Mike Stone and I regularly share our work with each other on social media. Often it seems, one of us will write a poem and the other will pull up a poem with a connection. As though we grew up in the same time period, similar context, with similar life events. Which I suspect is true. With pleasure, I share these two—Mike posted his recently, and I pulled mine out of my archives.
06 January 2018—Update
CBS News reports that the CDC will soon hold a briefing to inform us of what citizens can do to prepare for a nuclear war, given current tensions with North Korea. These two poems, in this new context, shift from a tone of nostalgia to one of warning and reminder.
Hiding Under My Desk
Raanana, September 20, 2016
I remember back in fifty-six
When we were kids in school
Being taught to hide underneath my desk
During civil defense drills
To protect us from nuclear attack
Although I wondered why they’d attack a school
But our teacher told us we had a depot in town
And that kind of made sense
Although I didn’t know what a depot was
But I had my desk and I was good at hiding
So I was all set.
We didn’t know we were preparing for Death
But what did we know of Death then
Til I saw a documentary on television
About a small mushroom cloud far away
And a few minutes later there was a huge wind
That blew down houses and the skin off people.
I heard about the Rapture from our housekeeper
Which sounded like a nuclear attack.
My uncle moved to Australia that year
Probably thought it was another planet
Safe from A-bombs
It’s a wonder I survived.
from the series, Touching the Dead
When he was four years old
his brothers told him
about bomb drills
Climb under the desk and Kiss Your Ass goodbye
He nearly wet his pants.
At five years old
he rode his first carousel
of falling off the wood steed he hung on
for dear life
with no place to hide.
By his sixth birthday
schools discontinued bomb drills—
the big A would not drop.
No. Because the desk
would melt away
no place to run.
he walks down a hospital corridor
turned art gallery.
Paintings on the wall
farm and snow scenes
Gathered at one end,
distorted and angry
carousel horses throw
their heads up
on white rag
The last horse shrieks,
from unsteady hands—
desperately gallops from its stall
from the merry-go-round
from the orange fire glow
from the quiet moments
from so much death and illness
that come right after—