What is Drastic + Dramatic

Friday, December 07, 2012


I had two poems published in Touchstones journal this semester. They asked me to read one at their release night event, My Word!. I read "Peacemaker" and I think it went really well. I was nervous at first. Usually I'm not so bad, but I had to calm my mind and whomping heart with some discreet yoga breathing before going up. Man, sometimes it just feels good to get applauded for doing what you love.

image of Touchstones fall 2012 cover "Color" by Frankie Mercado
beautiful cover by Frankie Mercado; digital medium

back cover of journal; my name included in list of contributors
some wonderful publications this semester!

So, the sound and image matchup of this next media clip is off. Kinda drives me crazy. But the sound doesn't suck, so whatev; now you can listen as you read along! (*the hanging art in the background is not Japanese, though that would've made its presence cooler. It's Vietnamese for "patience," which is a key element for being a true peacemaker.)

Sometimes, when I exit the school, I see this plume of white smoke some distance to the north. Oftentimes it makes me ponder what it must have been like waking, breathing free on a still morning in August, year 1945.

I could have been born any time, any place, but as it happened, my grandpa, yet unmarried, was at war the morning Enola Gay awoke, breathing, pregnant with the death of hundreds of thousands of volunteers of the enemy. Drifting on divine wind, Gay dropped her Little Boy; a steel stork with nuclear delivery, a warrior child whose entire life would last 44.4 seconds in freefall.

I might have been placing a pot of rice on the flame, or pouring steaming water for father’s tea, and I know I would have felt a pausing measure of profound pleasure in the whispering morning air, cool like clammy palms, so I would have stepped out to the porch to listen. I wouldn’t so much hear the lightning geyser erupt in town, but every eyelid wipe would try for weeks to scrape the inverse x-ray pillar from my retinas.

Here from school, where I see the smoky finger poking at the sky, my guess is the town of Pleasant Grove would disappear, every cant slab of concrete an unmarked headstone. I used to live in PG. I want to say I remember what that plume is from. I can't.

I picture the people in the surgical clinic above which the Little Boy released his nuclear tantrum: the nurse bowing, lifting the page of a patient's chart; the patient turning his sick gaze toward the window, his breathing subtle like the leaves nodding sleepily at the summer morning sun—

then in the profound silence of full volume noise, an instantaneous slurping of every atom simultaneously resisted by a force that turns teeth to ash snatches their two bodies, etches them for an instant in the transparent monolith of time, the rupture of artificial sun searing each human statue, radiating skeletons framed in charcoal silhouettes—

and after leaving a melting tear in the earth, their stunned souls rise on a smoldering halo of smoke.
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