Frank and Jackie Oppenheimer Escape to the Exploratorium
The planets grow around us
they swell into something sinister
bloated, blue, and bulbous
they careen in a vacuum- or maybe
there is an air around to pin them in place
a sinew of swung matches, a shut door
the tiny scream that is sucked between
your startled teeth.
The stilted shape that shadows my side
is too much, too full of swooping
radio signals and
shuddered shrieks of birds without beaks
to be you. It sits
like a crowded vessel with
an upside-down sail
it teeters on the edge of something
it thinks is keeping it safe.
It is funny that we keep building these things
little domes of spinning lenses, wayward planks,
sprawling maps that we would drag our fingers
across if they weren’t too sticky to touch
fly-paper singeing our fingertips
we have snuck here
to suck each others’ souls out through
the tunnels of our mouths
to rub our palms through
the funnel of balled-up fists and forgotten radar lists
that spirals through our brains when
we find a dark enough room- exoplanets wink down
at us but our eyes spin in their sockets from squinting
they grow into swirling spectroscopes and we can’t keep
them safe from the fumes that circle above.
This spectrum is stained with too much sky.
When will we learn that
the skies were not made for us to touch?
Frank Oppenheimer Reels in Russian Red on the Ranch
Thick little bundles of black-
Lists that lie still and safe
like slumbering padlocks in the field,
heavy blots blink across the ranch
motes of ash in my eyebeds
grow into a spattering of smog
a billow of black
the grass hides from the
ream of red that rushes beneath,
in the veins of the place
it scares the deep dirt out of its mind,
out of its skin. It does not want to know.
The House Un-American Activities Committee
draws breath before me
and somewhere their shirttails
rattle and moan beneath the heft
of their Hearings. Of their hearing.
The warning whispered into
the ground, patted down with
a rolled up newspaper and
the cakey blood clot clay
the quiet now, the watch your mouth
little secrets scatter and shake
atomos, pretty isotopes
warm pecks on my cheek
tiny hearts that squirm
from the soil, from the buried
remains of something once rosy,
of something that we shared.