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Monthly Archives: November 2016

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.