Today on the penultimate day of NPM I feature my good friend Mike Dockins, author of Slouching in the Path of a Comet (Sage Hill Press, 2007) and the forthcoming “Letter to So-and-So from Wherever” (C&R Press, due out, we hope, in January). Mike and I studied together in school and have kept in touch for many years. He favors letter poems (there exists a seven-page poem called “Letter to Meserve from Orgeval”), and together we’re in the midst of a postcard poem project: he writes me a poem on a postcard and mails it off; I read it, write a response, and mail one back. It’s been great fun, and stay tuned because there will be more news on that tomorrow!

For today, please enjoy “Splitting the Atom for Dummies.”

Splitting the Atom for Dummies

America the plum blossoms are falling.
—Allen Ginsberg

The atom cannot remember its baby-
hood, when it was whole. At a state fair,

west of someplace, a muscled barker
whomped it with a rubber mallet.

This was the atom’s bildungsroman:
it traveled the world, splitting itself

over islands, atolls, & fishing villages.
The atom learned Japanese, composed

lucid odes to harbors, to wings, to light—
little flashes of genius piloting down

through bright mornings, alighting
on bookshelves as thin, papery Buddhas.

(© Mike Dockins)

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