THE REVELATION Robert Oppenheimer, physicist and director of the Los Alamos Laboratory

October 20, 2014

After the first flash, white as scalding milk,

blanched eyes dim in their sockets & grope toward

mortal sight, mere fire roiling in charred air.

Wind fists & lifts a cloak of desert dust

in billows & folds shrugged over scarlet

shoulders of flame. A botched shape slowly stands


& roars. Its breath reeks of burnt sand. Sage

ignites. Birds fall in flames. This is the Song

of God.

Brow shadows thicken. The figure

rises into thinner air & darkens

& chokes. Its last strangled growlings fatten

an uneasy silence. Some people laugh.


Some cry. I say, “It worked.” My tongue is black

with ash. These men have been my many arms.


Vishnu tries to teach the Prince his duty.

Again he bellows: I am become

Death, destroyer of worlds.


we all think that,

                            one way or another.