Mar 142012

by Lowell Jaeger


Ask that man to pass the potatoes,

Mom said, elbowing me to get it done.

Dad, I’d say, please pass the potatoes.

My parents had stepped back from the brink

of a melt-down, closed their embassies

and retreated to their own sovereign soils.


I shared a border with both quarreling

nations, and the wall between them

ran right through me. Pass the salt,

Dad said. Mom stiffened and pretended

not to hear. So I passed the salt.

I passed the gravy. I sent my couriers


on their bicycles, pedaling as fast as they could.

I dug a bomb shelter in my head

and hunkered there, my transistor radio

pressed to my ear. So much static, so little

reliable news. Nikita and Ike slammed

doors. There was a button somewhere.


One wrong move and the planet could blow.