Volume 26, Number 3

Incoming Nukes

“Sometimes, evil wins.”
—Curt Benjamin, from The Prince of Dreams

You call me Dr. Strangelove because the world
could end, and I scare you. I am owl-eyed (see all)
and am as deadly as a pre-emptive strike. Maybe
that's why you named me after that old movie.
In this "War Room," my dark alley, I keep you informed
about the likely—no, sure-to-be—days of incoming
nukes. Year after year, nothing has changed. But
you think I am crazy. I pontificate where no apricots
blossom, birds never land, and I'm only blocks from
where you pay rent (mortgages if you are lucky).
I'm your ready lifeguard, shouting words that unnerve
you: logistics, strikes, infra-red, ballistic. My "safe-
house" is called Atlas D in a dozen code books.
Of course, there's no official address. I'm stressed,
can't help but drink Wild Irish Rose every day while
responding to metric-radio or radar optical beeps.
Yesterday, when you passed, I was punching cryptic
codes in the air like a woodpecker. Tick-tock-ing.
I was sending alerts, creating a laser shield, just in
case. Our silos in Wyoming, at Warren AFB, even
the retired USS Nautilus, lit up. I told you I was
going to save America, or die trying. No, you didn't
step closer, but turned your head, which wasn't
very wise. Maybe you thought I might kill you with
a pencil or stranglehold. Well, tonight you'll have
night sweats, somehow scream my name, rank,
serial number. When you fall asleep, I'm betting
you'll lie spastic between your wife's thighs.
The children will see how your toes are tagged.
If this isn't your worst nightmare, what is?
Once again, you'll wake as if you were counting
sheep, daisies, or pastel-colored fences in the pasture.
You won't say that I was leaning over you with a King
of Spades stare, how history always repeats itself,
that doomsday was going full-throttle outside.

—Isaac Black