Andrew Kozma's poems have appeared in Blackbird, Subtropics, Redactions, and Best American Poetry 2015. His book of poems, City of Regret (Zone 3 Press, 2007), won the Zone 3 First Book Award.
It is necessary we were reduced to this.
Hope is an animal. Hope is anathema. Hope is unhinging
its jaw for ease of access to the heart.
The armless, legless wonder of the world. Punch through the wall
of the throat and free that burbling voice.
Blood is an answer to everything, from the blush to the flesh
rising in answer to the firing of your brain
as a botched job, a warped measure.
Take a breath. Take a breather.
Scientists once tried to set the world on fire.
Seize my hand. I lied. They but played a chance
the world would reduce to ash.
"Necessary" is one of a series of poems I wrote as transliterations of Machiavelli's The Prince. The original title was "Exhortation to Seize Italy and to Free Her from the Barbarians" although I'm not sure that's helpful in understanding the poem as it is, though it might help understanding where it came from: a need to explain destruction as progress, and hope as a devastating emotion that drives people forward into what they pray isn't ruin. That's what the ending crystallizes, focusing on the first atomic test and how scientists admitted there was a chance that the bomb would be so hot it would ignite the atmosphere, even as they hoped for some tangible benefit. And though they achieved that benefit (the end of World War II), their research also resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and decades of fearing a nuclear holocaust. Is it worth it? Was it necessary?
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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