After the Quake by Haruki Murakami is about characters trying to reconcile their sense of who they are with the world around them. They are forced to do this while trying to make sense of the tragedy of the Kobe earthquake, which struck this city in Japan in 1995. They run away from their mothers and fathers and husbands and wives, they save a world that may or may not be worth saving, and they are forced to choose whether or not they are going to bind themselves to the people they love.
Mocking the routine "how are we today?" asked hospital patients, Wiler responds, "We're fine but we are / choosing not to choose / death today / if you please." Having been diagnosed with aids four years ago, this cannot be taken as just a bit of jesting. While this isn't one of those uplifting "isn't life great" collections of poems--though it is--it isn't a poor Jack whose had a rotten bit of bad luck kind of book--which it also is.
While Turner is an African American with strong roots in the black community, his vision extends to humanity in general, those who've become "the anonymous spoils of war" of prejudice, of all the cruelty people are capable of. He hears the "Ancient voices..../ the ancestors: Listen! the say / Thou shall not forget."