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Homefront

Knowing the Bomb So Well

After the nightly news and four martinis
he quietly begins to draw the inner workings

of the bomb, knowing the explosion needed
to ignite fission does not itself comprise

the real event; how compartmentalized the bomb,
of necessity, is, to keep the elements

separate until it impacts on target;
with what care the bomb is timed so that

from the moment of release it proceeds
inexorably to detonation.

It is necessary then to explain his drawing
in detail to the children, before they go to bed.

After a few moments he quizzes them:
What are the proper names of the bombs dropped

on Nagasaki, Hiroshima? Who captained
the Enola Gay? How does a prisoner

of war answer the enemy? The children
do not speak. They know release has occurred,

the elements are colliding, impact is inevitable.
It is always a first-strike situation. Always.

THE POEMS SET TO MUSIC

Renowned Chicago musician Michael Smith has set one of the sequences in Homefront to music. The story of Mis, the madwoman of County Kerry in Ireland, is found in the place-poetry of that region but is generally little-known. Patricia resurrected this tale and told it in the complex metrical formulations of the medieval Irish poets. Sung by Chicago vocalist Jamie O'Reilly, the poems bring to life an inspiring story of survival and redemption in the midst of war.

SOLDIER'S HEART: THE BOOK OF SWEENEY

Part of Homefront is a series of poems in the voice of Sweeney (Suibne), the Irish king who went mad "from the noise of battle." This series is available in a special edition from Chanting Press, with extensive notes and introductory material on the situation of war veterans and the healing power of nature.