Stealthily it will come like termites weakening floorboards.
It will come under darkness, clouds kidnapping the moon
while everyone sleeps. It will slow burn and smolder, no flame
waving the flag of crisis when well-built walls crumble to ash.
We in the mined lands know something about collapse. It’s not
always explosions and smoke plumes visible seventeen miles away.
Hollow tunnels, machine-carved then eroded by seepage, run beneath
neighborhoods, beneath playgrounds, schools, homes and highways.
Here, the ground could swallow the workaday surface into its jagged
stony mouth any moment. You’ll wake to cracking beams in the house
frame, roaring asphalt or stop signs tumbling in. The news will show
the doll’s head, the tricycle, the mangled Toyota dirty at pit bottom.
Don’t believe the half-truth litany of tragedy the TV chants night
and day. Usually suffering is quiet as mice, unseen, hidden in shadows
like a basement cricket behind the furnace. It’s there, it sings, but we
sleep too well, hear nothing except in fitful rest and dark dreams.
Christopher Todd Anderson is
Associate Professor of English at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, where he teaches courses in American literature, creative writing, environmental literature, and popular culture. His poetry has appeared in journals such as River Styx, Tar River Poetry, Ellipsis, Chicago Quarterly Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, and The Midwest Quarterly.
Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review. Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri. She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.