“Letter to a Young Bombmaker” by Michael Shea

Michael Shea


“‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of
worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one
way or another.”
—J. Robert Oppenheimer, creator of
the Atomic Bomb, on the Trinity Test

If God is a penny, drop him down the well.
Then you can start in on any my dear mister
and unbuckle Orion’s belt till the fallout
litters the fields and the dessert
trays, the china teacups and the china—
men don’t need no whispers of wicks
to make fire lick the stalks and shafts
of unborn bread. Say, Consider the moon
and I might, but I’d rather face the sand dunes
and a pillar to push you off. Gimme the sun
whirring like a pushmower. Gimme the cuticle
of convenience and I’ll show you God’s thumb.
Bottlenecked boys can’t swear till they’re sweaty
and looking for a sin to atone for—and everyone
needs a reason to be locked up. If you come
to the desert tonight, I’ll show you a secret. Why not?
No reason for a peach, even, except to eat it.

from Rattle #35, Summer 2011
Tribute to Canadian Poets

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