudging my decibel math here, but the eruption was easily 60 decibels louder than some other reference of “extremely loud noise” even from 100 miles away (which is where the 2.5in Hg comes from). ↩︎