Atomic Theory

Kien Lam

They call it a nuclear missile.
The great equalizer. A man

dropped a bomb so big he could never
forget. This is how families begin: one accident

leads to the next and suddenly you're
giving your dog a one syllable name.

Spike. Spot. Boy. This is one big dick
joke. A mathematician walks into a bar

and there's no counter. A bar
walks into a city and stays there

until the neighborhood is gentrified
and all the poor people disappear.

This is fear in the modern era: you lose
your childhood home, all the awful

memories of your parents, the burning
smell of cup ramen smoking the microwave

because you forgot to add water,
which costs two ninety-nine

at the new organic food mart. You
want the whole thing to blow up

because you don't understand
what happens when the whole thing

blows up. You've never heard a gunshot
and you never want to. You want explosions

to remain in a state of metaphor: its smallest
anatomical structure, or something you see

in the movies. You don't expect it to be real.
You don't think there are that many men.