“Nukemap.com” by Megan Fernandes

Megan Fernandes


It is 2:37 a.m. and I make myself eat an apple while on the laptop, Alec Baldwin
is hosting MatchGame, an experiment in the ageless art of game show hosting
like orange light diving back into the ’70s. In an open tab,
I am dropping nukes on New York City to watch the airburst
swell into a new species of hydrogen fruit. I do this over and over
until each bomb becomes a son that you detonate virtually into the night:
Davy Crockett and Little Boy, Fat Man and Ivy Mike, Gadget, Castle Bravo and Tsar Bomba,
all of the bombs are named for boys with fathers from Pakistan and Russia,
sly America or the green seawaters of a Korean dream. Some of the really bad nukes
only have numbers and are unnameable like B-83
because you can’t name something that can kill 1.8 million people
even if you are its mother.

You detonate the bomb and listen to “Gravity Rides Everything.”
You detonate the bomb and still think the ’90s will save you.
You tell your roommate that if the bomb goes off above 39th, you might both survive.
New York City is the default target on nukemap.com. This is so unquestioned that you clutch
your O’Hara and write David Trinidad in Chicago a handwritten letter to tell him
about nuke anxiety. He doesn’t even know you well, but he was nice once in the lobby
of the Marlton on 8th street when you recited Creeley and talked for three hours
and lately you only want to be around people over sixty.
You still expect them to save you. You still believe in elders.
You can get the second season of MatchGame on abc.com for free. You can watch
all your favorite comedians from 1992 come to life, resurrected like clay prophets, saying
that you can live in the television where nothing will incinerate you.
You are back in Seinfeld’s apartment and all that matters is that Jerry doesn’t want to date
someone with man hands. All our futures are like time beating backwards into sitcoms
with the laugh tracks of the dead and the apple in your mouth is now an organism
you slew in your throat and each of your sons—Davey and Mike
and Bravo and Fat Man—are standing on top of a heap of nuclear soil
that was once a very specific girl, let’s call her Ana,
and they are asking you to forgive them
like any mother would.

from Poets Respond


Megan Fernandes: “The poem is responding to the growing nuclear anxiety in the world via a somewhat obsessive and panicked use of a website nicknamed nukemap.com, which allows you to assess the world’s arsenal of nuclear weapons, fallout, and casualties from potential warfare.” (website)

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