What Rough Beast | Poem for May 4, 2017

Nate Maxson
Trinity, April 1st

Visiting the Trinity Site on April Fools’ Day
There’s a carnival atmosphere
Hot dogs and mushroom cloud t-shirts on sale at kiosks
Tourists with cameras pose in front of a Fat Man bomb casing on a truck bed

The black monument built in 1965,
An igneous obelisk on ground zero
When I touch it
It’s like a splinter between possible earths

I remember one summer
My brother and I lit fireworks and one fell on its side and went off in the fields
A ring of fire in the yellow pasture grass and then: out
A brief and frightening illumination
Our dark miracle
Was this what the scientists felt?
This relief that they had not set the sky on fire forever?

To each hinge in time, I believe that beneath
Like a reflection on a body of fresh water
The opposite occurred

The black pillar of Trinity
Sits between our once and future burning
And an ever red heap of endless and broken machinery
A puncture wound in the womb of this desert
Junkyard bubbling subconscious below
Christ nailed to a rose
Or a B-52 bomber over Albuquerque
In 1965, the year of the obelisk
Whose copilot accidentally opened the bomb hatch doors
And then had to hold onto the rocket barehanded to keep it from falling out

This is an apocryphal story
The red world
I feel its tremor like a wolf running through smoke
And changing into a bird
And back again
The burning bush
When it decides to sing
Like a concentration of wind
In a childlike falsetto
I want to carve its words onto an iron gate
Set it Dante-like in the atmosphere
Oh red world
Root of aftershocks

Everything after this is just


Nate Maxson is the author of Vaudeville Jihad (Slow Fever publications, 2011), I Wished For A Serpent (Mercury HeartLink, 2012), and The Age Of Jive (CreateSpace, 2014). His poems have appeared in Eunoia, Toe Good, Empty Mirror, and Cultural Weekly, among others. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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