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Wright-Patterson Air Force Base: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

by Karen Skolfield

Our son touches
them. The guards
don’t mind.

Relics from a time
when nuclear
was everything.

Minuteman,
Peacekeeper,
Jupiter, Thor.

The ICBMs
six stories tall,
stunningly phallic.

The best offer
“enhanced survivability
during nuclear strike.”

These things
can’t hurt you,
one guard says,

not anymore.
He raps a knuckle
to test the ring.

Knows just
the spots
for certain notes.

Has musical background.
Loves jazz.
Heard of Chet Baker?

The low notes are Titan I.
High notes from
the shorter Minuteman.

When the crowd thins
he plays “Do-Re-Mi” and “Here
Comes the Bride” only slow,

like a funeral dirge,
because of the distance
between notes.