Another Poem from TOTEM, Caltech's Literature and Art Journal


Last night the ultimatum
war all but declared.
We hold our beloveds
and wait.
Petunias in our courtyards
seem disproportionately fragile
and lovely
to this day.

Wind whooshes hard and cold
parting my hair
so my scalp stings.
I pull aching shoulders
up around my neck
while petunias hunker down
in the stark sunlight
of an azure sky
that seems too bright to be ironic.
All around me these brilliant flowers
are pushed down, almost flattened
against the brittle ground
by the burning cold.

There will be fires
and monarchs boasting
dead sons and daughters
all of them ours
where even the brightest blossoms
will be drenched
in humanity’s shame.