welcome to the haikutimes

Issue #144, Sand Dunes/Los Alamos, June 2008

You barf in the car
not fifteen minutes out of town,
trucks whooshing by
our barf-cleanup-turnout.

While I give the seat a cleaning,
you walk around the car,
methodically chanting and carrying a trash bag
apparently unaware of
your recent transgression.

Poncha pass baby maintenance detour:
seeking a place free from wind,
(immediately, the defining weather feature of the trip),

we pull into a closed campsite -
save for the host, who looks through the window of his RV at us,
one arm on the sill, watching tv,
demanding to know what we want
in his refuge in the woods.

Using the proposal - backed up by evidence
that we need to change a diaper out of the wind,
we meet his unshaven approval
and place Phoenix on a blanket,
attending to her
while Orion romps in the front of the car,
pushing buttons, pretending to drive.

As Orion approaches 2.5,
his true passion, it seems,
is discerning the mystery of buttons and dials
within the closed environment of the car.

Neding no food for lunch
young boy rides the wave
of button excitement

Car travel with babies:
moments easily forgotten
of rhythmic requests for play-doh,
water, the sandman book,
the window to be open, closed..

Our excited arrival
at the sand dunes camp
tempered by 'full' signs

Two trips searching
around loop A and B
for non-existent spot

With two babies in the car,
after a five hour drive
and no place to camp at the Park
we are pressed to decide
if we should finally break the homeowners agreement
of "no camping" in the land we own
in Zapata subdivision, three miles south of the Sand Dunes.

Easily remembering code
makes me think of redcoats and patriots
we glide through the gate

Setting up large tent
Phoenix nibbles on needles
and pine cones nearby

Evening wanes, bedtime nears
sunlight streams straight into tent
raising the temperature

Brushing at gnats
and no-see-ums
awakening to small red nibbles on our legs

Unique event
first time for camping
with two children under three

Tending our spot with some paranoia
that we will be busted by the Zapata homeowners association
(who fortunately do not make an appearance)

In Los Alamos:

Grandpa now faced
with task of childproofing
as Orion draws near

Spiral staircase
for inquisitive boy -
a total hit

Parental scrutiny
for things that drop on the floor
and disrupt the order

Not following exact
espresso regimen, i am reduced
to asking for a cup

Hot concrete,
rust-worn lounge chairs
surround baby pool

Book-loving mother
is also baby-loving grandma
watching kids while we sleep

That fan on the floor
left almost as bait
for fan-loving boy

Father on call
for every mishap that might involve
outdoor swimming pool

Bradbury Science museum:
displays illustrate the motto of the town -
("Los Alamos - where discoveries are made")
with concise and lyrical explanations of the work
done in weapons research, biochemical,
imaging, energy and environmental technologies
(just to name a few).

I find my old high-school typing companion Joe Martz
explaining to me on a video
the importance of how materials in weapons
need to be tested and re-tested.

A special exhibit room for children
displays working levers, weights and pulleys.

Just recently added,
a woodworking marvel of gears
clicks to the slow descent of a weight
while modular gears and finely calibrated scales
give young minds a work-out.

There is a small alcove in the Bradbury Science Museum
dedicated to preserving the memory of the holocaust
while questioning the rationale for atomic weapons
and the need to steward the stockpile.
(the pictures that follow are NOT at the museum - ed.)

Horrific pictures and politically motivated cartoons
illustrate a particular point of view.

It is remarkable that this exhibit -
examining the morality and necessity of atomic weapons -
is allowed to exist at all in this museum.
But the display is too small, and has the wrong focus.
what Bradbury needs is more wall space devoted to
philosophy, rather than politics.

I propose the laboratory use at least half the museum
to ask a question that science can't tackle:
What does a culture, a species,
do with it's jingoistic tendencies
now that terrible weapons with no equal are obtainable?

There are no ready answers, no comfortable displays,
but perhaps philosophers and poets should be given a chance
to pose this most difficult of questions
to try to make sense of the true legacy of the town
where discoveries have been made.

The Los Alamos city council
might want to choose a new motto:
"Where non-proliferation starts",
This could be the next Manhattan Project -
Why not put the genie back into the bottle
on the mesas where it escaped to begin with?

In display terms, it is simple. Half the museum
devoted to the big, unanswerable question
so that in the future, anthropologists will say
"they knew the power that science gave them,
and yet they recognized the limits of science."

The OPI church sits angry,
abandoned and isolated on diamond drive,
far from the well-funded halls of science.
This irreverent A-frame
distinguishes itself only slightly
from the salvage junk at the Black Hole next door,
perhaps unintentionally doing itself a disservice
by being surrounded by items cast off
From the institution is so reviles.

The two artistically disabled warheads
set high on poles, like agonized hunters
caught frozen in mid-hunt,
might be a suitable frontispiece
for Bradbury's new exhibit
of non-proliferation and compassion.

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen