Michael Borth ~ The Tsar Bomba

It was not snow but pure ash
in the after­white of the sun­y­olk of the Tsar Bomba.
The peo­ple were gone, fast and deleted.
I walked in the supreme quiet.
The screams were inhaled by the amanhecer.
The trou­bles were sim­pli­fied in the total blizzard.
I did see, by the foun­tain, two stat­ues of powder,
arms upraised, mouths agape, eyes bro­ken shields.
I did see, in the neg­a­tive sky, one car aloft,
bro­ken into pix­els, black flame, nothing.
A thought could stir the radioac­tive down.
It was then I saw the sand­hill crane,
los­ing dust as it flew the dust, as it fought
the morn­ing of tense grav­i­ties and ovoid storm.
The beat of wings like foot­steps in pul­ver­ized chalk.
Its red eyes were imag­is­tic echoes of the world eater.
In its claws was the orphic egg, the black serpent
a nascent lad­der round the pale­blue shell.
I walked beneath the halved arch.
I passed the blank hydrant, the child sarcophagus.
It was then I saw the lamas­su in the flak­ing street.
It stayed like a deer. It watched me. It made no track.
It was mute and obser­vant in this gar­gan­tu­an tomb.
The iris was black and in the wings an iri­des­cent effect.
No cloud from its mouth, the hoofs wet, oiled.
It began to pulse and shud­der and the eyes flared.
In the brief night of a blink it found exit.
I was alone again in the magnificence.
I saw but would not touch a grapefruit,
blind­ing in the soft absence, a solar extract.
This was a razor in the intestines and I passed it,
I refused to look back at it.
As I walked the drifts of a long arcade I saw the burn­ing ones.
They were made of a sep­a­rate matter.
Their wings were sol­id liq­uid­i­ty and mesmeric.
Their song was a song remembered.
It was a con­cen­trat­ed lan­guage frequency
and a red thread through the spher­ic zone of my life.
They were the most real in my accu­mu­la­tion of real.
The one hand was some­where at hand.
The wheel of eyes was com­ing and it had arrived
and it had seen all and none and it had left.
The burn­ing ones broke the bounds of movement,
they were in con­stant motion but did not blur,
appear­ing, flick­er­ing, behind my eyes, before them.
They rotat­ed with bizarre circumference.
Their wings were the last ves­tige of the fire color.
Their eyes were mir­rors and num­bers and white diagram.
The holy song inten­si­fied until it van­ished them.
I real­ized I was not cold and let go.
In this des­ti­tute womb and in this realm of gossamer
I was begin­ning to mas­ter my pace and
to warm in the glow with­out heat.
I was begin­ning to be blind and to see
that I was the new and fatal king,
the ter­mi­nal and fad­ing regent,
hov­er­ing between the walls of life and death
in the boun­teous turn­ing of the clock of law,
in the white shad­ow of the immi­nent throne.


Michael Borth is a writer and musi­cian from the Hudson Valley. His work has been pub­lished in Carrier Pigeon, The Write Launch, and Expat Press, and is forth­com­ing in Fence.