Newsmen call it the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Teachers say it's the end of the world.
At school, they instruct us to look up
and watch the Cuban-cursed sky.
Search for a streak of light.
Listen for a piercing shriek,
the whistle that will warn us
as poisonous A-bombs
Hide under a desk.
Pretend that furniture is enough
to protect us against perilous flames.
Radiation. Contamination. Toxic breath.
Each air-raid drill is sheer terror,
but some of the city kids giggle.
They don't believe that death
They've never touched a bullet,
or seen a vulture, or made music
of a mule.
When I hide under my frail school desk,
my heart grows as rough and brittle
as the slab of wood
that fails to protect me