Jim Daniels' next books of poems, Rowing Inland, Wayne State University Press, and Street Calligraphy, Steel Toe Books, will both be published in 2017. He is the Thomas Stockham University Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.
Test Bomb Fallout
We dropped a hand-stuffed dummy strung over the streetlight
onto passing cars. We, too young to drive ourselves.
A matter of timing, knowing when to let go.
Life was a prank no one had pulled on us yet.
Every month, a moon pulled out of night's starry hat.
We tossed the winking dummy over the streetlight
like mad puppeteers, hoarse ventriloquists of the night.
The pulse of hangmen strummed through the heavy rope released
by three boys, giddy with the matter of timing, eager to let go.
Cars braked, to our delight. We ran or stayed, depending
on who emerged, what shade the relieved blossom of rage.
We dropped a homemade bomb off the streetlight
until the police whirled red and cuffed the dummy. Whose clothes
did it wear, whose cap, whose grin? God’s grainy photo
in dim night's newspaper. We had no paper trail. How to let go?
When our first friend fell to earth, did not land, drilled right through,
we hung our heads like failed firemen among ashes. The silence
of a body strung over a streetlight, swaying — abandoned dummy
who thought it did not matter if time stopped, if he let go.
I have this very clear memory of doing just this — we made a dummy, tied a rope to it, slung it over the streetlight, then dropped it onto unsuspecting cars, thinking it was great fun. No one we loved had died yet, and so we had no idea of the deep profound terror of that irreversible loss.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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