Wendy Carlisle

A Is For Atom

Let us, without panic, face the reality of
our times.
    Eddie Murrow, how we need you now. 
Surely as much as we did when we
under our desks, A-plus students of the siren  

following the rules.  We ducked,
we willing children, we never looked up
at t
he walls above us where those
masters of the tough decision, the paper pilgrims,  

marched.  Heads bent, we studied our knees
from our vantage place in the radiant
universe of Bert the Turtle.  When we could
rise again and uncover, we tiptoed away  

from the fall school chill, monitoring our fear
in visible breath.  Stay where you are
when the bombing starts!
was the Civil Defense
alert we soaked up through our skin.   

General Electric said A is for Atom. 
We believed it.  We knew what
good energy was and about bomb shelters
stocked with water and canned goods,  

that guarded a family’s mouthful of air.  We knew
how to hunker through the months until summer vacation.  
O Ed, what we wanted was not radioactive—
the waves, the wind, a mushroom cloud of wings,  

a direction away from the fall.  Our desire then
was you. You with your cigarette, you in your dark suit,
you with your hair swept back, each evening, you
intoning Good night. Good luck                     Good luck.





Crusade Ambition
(Terry Wright)