Published in the Winter ’17 issue of The Oddville Review
by Kurt Baumeister
I remember being five or four or three
Asking my mother if there was a Hell
And if I was going. I never got
A good answer. Never got
The one I needed. Though I know
She gave me the one I wanted.
I remember dreaming about nuclear war
Running and hiding in my mind’s eye
Knowing the world was about to end
Two days two minutes two ticks
To midnight. Hoping it wouldn’t
Still thinking maybe there was a chance.
To be a child was to cry and be confused
To laugh little, to dream of other lives
That might have been better still
To be a man is to put away the child
To know that Hell and nuclear war
Are only as real as we make them.
But you will never stop asking your mother
For the answers. Even after you realize,
She never had them, and she never could.
Still you will call, “Mom?” long after
She is gone. Still you will wonder about Hell
And nuclear war.