7.01 / January 2012

Distant Early Warnings

distant early warning (abbr.: DEW) noun
a radar system in North America
for the early detection of a missile attack

1. Upon Reading Another Report About Setbacks Nearly Three Weeks After the March 11th Tsunami Engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

For this day, there is a cloud-cast
thick as the clotted vapors
spinning out more lies.

Where the moon has lessened
to splice the reddening forest
with any slivers of sight.

Crows flee the boughs
above each tower while the sea
surges into the troughs.

By the char-stumps in a field
once was a tang of promise-
now women cry and men work the rust.

Last, the earth will pool from seep,
all bite of isotope spilling
suns soon grown to taint dear life.

While near a cooling pond,
one man in a mask breathes that air,
knows his lungs can’t fission.

2. The Exile Tries to Understand Her Place in the World Yet Again

Notable for its anthracite coal, Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley
is part of the ridge-and-valley, folded Appalachians.
Deep mining ended after the Susquehanna River permanently flooded
the tunnels in the 1959 Knox Mine Disaster.

Overnight, I was a priestess
spent by another threat,
propping up my lies.

Since, my day has wakened
to rubberneck this window
counterfeit with pain.

Hope drains from sight,
resists a shift to rest-
ruin excavates most cruel.

Beneath the houses of my village,
long forms the dew of poison
as hillsides slip, another sinkhole caves.

Slow to end that world, my birthright
the creak of drifting, slopes,
ramshackle wrecks that land as fill.

Here in my robe, I pine crestfallen
exile, woebegone-nothing wrong at all.
I hold my breath. And wait.

3. Peak Oil Comes Hither

The cherry still buds, blossoms fall
as the rarest rain pelts
every petal to an asphalted tattoo.

Before, more clay got carted,
clods to spackle the holes, mudded
sutures, compost trumping blight.

This is now life foreseeable-
no more center-pivot irrigation
a chorus line kicking up seed.

Long gone, the vast of valley,
anhydrous ammonia in silos,
reassuring fields of bean and beet.

Along the alley’s fence, we coax
rising vegetable rootstock,
leaves our mulch, our armaments.

The sky is leap and dry.
No rest from our buckets hauling
the sacred drips we capture, store.

While crows claim their turf,
wires this day of tree-branching
symphony led by the wind.

Variations in the key of caw,
their cries are companion
to words that pucker a tongue.

Raucous, ruckus, reckless,
they dive-bomb the midden,
the already cherry-picked trash.

Nancy Flynn hails from the coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania where, at an early age, she fell in love with words instead of into a sinkhole or the then-polluted Susquehanna River. She attended Oberlin College, Cornell University, and has a graduate degree from SUNY/Binghamton. Her writing’s received a James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Oregon Literary Fellowship; her latest chapbook is Eternity a Coal’s Throw (2012). A former university administrator, she now writes creatively and edits carefully from her sea-green (according to Crayola) house in Portland, Oregon. In 2004, she happily reclaimed www.nancyflynn.com from the realtor who had it first.
7.01 / January 2012