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Summer
2008

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Nerve Gas Farming
On hearing Newport, Indiana’s, nerve gas plant is a terror target
Michael Gavin

Summer moon eats away dark like
penicillin in a petri dish.

In his field, the farmer
threshes wheat,

finds his way through
labyrinths of his own design.

Indiana’s version of
Daedalus.

Out in Newport,
a plant for burning nerve gas

stands heavy-chested,
more menacing than Yeats’

great beast.  Smoke plumes: iridescence
meant to melt yellow faces in Vietnam. 

Four decades later, on the other side of the world,
four planes pummel buildings and ground.  Dust

of good people’s
bones spreads,
soaks into our lungs,
our blood.

Still, men till
fields where corn,

stronger than those buildings, stands. 
When the sun

strikes an orange glow,
shadows of tractors

skate against the plant’s walls; National
Guard helicopters keep beat with wind though the crops:

Whispers upon a national
secret.

At night, farmers, hunched-over, and dirt-
marked, sit at tables 

bruised with decades of silverware indentations. 
Eggs from their own chickens,

corn from their own fields,
wives from their own high schools.

Always death.  Always love.

Leaves burn in backyards.
They crumple up like old

ladies’ hands.  Smoke billows across open
fields, snakes to Newport, then across

the nation: Signals of a fire close enough
to singe at the core; far enough

to
ignore.