Fall 2016

Volume 11, Issue 2



Los Alamos, New Mexico:
An Open Letter to Radiation Poisoning


It’s 1943 & you’re moaning your secret:
Manhattan Project. Ore, more accurately,
you’re what our pickaxes tick-tick-scrape.
Shunting of our land, splintering Church Rock
& dethroning Crown Point. You’re what
our native son’s dig for: atomic #92.

It’s 1945 & you’re a rich tenor rising in fat men’s
throats. You’re the splintered soprano squealing
above Nippon sons, a hollow bullet served steamed
on “Silverplates,” Boeing B-29 “Super-fortresses.”
You’re the loudest whistle whining above metropolitan
Japan. Where we hide beneath our desks. It doesn’t
matter: you’re so full of yourself since growing out
of nothing but the dry pustules shaved from our art-
eries, dug from the dirt of our burial mounded souls.
We built fire lines, then picked the petals off oleanders red
& pink: the first flower to bloom after your
kaboom at our scalded pink feet.

It’s 2012 & you’re still the abandoned Northeast Church
Rock mine. One of half a thousand permanent
waste sites oozing out of the Navajo Nation’s
crippled left shoulder. You’re not a secret
anymore, skittering down the runaway
veins of our once big men, our once little boys, the ones
with pickaxes who are like you now:
hollow & scraped & shunted
rising with atomic #redwhite&blue

It’s 2000-fill-in-the-blank & you’re the only voice
left to make sure aspens bloom again in our spring:
so our boys can pick up axes
silvery-grey, soft and strong, good for pulping
the paper our children use for finger painting
forests of strawberry blonde.



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