Alamogordo

Well, the hurricane’s not here yet, but everything in New York is pretty quiet. I’m at the one café nearby that’s still open; the subways shut down at 7, so pretty much everyone went home. But not me and my almond hot chocolate! (Practically, though, I already took care of all my prep stuff: laundry’s done, cooking’s done, water is stocked, batteries are stocked, hatches are battened, work is canceled tomorrow, etc. It will just be me, my roommate, the Fellow, the cat, a stack of books, a stack of candles, and the howling wind/rain. Whenever it arrives.)

A bit late, but at dVerse, Samuel Peralta was asking for villanelles. He also mentioned his background in physics, so I thought about doing a physics villanelle. And somewhat depressingly, the first thing that popped into my head was the Trinity bomb test, and the start of the nuclear era. (The first line is what did it.) So, here is a (slightly modified) villanelle for the topic. Maybe I’ll write a happier one tomorrow, when I have some time to kill.

But before I do that, I have a list of journals to put together submissions for and send in, before I potentially lose Internet or something. And so much other random crap. I left all the computer business until the end, and now it looks like a long screened evening…

Alamogordo
(for J. Robert Oppenheimer and Kenneth Bainbridge)

The world, they say, is mostly empty space,
revealed with careful strings of rough collision.
A neutron needles through and leaves no trace.

A diamond’s latticed through with holes, like lace,
while steel seems whole to our imperfect vision.
The world, you see, is mostly empty space.

We can’t abide the lie of the embrace,
deny what’s solid with the whips of fission.
Our fury is too pained to leave no trace.

Some hidden deity wears upon his face
a pitied stare, and fear mixed with derision.
We’ve learned he built with mostly empty space.

Each secret in the veins of “thing” and “place”
is meant to open, burst with grim precision.
How could we crack the world and leave no trace?

We only trust the things we can erase;
what’s underneath is open to suspicion.
We’ve learned the world is mostly empty space,
and scream infinity. We leave no trace.

7 thoughts on “Alamogordo

  1. Be safe. Thinking of you New Yorkers this evening.

  2. vivinfrance says:

    Brilliant villanelle, if doom-laden – inevitably, given the preparations you have been making. Sandy seems to have slowed down according to TSR, so here’s hoping he fizzles out..

  3. margo roby says:

    Cash, do you two have cash? I am watching the weather channel and thinking pretty constantly of all of you. Hold tight.

  4. margo roby says:

    I do love a villanelle that works as it should.

  5. PJF Sayers says:

    Beautiful villanelle, Joseph. Stay safe and dry.

    Pamela

  6. barbara_ says:

    Let us know you’re still kicking.

  7. Joseph, working backwards in your blog. The Trinity test is also famous because it was at Alamogordo that Oppenheimer declared, “I am become death.” Also ironic that “gordo” means fat and the Alamo was a disaster for all concerned. (One Mexican friend jokes that, if the Alamo had had a back door, there would have been no heroes.) Love and light to you, Amy

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