August 16, 2022

Cold War

A poem by J. Frank Wilson, MD, FACR

I wrote this poem several months ago shortly after Vladimir Putin raised the specter of nuclear war as the Russian invasion of Ukraine appeared to stall. His chilling threat brought back childhood memories, perhaps shared by others, and led me to reflect on how unprepared we are today to cope with such a possibility.


We screamed
when the siren sounded until the teacher said, “just the noon whistle”
we never noticed before.

Blinded by the mushroom cloud on the old flickering film
we learned to shelter under desks
we didn’t even have.

We joined
Civil Air Cadets
and scanned night skies with Dad’s old binoculars for planes long obsolete.

We heard every nasty rumor
that any new excavation was someone else’s private bomb shelter.

We believed that our GI Joes
and Batman were real and
would keep us safe.

Even now, our only plan:
Replace the moldy beans in our musty cellars.