Bomb-Shelter Futurism by John Bradley

Bomb-Shelter Futurism

In a damp basement in Avdiivka,
a six-year-old girl named Varvara
draws a green alien with a black

eye that can see into the infinitely

finite future. It sees Vladimir Putin,
feet up on his 55-ton desk, staring at a photo
of Joseph Stalin. The sharp steel bristles

of Stalin’s mustache could draw blood

from delicate tissue. Putin nods,
raises his vodka glass to Comrade Stalin
and says: Great Leader, tell me,

will I ever be as greatly feared as you?

The alien briefly shudders. Then
its blank eye sees a long, birch-bark-
like strip cradled in the soft hands

of a surgeon who has just sliced

and pried this listless metal tongue
from the back of a woman, whose flesh
will never let her forget. The alien tilts

slightly to one side, then quickly rights

itself. Now its blank eye sees a girl
in a dank basement. She’s drawn
a green alien with one eye in the center

of its head. A reporter asks her:

Tell me, what can it see?
Can it see the end of this war?
No, says Varvara. No one can see that.

by John Bradley

Editor’s Note: This surrealistic narrative poem draws the reader into a possible scenario, yet as all good fiction does, also presents the reader with a probable truth that underlies the fictional story.

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