Thursday, August 9, 2018

Poetry Thursday: "The Great Unleashing"

Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.  It was a devastating weapon, but many historians think that the traditional war was likely to kill just as many people if it had continued to drag on.

I think of all the ways we've envisioned the apocalypse, from pale riders on pale horses to a mushroom cloud.  What will the twenty-first century choose as its apocalyptic icon? 

The Great Unleashing

J. Robert Oppenheimer appears in my dreams.
He stands in the dark background, a slight
scowl on his face, his lips pressed
together tight.

John of Patmos tries to convince
him that what he birthed
was not so bad—in fact it showed
great imagination: “The best I could muster
was death delivered on horseback.
But you—splitting atoms, that great unleashing.”
A ghost of a smile haunts Oppenheimer’s visage.

Ronald Reagan dodders by—his muddy memory
restored to him upon death.
He counts up all the times he chose
not to use the weapons at his disposal
and wonders how history would have changed
if he had made different decisions.
A Greek chorus of dead
leaders nods. Oppenheimer turns away.

No comments: