|"Fallout" by Mantz Yorke - Winner - Wax Poetry and Art
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Winner: Socially Engaged Poetry Contest #3
by Mantz Yorke
by Mantz Yorke
Spectacular, the thundercloud drifting out to sea,
a tiara of crepuscular rays on its softly-anvilled top.
Back then, we didn’t appreciate the insidiousness of rain
dripping into the earth the fallout from atomic tests –
strontium-90, a ready substitute for calcium in bones,
and caesium-137, as absorbable as salt.
Their buckshot of beta-particles, unfelt, damaged
flesh and bone beyond repair: a necessary price
(not paid by governments) for protecting all of us
from nuclear war. We’ve long known the risks
of atmospheric bursts, and nations’ self-denial still holds –
but all is not well. Windscale, Three Mile Island,
Chernobyl, and Fukushima have reminded us
treaties alone won’t shield us from unstable atoms’ power:
we rightly fear the legacy of the choices made for us –
the blanching of our blood, our flesh consumed by crabs.
Mantz Yorke lives in Manchester, England. He is an award-winning poet
whose work has appeared in a number of print magazines, anthologies
and e-magazines in the UK, Ireland, Israel, Canada, the US, Australia, and
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