Size / / /

Not clean light, after all: not sweet atomic
absolution of our myriad sins
in one swift Lenten smear of ash, faint thumbprint
shadow on a shattered concrete sky.

The silence we were promised after sirens
above a blasted blameless graveyard world
is broken daily into shards of shrapnel
both trivial & lethal, ever-cresting
tide eroding eyes & ears & minds.

In place of Oppenheimer's Trinity,
the passionate intensity of vermin
beset by ancient plagues goes seeping out
along a web of unsuspected faults
until some tower tumbles, lightning-struck
past metaphor or merest understanding.

Surely whatever falconer we trusted
to gyre that final bird into a night
both mutual & assured is lost -- or missing
behind these lines redrawn to locate center
& formulate the new survivor's question:
not what rough beast, but which rough beast this time?


Copyright © 2001 Ann K. Schwader

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Ann K. Schwader lives and writes in Westminster, Colorado. Her poems have recently appeared in Weird Tales, Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Talebones, Speculon, Twilight Times, and elsewhere. Her Lovecraftian poetry collection, The Worms Remember, was published by Hive Press this spring. She is an active member of both SFWA and HWA. Her previous poem in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive.

Ann K. Schwader lives, writes, and volunteers at her local branch library in Westminster, CO. Her most recent poetry collection is Twisted in Dream (Hippocampus Press 2011). Her dark SF poetry collection Wild Hunt of the Stars (Sam's Dot Publishing, 2010) was a Bram Stoker Award nominee. She is a member of SFWA, HWA, and SFPA. Her LiveJournal is Yaddith Times.
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