Four Poems

What Love Is

Now I’m going to define true love.
Don’t worry—I won’t go slack or soft, it won’t
Be a load of sentimental crap. I don’t
Describe it in terms of the turtle-dove.
Give me a break. It bubbles up the way
That lava does, too hot to touch or know,
For it both burns and makes. Just watch it go
Across the little roads of what we say
We think we know we are. Deep in some night,
The necessary flood of love bursts free
Again and flowing irresistibly,
Incinerating towns, a car, a cow,
Is utterly itself down to the sea,
Where it explodes and comes to rest held tight,
New land that makes us stammer, stupid, “Wow…!”
So now I’m going to tell you. Now. Now. Now. 

Hydrogen Bomb Ignition Sequence

So now you’ve learned to make the flash with no known tense,
Which, falling into time, then made each grain of sand.
Strange, how it is a chain of diamond-cut events:
First, cock and pull cold Pluto’s A-bomb trigger and
Ka-Pow! It smoothly crushes the next stage’s sphere,
Igniting Tritium, Deuterium to equal
Four Helium, one neutron and…well, looky here:
A real-time, hot-damn thermonuclear blast sequel,
17.6 million electron volts
Of free, indifferent energy, a boiling blaze
Whose model is the old beginning force that jolts
Two atoms into one and yields the perfect rage
For order, radiation coupling x-ray dense.
Good job, my small, forked sparkplug! Nothing will be spared.
Come on, just one more time: E = mc2.

Luck Madness Money

Darling, I’m sorry we’re ridiculous,
So much less than you it’s like we’re dead,
Cultivating hothouse words meticulous
Or private games that taste like cardboard bread.
Enough already! Time to act alive
To cities lips eyes words all long since freed,
Farms factories schools churches roads to drive,
Luck madness money each old truth new need.
Nobody needs a theory of what’s real
To talk about it and I will not choose
Between the finch and dirty business deal.
Bring it all and bring my walking shoes.
Yep, last apology. I what? Since when?
Lover, just show me if—I’ll show you then.


O Captain

Pulled up, cradled my sandy lance, ate lunch.
Mid-day, hot and quiet. Had an itch—
Standard issue boxers in a bunch—
But scratching under these clothes? Life’s a bitch.
Sancho was complaining, pointed out
How our rides need up-armoring, ignored.
I nodded, ate my rations, said “No doubt.”
Told him “Off-shift. Take a nap.” He snored,
Then woke up, muttered “How about a beer?”
I laughed and closed my visor. A truck exploded
In the market, killing twenty. Fear.
Blood everywhere.   We went in locked and loaded.
That’s when all hell broke loose. I still believe.
I’m just so sorry that I had to leave.

About David J. Rothman

David J. Rothman is the Director of the Poetry Concentration with an Emphasis on Form in the new low-residency MFA program at Western State College of Colorado, and also teaches at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is co-Founder of the Crested Butte Music Festival, Founding Editor and Publisher of Conundrum Press, and served for six years as Headmaster of Crested Butte Academy, an independent school in Colorado. He is President of the Robinson Jeffers Association and sits on a number of non-profit boards. Rothman’s volumes of poetry include Dominion of Shadow, Beauty at Night and The Elephant’s Chiropractor, which was a Finalist for the Colorado Book Award. A new volume, Go Big, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Over the last 30 years his poems have appeared Appalachia, The Atlantic, The Formalist, The Gettysburg Review, The Hudson Review, The Journal, The Kenyon Review, Light, Measure, Poetry, The Threepenny Review and scores of other journals. New poetry and prose is forthcoming in The Blueroad Reader, Contemporary Poetry Review and others.