Alexander Long

Ode to Bombs

I’m thinking that whistling far off in the distance there
Is something to hum along with. It’s history’s little anthem,
And we hum its one note as long as we can breathe
It through, don’t we… And when the whistling stops,
There’s no city of fire, no blackened glass, no girders
Curved around and through the village’s last and useless horse.
There’s only a story, the truest one, that no one tells, or can.
So, go on, drop the landscape into tidily shattered lines that drop themselves,
Then, look up at clouds that neither gather nor hover,
But simply are, are scattering from smoke, are almost celebrating themselves,
Their invisible, inevitable dissolution,
As the planes go on bestriding each other,
And the glass, the girders, the horse, the village let go
Of themselves, and why not? I’m thinking… I’m thinking
Ecstasy, a loss of breath, a hovering, some alley

In a corner of Baghdad where two teenagers

Feel each other up, and the whistles multiply and amplify, why not,
As a little fire spreads from home to home, and why
Not have the boy strike a match, which makes the girl giggle,
To light his cigarette, for this is the custom of adults….
I’m thinking he calls her Oh Donna and Runaround Sue, and he drags
And hums and breathes the smoke into her, where every thought
Is permissible and rebellious, and hums along, inaudibly,
Goodbye goodbye goodbye…

“Ode to Bombs” first appeared in Askew, 1, Spring 2006.