Splitting the Atom for Dummies

by Mike Dockins

     America the plum blossoms are falling.
          —Allen Ginsberg

The atom cannot remember its baby-
hood, when it was whole. At a state fair,

west of someplace, a muscled barker
whomped it with a rubber mallet.

This was the atom’s bildungsroman:
it traveled the world, splitting itself

over islands, atolls, & fishing villages.
The atom learned Japanese, composed

lucid odes to harbors, to wings, to light—
little flashes of genius piloting down

through bright mornings, alighting
on bookshelves as thin, papery Buddhas.

Mike Dockins lives in Decatur GA, where he teaches English at GA Perimeter College. He holds a BS from SUNY Brockport, an MFA from UMASS Amherst, and a PhD from GA State University. His poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, Quarterly West, and elsewhere, and they have been reprinted on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and in the 2007 edition of The Best American Poetry. His critically-acclaimed first book, Slouching in the Path of a Comet (Sage Hill Press, 2007) is currently approaching a third printing. Fame For Zoe, the latest album from Mike’s acoustic-pop band Clop, is available on iTunes.

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