A Nuclear Winter

Not from heaven
but from hell above us,
yellow snow falls. Pieces

of brown sugar, so sweet,
but my hot chocolate is not.
I need a teaspoonful.

“But uranium is not tasty.”
“Yes, but it can kill me
then I can complain to god
about hot chocolate.”

The next day, I wake up in my bathtub
with my nose bleeding.
I need to clean it up, I need carbohydrate
but the cafeteria only sells yellow cakes
today, day and night.

“Smells like vomited brown sugar,
made with saccharin instead of bananas.”
My roommate tells me.

From outside the bathroom window
a tree gives me her finger, a little ruby bud.
I touch it, so cold and firm. Then she asks me:

“How can my child and I survive?”
“Donate 10 dollars to the church”
I write on the mirror.

Above the slender shadows of trees
clumps of deserted bicycles lay rusted
everywhere, as if melted together.

“Where are their owners?
Above or below us?”

It’s so unfortunate,
Prometheus brought us fire
and that bomb.

— Chengyu Liu


Chengyu Liu came from China seven years ago and is currently living in San Diego. He loves poetry and doing research on biomolecules. His poems are published or forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Aphelion and Grievous Angel.

Editor’s Notes: A yellow-rendered bright snow starlight background and an atomic bomb explosion suggest a nuclear winter