Poem of the Week | February 09, 2015

This week we offer a new poem by Melissa Tuckey. Tuckey is author of Tenuous Chapel, which won the ABZ First Book Prize, selected by Charles Simic (2013). Her poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Phoebe, Poetry International, Poet Lore, and other journals. Tuckey has received support from a Fine Arts Work Center Winter Fellowship and grants from Ohio Arts Council and DC Commission on Arts and Humanities. She’s a co-founder of Split This Rock, a national poetry organization dedicated to socially engaged poetry. She lives and works in Ithaca, New York.
Author’s note:

This poem was inspired by a photo of an event that looms large in my mind. Once I started writing, the titans showed up. I was thinking about the mythic qualities of family, how adults from a child’s point-of-view are clumsy and towering gods.


These Little Bombs

At night they fought. The titans in my family
drank Scotch and had enormous butts. No one remembers
what they fought about, or how the slobber of tears
catapulted into laughter and hugging. It was a long night.
They drank until the capillaries in their faces broke.
The men, God help them, they watched TV.
One uncle was thin as a cigarette, another could
talk like daffy duck.On a good day they watched men
in uniform run across a field, slamming into one another.
The titans raged and passions flared.Storms
out of no where to shake the house,
slamming doors and lifting children
with such force family portraits rocked.
As kids we learned to recognize
the smell of beans on fire, to know the sizzle
of a pot empty of water… At night we dreamed
of nuclear annihilation, the adults turned to vapor
and all the good houses empty,
shopping carts pushing through the shimmering light
of a world turned to plenty.