How Many Minutes?

When I was in high school
There was the threat of nuclear war

The Soviet Union was our enemy, and they invaded Afghanistan, so I designed a bumper sticker that said
“Hey Russia, Leave Earth for the Humans!”

There were programs on TV about the damage incurred by nuclear blasts
There was Dr. Carl Sagan talking about nuclear winter
There was Red Dawn, and The Day After, and the memories passed down from Mom and Dad, of “duck and cover”

And There were days when I was alone in the house
Or walking home from school by myself
And the roar of a bomb in the distance would scare me for a moment
Until I realized it was the low, droning and inner-ear metallic monotone buzz of a jet-plane…
coming from JFK, that just didn’t sound like a plane, that day

But until I realized it was a plane, and not an ICBM sent over the north pole meant to incinerate us,
I would wonder how many minutes we had, ‘since Manhattan had been vaporized’
How many minutes before I would feel the heat, and the blast wave would be knocking me unconscious, sending my charred body aloft, just before I would became steam

© January 31, 2011 

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