Two Poems

Figure Study: Trinity

   Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1945

They taught them to care & not to care.
The trick of battle lines & national sacrifice.
They are building a bomb in what was a boys’ school
where students are only echoes among the yucca.
The fields grow chainlink & checkpoints.
The only music now comes from concertina wire
humming with caught garbage. Little Boy
is sleeping nannied by armed men & dogs.
Surrounded, coaxed by work lamps to grow
fatter, yielding its inner casing to hands rough
with patriotic fervor. To fill with ghosts yet to be,
apprehensive to birth. Men sleep with rifles on boys’ old cots.
It’s midnight in the Mess & three men huddle
over a childrens’ game. Drop a ball & swipe the jacks.
A game because, for now, they can take it all back.




Denude

   The Delaware River

everywhere shambling small devotions
trespass our flesh
we are brook trout in a blighted streamlet or sturgeon fed on
tomato husks, plastic fork tines, bitumen runoff
streams & creeks pay a tribute of bones to
big, hungry rivers fish-killed & fluent in the crush of species

what grows will grow to fill the space provided
we used to jump from the canal bridge into the eddy
& slip into the pulse rutting against the wingdam’s concrete
until the papers told us, like
old German grandmothers, bent-backed farmers,
embattled queens, that the river kills &

hidden beneath the flow rebar rusts
like the snarl beneath the stranger’s lips
our river grew riptide to resist

your hands won’t swim here any longer
take heed, you leap, spear thigh on the rotten
axel of a Chevy, we won’t fish you out

what grows here grows ruins like armor plating
defiant faces darkened with dye from up-river mills
this river has fingers
dive to meet their touch, kiss them
with your rib cage
choke on water, trespasser, choke on

we, the storm drain palimpsest rewired with fishhooks       
we, the chiaroscuro blooming across sunken railroad ties        
we, the spit of acid rain wetting limestone lovers’ lips
    taking them clean off



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