Nuclear Winter Coming

In the post office long queues form
as people mail pets and children
beyond the reach of nuclear war.
Large boxes giggle and bark.
Small boxes meow with rage.
Fingers and paws thrust from airholes
wriggle to catch my attention.

Why purchase so much postage
when not even the coldest spots
at the head and foot of the planet
lie out of missile range? Besides,
nuclear winter will unravel
the double helix wherever
the toxic atmosphere prevails.

I guess I won’t get my mail
today. Let the bills and flyers
go adrift in the deadly sublime.
What do I care if debts go unpaid
when Earth crumples like a beer can
smashed against the forehead of God?

The town park sighs as its trees
unleaf themselves in yellow slush.
I choose a bench and pose a while.
Garden club women dismantle
flower boxes for another year,
despite discord that could blast them
into depths no flowers decorate.

From the safety of my bench I spot
a skyfull of missiles descending.
One by one they pop like pimples.
Their nuclear warheads are duds
that splash into our local river
and frighten the indolent fish.

I knew it would end like this:
A muddle of political slurs,
a technological failure, parcels
mailed all over the world,
gray footfall crushing leaves
With a familiar rhythmic stride.

William Doreski

About the poet: William Doreski, Professor of English, Keene State College (New Hampshire), teaches creative writing, literary theory, and modern poetry. He has published several collections of poetry, and a textbook entitled How to Read and Interpret Poetry (Prentis-Hall). His critical essays, poetry, and reviews have appeared in many academic and literary journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge. Most recently his work has appeared in A Black River, A Dark Fall (Splash of Red, 2018).