Jennifer Richter

Seismologist Cento

Charles F. Richter journal entry, 6/20/26:
It was a surfeit of scientific occupation which led some years ago to a breakdown of my nerves…


Only one step
to go
so calmly there I stood upon the ledge
that for the moment I was half

it was the realization of the artistic, or as I called it then, the spiritual aspect of the world, which first raised me out of that depression…


I make this prayer in experiment
let me be less uncertain in my mind
of words
just out beyond the circle of my light
they are all here

and it was the final accomplishment of self-expression in poetry which at last permitted me to return to my work.


At last
as if I were to turn the rusty locks
the sound of poetry
at the door
my friend
at last
you came


Source & Method

“Seismologist Cento” is woven entirely of lines and titles exactly as they appear in the archived poetry of Charles F. Richter, creator of the earthquake magnitude scale.

Jennifer Richter’s poetry collections No Acute Distress and Threshold were both published in the Crab Orchard Series and were both named Oregon Book Award Finalists. Richter teaches in Oregon State University’s MFA program.

Issue 25