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The Nuclear Age

I learn to love 


radiation, how it 

makes me glow

& curls my hair 

without work

& helps convince

my neighbor to finally

become fully 

robotic. Admittedly,

much of the attractivity 

has to do with the free

metal teeth—

so shiny, so straight,

such conductivity— 

then there’s

the simplicity 

of going only

by Neighbor, 

just like people

called one another 

before everything


being great.

I congratulate 

Neighbor, murmur


about how nice

it will be without 

human pageantry.

Neighbor says 

it is freeing

to no longer worry 

about being

on one side

or the other when

the violence comes. 

The sky greens.

Hot wind, a blast 

of sulfur. We shake

hands. Neighbor 

looks me in the eye.

I see pity, but

not a hint of envy.

Nathaniel Cairney is an American poet and novelist who lives in Belgium. His chapbook “Singing Dangerously of Sinking” was a finalist for the 2021 Saguaro Prize in Poetry, and his poems have been published in The Cardiff Review, Midwest Review, Broad River Review and others.

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