After Don DeLillo’s Libra

Cover of "Libra"
Cover of Libra

* * *

When you work for the government, officials visit your neighbors. Men invite themselves into the kitchen. Through the curtains it looks like one person talking to himself.

* * *

In the crawl space you breathe economically. Albeits are off.

* * *

Dad worked for the Department of Defense. His job was confidential. The most important parts disappear.

* * *

He departed at approximately 5:30am. Arrived 7pm. Dinner rarely waited due to the oscillations of these parameters. The parameters ate his dinner.

Knives are called ‘lights out.’ Machine means gun.

* * *

They nod when and when they don’t.

* * *

It’s sweaty paper. It’s a name-changer–

the tail sweeping clean the footprints–you know, like you know yourself, nodding.

“This is when–” and “that was where–” Your arm is drawn across the shoulder of an entire country. It’s Cuba. You belong to every state of affairs– the shadowbox, the duck and cover.

* * *

In the 1950’s, Savannah River Site began production of tritium and plutonium-239, in support of Our Nation’s Defense.
In 1953 the R-Reactor went critical. 1954, the P-Reactor, L-Reactor, and K-Reactor went critical. 1955 C-Reactor. Critical.

* * *

I put my hand into my pocket: it creeps between existences. One and two.

Dad’s work was de-classified in 1999 and reclassified three years later.

The Cubans did practice-rounds on oranges in Florida. The sightlines were thin and there was the horizon.

* * *

ri-fle 
a gun with a long barrel that is fired from the shoulder.
ri-fle 
to search vigorously through something such as a drawer or room, often leaving things in disorder

* * *

No one used the money. Castro had no idea how to grow sugar cane, so after he burned the fields he returned them to his family.

just dirt.

Stable state ecology exalts in the dirt. People become dirt. Flowers grow round-about-like.

* * *

We measure productivity of nuclear facilities by studying atmospheric plumes.
Some nuclear material mathematically resembles chicken shit.
They made this mistake once.

* * *

My dad explained the secret of water.
It’s the H-bond. It makes ice float.
If it didn’t float, there were be nothing.
Water, above all things, he said, proved the existence of God.

* * *
Thomas Kuhn described the history of scientific revolutions as a series of accidents.
The first time it happens, the accident doesn’t really happen. We clean the instruments and do it again.
The second time the probability of an accident increases. But wait. We are careful now. We seal ourselves in the room.
After that, a queer eyeball lodges in our face. It is a question of more questions. Nothing is testable.

* * *

In 1988 SRS began to treat low level radioactive wastewater. Posters began to appear in every building.
Safety is a race we can all win.
Safe Operators are Smooth Operators.
Safety starts with S and ends with YOU.
2001 was a safety milestone: employees worked ten million hours without an injury resulting in time away from work.

* * *

A gyre is the spiral Hegel used to illustrate the circular progress of history.
A gyrene is a soldier in the U.S. Marine Corps. A marine’s schedule is like connecting the same dots with the same lines. Days don’t pass.

* * *

A helicopter drops you out of the bed. They know you from the aerial photographs. You’re the point where two lines disappear. You’re an accident of knowledge.

* * *

When my father retired from the DOD, he played golf. You can swing knowledge over your shoulder. Carry it. Don’t carry it. The grass looks like nothing happened. Tiny whitenesses spot the grounds–they’re in the air, the sand. A bit of a bit.

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