News, Fire Balloons (1944), In the Making
As usual, the clouds let go
repeatedly over the skyline.
At five, a little sun, some red
or gold blinds the city, the electric
current of commerce ebbing.
Gold goes the city as a man falls
out of his cubicle and drops into the red
of pleasure...the stars distract and amuse.
The city on TV doesn't end
at night. No one says blood
is gold, or gold is God, or God is
in our blood. Our eyes are mined.
Something like war reminds us of war.
FIRE BALLOONS (1944)
From Japan. Also called "sky lanterns."
Capable of globe floating while bomb-loaded,
unmanned. Created to cross the Atlantic
then set alight the gas attendant, the mother
of four with fear
for burning trees and children.
In sumo halls hundreds of Japanese school girls
spread washi (mulberry paper) for gluing
in squares the size of road maps. They had
no knowledge of the purpose
of their work. Starving, they stole the konnyaku
(devil's tongue) paste to eat.
When loaded and launched, most floated
with sun-warmed hydrogen out to sea
and failed, casting ballast too fast
while at the Los Alamos lab, scientists ran
to see a suspicious daylight orb—
Venus (a false alarm). Back inside, they hovered
with immense hope above their bodies
piecing together lead-scratched equations like intricate
maps to prove atomic reactions would not—
as one maker feared—
ignite the troposphere.
IN THE MAKING
A kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being.
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Suddenly cold, the lake
stippled by rain that freezes our road a broken mirror—
the fields sweat-filled (disparate temperatures,
a mist swallowing, shifting).
On the other side of a fogged window, I note patterns
of dispersal, weeds going off in the wind,
and Grandfather's Los Alamos canyons
come to mind (his experiments, his
mind fused, unfocused
now). What are the networks,
the mighty dendrites,
trying to say?
What secrets, what
cased implosions, Grandfather,
what fission—was it all
nature's design? Now your brain—
what are we making?—
whispers bombs. The wind talks
a tin can flat. And after, did
you thirst, as we do,
for an undone God, the mind
like so many crows—burnt kindling—
The networks report that today, many
(again, in our names)
were dispersed, blown apart.
At twilight, the aspen here burn
without burning, like lights left on accidentally
in the grove.
Without effort, the laws of physics erase
the words for moon sunk to its last horn-tip,
erase another hundred faces.
For us, there isn't a day
the naming is enough: Alzheimer's, nuclear
arsenals. (Your truth fused, classified, secretly
Somewhere nearby, a neighbor drops
a box of tools. This morning, long ago,
my husband and I made love.
Art, like God (bomb, sarcophagus),
is just something beautiful
to die inside.
Now, there go the geese—a fleet of facts,
of tiny hearts—
pencil marks on their way.