Band boX by Peter Layton

Kennedy was always on the tube
now he looked strained, lips tipped tight
my father would lay out his CD-strewn diagrams
over the floor, tell me grouped stories
of what would happen if--
Khruschev’s tom toms flopped down
Here Where We Live, our pretty shrubbery town
these streets—reminds our neighbors’ll become
the true animals they truly are…
Mr. Cowans next door will Come for Our Valuables
new valuables, not money he said
but our Canned Food! Guns, any knives
even our garage tools, shows me line blueprints
of a wonderful brick fortress half in the ground
pipes stick up, gas flashlights
a battery radio will be better than gold
to hear which US cities are left
maybe all of the Soviet Union smashed
all that’ll matter, all that will be will be
Our Family, Me, Your Mother, Your Sister
not your dog, there will only be enough
food and water for the humans! We may have
to remain underground in our back yard for weeks
maybe months, or God possibly years--
when he was done Kennedy saying something
on the tube, the spill of loose dropped plans
cross the weave of the floor
adds it might be dark down there
I imagine these possibilities being hunched together
with my own family which fights over
every dinner table, breakfasts where
his thundered opinions’d shut up all other thought
dream of sprinting out just before
be in Sheryl McMillan’s family’s little fallout
but instead over time maybe have to kill
the rest of her family for pure survival.
just her and me, almost or maybe better
than getting married or going steady.