About the Writer
A writer and artist, Kristy Bowen is the author of several written and visual projects, including major characters in minor films (Sundress, 2015) girl show (Black Lawrence Press, 2014) and the shared properties of water and stars (Noctuary Press, 2013). She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio.
DUCK & COVER
At night, the fission loves us, lathers us over,
makes our teeth glow like low watt lanterns in the dark of our beds.
This town is all carhops and canapés these days, the women
narrow waisted and waspish. Oh nostalgia, we love it.
Write letters to it in the green light of television sets.
Meanwhile, the men set fire to the jukebox, the junior college,
the dead pigeons in the gutters of tract homes.
Oh hope, oh love, we’re filled with sugar and seething
into our silk pantyhose. Our bodies as pristine as our
mother’s whites, flapping on clotheslines across the low hills.
In an emergency, above all else, keep calm.
In an emergency, keep your tongue glued fast to the roof
of your mouth to avoid screaming.
In an emergency––
When his says father says boo, plutonium baby cries all night.
The milk gone bad, leaking and souring in the folds of his mother’s
nightgown. 3 am and the world glows with him, even now,
before the bombs, before the backyard barbecues and shiny
black sedans. Before the open mouth of his wanting grows
wider and wider and swallows everything not weighted down..
When he’s grown, he’ll take up with women named
Tina, or Charla, or Tiffany. Will tuck his shirts in and talk
about stock commodities. Everyone loves a plutonium baby,
all new and shiny as the chrome on a brand new bicycle.
As American as apple pie or insider trading.
He’ll twirl the scotch in his glass around and say things like
“Key West is a sauna this time of year..”
Those kind of manners could be lost or poisoned or dead
for all we know. His black shoes, shiny and sure of it.
MISS URANIUM 1954
It’s months before she can recite the alphabet backwards
again. Birth dates. The chemical equation for hydrogen peroxide.
All caught in the foggy nether than begins somewhere in the cerebellum.
On the patio, all the bodies in bikinis float in a thin soup of chemicals
and it’s all good, all gone, all going to hell in an alligator handbag, she thinks,
her fingernails flaking away like piecrust. These limbs loosening into ether.
In the hospital, the sheets were white and precise.
Her mind white and precise. She clenches her jaw and meditates
on milk cartons, lined up single file on the store shelf. The perfect slices
of bread dropping into the toaster. Scratches on her thighs and breasts
where the bees went in, and worse, where they demand to come out.