Plutonium Valley

by Ken Hunt

              — for Craig Dworkin

Alkali accrues in lands where rain refuses
to fall, where wayward pools of brine

evaporate, splitting planes of hardened
clay with radial cracks. Brittle crystals beard

the hardpan rims of ancient lakebeds,
legions of salt writing into the earth

with sharp but fragile letters. Colonies
of dormant halophiles huddle in the long

drained tributaries of Styx, alien archaea
thriving on thin films of saline. Water

leaves behind the minerals it cannot carry
to the clouds. Golems disguise their clastic

bodies in the natural rubble of barren hills,
glare at military personnel from the mirrors

of their dreams, sand looking through sand.
The troops build façades in this wasteland,

each set of phantom dwellings an offering
crafted for each bulb of flame. Tall flowers

of fluorescent smog seize the helmeted
masses, poorly braced for awe. Those

standing drop to their knees, mach fronts
shuddering the ground. Branches of thunder

spread, leaving lines of Joshua trees
aflame, like the fodder of a Pagan rite.

Observers in Vegas attend bomb parties
at dawn on hotel rooftops, breakfasting

in the distant glow of hydrogen fusion. Crystal
glasses sing with the resonance of every blast.

Ken Hunt

Contributing Author

Other works on The Blasted Tree:


Plutonium Valley by Ken Hunt is a Blasted Tree original poem.

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