During the Cuban Missile Crisis
a girl ran home at recess in tears.
Adults were talking to children
about the very real possibility
of everyone being burned alive.
We took this all in our stride.
because we’d seen the great Kaiju
monster movies at the Capitol.
We knew just what would happen,
the way crowds would flee
looking over their shoulders,
as they ran toward the camera
the way the wind from Mothra’s wings
would knock down bridges and buildings
the way Godzilla advanced unstoppable
through the smoke of burning cities
(himself the result of a nuclear disaster)
and the way the whole world was fragile,
crafted so meticulously and delicately
of rice paper, string and cardboard.
We guessed the Japanese probably
knew what they were talking about.
They put a map in the entrance hall called Danger Zones.
Everyday a teacher would update it with new names
of places in the world where there was a lot of trouble:
Belgian Congo, Cuba, Berlin, Algeria, Kenya, Cuba, Berlin.
New names were added to our vocabulary, each
carrying it heavy freight of dark meaning:
Lumumba, Eichmann, Castro, Kennedy, Khrushchev-
we added them to our mythologies the same way
we added new names to our cast of characters
from movies like 7th Voyage of Sinbad-
Cyclops, Medusa and Skeleton Warrior
in live animation that was so nearly lifelike.
Dew Line Duty was the first novel
I can remember reading right through
(I was a slow reader and rarely finished
and even got bogged down in the Jungle Book.)
The hero, Dale of the Mounted,
was sent to investigate Russian spies
who were infiltrating the DEW Line
the Distant Early Warning Line,
a system of radar stations up North
to detect incoming Soviet bombers
The spies were hiding amongst
a boatload of refugees from Hungary
which even then seemed a little unlikely.
Dale was no mastermind, that was clear,
and certainly not somebody
you were supposed to be afraid of-
just a guy doing his job, all by himself.