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How to survive a nuclear winter
Beneath the welt of a nuclear moon,
we’ll meet in government shelters,
sing merry cockney songs in subways foggy with stench;
help will come in books of flames.
All the cars are gunmetal grey;
we harvest screen-wash for wounds.
At night, marauders make smog from bodies in acres of lye –
they wheel the meat to the ice rink.
We catch crows to feed them turnips; if they live, we eat them.
At night, we collect hair from Kylie’s comb;
it stops her child from bawling.
In meagre hours of daylight,
we smash mirrors to keep us pretty.
Kylie went mad there, took her own life
by shouting rebel poems to child lieutenants.
We do not go by days but by schedules, and they can kill you.
Last week we saw sun for the first time in weeks;
they shot six people roaming in wonderment.
The next time moon burns through ragged fallout,
I’ll loiter on the rubble of my house,
yelling war poems by Edith Sitwell,
waiting for haggard children –
the jurors of russet knives.
Antony Owen was raised in the industrial heartland of Coventry. His fifth collection of poetry by V.Press focuses on the atomic devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This work was inspired by testimonies of atomic bomb survivors and years of research on the effects of modern warfare on those caught up in it.
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