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A Priori


‘In spite of the fact that science could produce enormous horror in the world, it is of value because it can produce something.’
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out Richard Feynman


‘Make the bomb work’
was spoken like we were
jump-starting God.
Rattled away on empty trains
and buried into the desert's husk
like ticks amongst rock and dust.
Gathered together to whittle
a fist-full of stuff
into something more simple.

I picked locks for fun,
scratched around
and danced in moon-lit sand;
I tuned human computers that bustled
with the grey smell of plastic and chalk.

An idea lurched from the desert
fresh-faced and eager-mouthed.
We knocked a man over from two miles away.
We burned the sand into glass with our new fire.

A necessary conception unspooled
across the desert like a detonation wire.
A key that opened two locks:
one to heaven, and one to hell.
A moment that caught in the throat
when discovery became invasion.

When we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima,
we danced in Los Alamos.
Here, squat blocks grown under thrusting pylons,
ceaseless construction rattles through Central Park's twisted leaves.
The heaving building rises
from grey mud and, like a Nephilim,
its complacent figure towers over the city.

I conjure the hot dry memory,
it ignites above 35th street.
I watch the little star expand
across the sky, pushing down,
evaporating heavy buildings.
My coffee cup, raised to my lips as
the shockwave arrives at the park
and pulls everything away.
After the blast,
no wind, and no blood; only
that electrical smell of iron and teeth.

The Nephilim continues its rattle.
And coffee remains streaming.
Behind me, a clash of clumsy crockery:
a single white plate scuttles past my legs.
Its escape slows to a gentle spin,
the edge wobbling on the pavement.

Imagine a point on the plate's edge
tracing a single curving line,
drawn around itself.
Imagine billions of them,
rushing into my mouth and lungs;
immaculate points dissolving against eager optic nerves.
This is worth it.


John Darley