Maureen Seaton

Splitting the Atom


I’ve always loved a good physicist, his fanatic waves & trickster

particles tripping over each other like ambivalent siblings.

Once my vertebrae were thoughtfully labeled in hues from 1-33. 

Sure enough, four of them said Boo, then ate themselves silly.

Now radiation arrives in subatomics until my hair flies away

& my skin flushes & I’m too radioactive to turn myself off

much less on. I don’t always comprehend physics, but I love

the sound of words like chaos, antimatter, synchronicity, bang.

Today I soaked up beams from Linear Particle Accelerator #4.

(Denver is a good place to die, they say. Rockies. Omelets.)

There were no physicists present, although I saw one lurking

along the Corridor of Death. (I’m being dramatic.) (No I’m not.)

If there had been a physicist in the flesh I would have been too shy

to approach him. I would have wanted to say: Cure cancer, you idiot. 

What I heard during treatment today: the voices of shadowy cells

whispering as they slipped away: We never meant to harm you.

Avoiding Suicide

A loomy mountain looms outside the window, waves to me from a great height. 

A small boy jumps off the mountain and lives! (I’m hallucinating.)

In reality, I bounce around in a bouncy house with the little daredevil, champion

toddler jumper of Boulder County, who flips and falls as if made of cloud.

(Logic has no place here, nor the gross motor skills of a woman high on altitude.)

Thus the poem augurs an undecipherable path. It leaps along the mountaintop.

Stop using me in your ridiculous death scenarios, interjects the mountain,

which is rocky, after all, not all that secure in its footing or self-esteem. (More

hallucinating.) Other Rockies leap around me like a dozen redeeming boys. 


Cento for Court Green 12: The Final Issue, 2015

(I had, after all, been raped)

And then what. And then what.

Sweet Mother, I’d rather be unchosen.

Syllables biding in my pink throat.

Marvelous mother-tongue stung in the silent

of all the crying out.

Change your name and move to a ghost town.

Your debonair hat falls past your eye.

In my new identity, I get breast implants.

My rhyming is a sin.  

I am not making this up and maybe I am in hell

but it is so beautiful and full of nature.

It is very late. Or it is very early.

In silence, the wind whistling but not.

Note: All lines found in Court Green 12: The Final Issue, 2015: Line 1. David Trinidad 2. G.C. Waldrep. 3. Traci Brimhall  4. CM Burroughs  5. George Kalamaras  6. Eric Weinstein 7. Ching-In Chen 8. Denise Duhamel 9. Micah Bateman 10. Jessica Dyer 11. Nancy Eimers 12. Tony Trigilio. 



Author Bio

Maureen Seaton has authored nineteen poetry collections, both solo and collaborative. Her awards include the Iowa Poetry Prize and Lambda Literary Award, the Audre Lorde Award, an NEA fellowship, and two Pushcart Prizes. Her memoir, Sex Talks to Girls (University of Wisconsin Press, 2008, 2018), also garnered a “Lammy.” A new poetry collection, Fisher, is out from Black Lawrence Press (2018). Seaton is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Miami, Florida.