Stolen from a Voice: Drowned or Burned or Bleached
from Einstein’s “Atomic War or Peace?”
It may be that the public is not fully aware 
            that in another war, language 
will be available. In another war, battery acid  
and plastic lids will be  
available in large quantities.  
It may measure the danger 
            of the three speeches exploded 
before the end of the last war, of the three 
advertisements, of the three mornings  
a girl woke up without a face.  
The public also may not appreciate 
            that in relation to the damage  
inflicted a word already has become the most 
economical form of destruction. 
Accident already has. Milk diluted gray— 
a coating coming off in your mouth. 
            In another war, poisons will be plentiful.  
Press will be comparatively cheap. Coins 
nearly pulled from circulation will be plentiful,  
and candy, and T-shirts in blue and pink.   
Unless there is determination  
            not to use roof shingles, 
not to use bored doodles boxed on a form,  
not to use the unlit depths of the sea,  
song war will be hard to avoid. 
Unless I recognize that I am 
            not stronger in the world because I 
have a lens to zoom you in 
to a polished white floor, to brass gates,  
and a sea-foam fountain with an electric pump 
skimming the sinking coins  
            as though a hand were breaking the surface  
for a cupped sip, but weaker because of my vulnerability 
to the glue-scent of dye  
in a folded pair of jeans,  
                                    to a pixelated face, 
to a knife splitting a Hefty bag,  
            I am not likely to conduct myself 
here or in my relations with you  
in a spirit—of trilobite pressed in gneiss   
and thumbed into presence— 
that furthers my understanding. Mine. 
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