The Northville Review
an online literary journal
The Day I Nuked the Romans

Catherine McGuire

The tension had been building;
they surrounded my best cities,
stepping over the border every chance
they got, then a step back,
apologetic façade, and they’d start
tormenting again.

But I had never used
the Ultimate Weapon; never
let the million-pixeled simulacrum descend
in any of the hundred wars waged
through the many flat-screened ages,
through the nights of staring at flailing
soldiers the size of large ants;
nights I ignored my poetry, my dishes,
conquering the worlds I didn’t live in,
avoiding the one I did.

Fear of some karma held me; a
little voice whispering that it did matter;
the tiny nuke was my intent
and Rubicons could be as small as thought.

That night I turned away
from the whisper, joined the thousands
(millions?) who called it a game,
who killed, raped, stole in full-color fantasies,
whose fingers pushed the button
again and again.

And it did become easier; the next night
Paris fell, and Puna — any city I could reach
to pummel my enemies. For after all,
what harm could a computer game

About the author

Catherine McGuire has been a published poet for two decades, still very much in love with reading and writing poems. She is a member and newsletter editor of Oregon State Poetry Association. About 100 of her poems have appeared various publications, including MReview, Portland Lights Anthology, Folio, Tapjoe, plus a chapbook “Joy Into Stillness: Seasons of Lake Quinault”.