By Sarah Leidhold

Boots crunch when you walk,
it doesn’t mean it’s baby bones,
he told himself three steps
into the heart of Hiroshima-
after it happened.

So quiet, all you could
hear was the cacophony
of coughs- choking on the
ashen atoms- all that’s left
of the natives.

Twenty years later,
the X-ray’s Lite-Brite
pixels glow a sickly green
at the masses in his lungs.

The lizards living in the thick
alveoli trees breathed
the pureed people in too-
and one of them grew
into Godzilla- the mutation
inside grandpa
that was always making him
cough so hard
I thought he might
be a dragon with fireworks
ready to shoot out
from his throat.

He never talked about
the war. But he did
beat his chest hard
when he sang along
to the patriotic songs,
telling the monsters
to go back to sleep
in the red-striped volcanoes
he was harvesting inside.
Unlike theirs,
his casket was open,
and I pinned on cufflinks
with my glittering tears
when I kissed his cold
-blooded hand.

To the A-bomb,
they were all mutants.
Godzillas needing to
be shot down dead.

The epitaph
on the aftermath
“Homo homini lupus est”’
Anger hangs heavy
like a moon filled to full
in so many star-dead eyes.

For now, man is wolf to man.
And the straw houses
of our empathy are so easily
blown down to flatline.
Bricks are an endangered species.

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