Poem: The Speed of Sound | Poetry | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
Pin It

Poem: The Speed of Sound 

In the fifth grade Simon learned
to count the seconds between lightning’s bolt
and thunder’s arrival, five to the mile.

Learned that a second
was one Mississippi long,
and the late night 4th of July fireworks
set off from a barge on Lake Quannapowitt
exploded six Mississippis from his bedroom.

Eight years later he realized the shrinking seconds
between detonation flash and thunder
meant some B-52s rain of quarter ton death
were miles off target in the night.

He dove for his hole.

In less than a Mississippi
the earth bulged in the silence
that is sound beyond comprehension.

The right wall of his foxhole
slammed him against the left
and would not let go,
squeezed him like a pumpkin seed,
kept him locked in a dirt cradle,
the steel dome of his helmet
popped just clear of the ground
the horizontal slit below filled
with eyes that could not close.

In the dawn he saw distant voices
a foot away trying to get his attention
as they scrambled to dig him out.

There was a hand lying on the dirt in front of him,
black ants swarming where the wrist used to be.

He knew the hand wasn’t his.
When someone stepped on it,
he flinched.

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Poem: Graeae

    A poem by Shawn Nacona Stroud.
    • May 1, 2016
  • Poem: Nothing Lost

    A poem by Christine McCartney.
    • May 1, 2016

Hudson Valley Events

submit event

You Are What You [M]eat: The Culture of Meat in 19th–20th Century America

Dec. 15-March 30 — Through the use of primary texts, cultural artifacts, and multimedia, You Are...

Our Town

Fri., Dec. 15, 7 p.m., Sat., Dec. 16, 7 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 17, 2 & 7 p.m. — KHS Theatrics presents Thornton Wilder's Our Town....

View all of today's events

Latest in Poetry

More by Ken Sutton

Hudson Valley Tweets