Nuclear Winter: Poetry for the Apocalypse (1986)
This past September I was wandering the shelves of a Half Price Books in Austin, TX when I stumbled upon the most peculiar little book. Titled Nuclear Winter, this book from 1986 was aesthetically unimpressive, with its cover design rivaling the very worst masturbatory self-published volumes on Lulu. I instantly thought that the washed out black of the cover was likely a product of poor printing from a small indie publisher rather than the 25 years it had been sitting dormant.
Written by Stephen Daniel Mings, the book is a collection of 43 poems, each written from the perspective of a different person who has surivived a global nuclear war. Needless to say, it's a bit of a downer. This book of poetry is not recommended for getting your main squeeze in the mood, as Emily Dickinson's darkest lines would likely be more successful in that endeavor.
Nuclear Winter presents the viewpoints of individual nuclear holocaust victims, some adult, some children, in different locations and circumstances, who have survived the first shock of a major nuclear war. The poems are arranged in the order I wrote them between October and December 1985. They reveal a world in the grip of nuclear winter where snow and ice, changed weather patterns and grey clouded skies are made worse by the radioactive refuse of a planetary nuclear battleground.
My purpose is to alert the reader to the danger of a major nuclear war. I do not believe such a war is likely today, but it is more likely than it was ten or twenty years ago and if something is not done to prevent it, such a war will grow increasingly possible. Read the poems, see the consequences and avert the war. (February 1986)
Below is poem number eleven, titled Dear Santa.
Dear Santa, please hurry here.
Our daughter Marie is only four
but her logic is as clear
as midnight broken by the searing light
of the bomb blast.
She's afraid you aren't coming
because the shelter has no chimney,
only an air vent to filter out death.
She smiled a little when we told her
she'd join you in heaven.
But the morphine is almost gone and
she won't be able to smile much longer.