I wrote this poem in 1988, when I was a junior in high school. Ronald Reagan was in office in those days, and I was fairly sure our world would end, not with a whimper, but with a bang. I use this poem in my creative writing class as a sacrificial lamb, showing my students how to critique an adolescent's poetry courtesy of the Rob Who Used to Be. The poetry unit started May 2, so I dug the poem up, dusted it off again, and made copies. Re-reading it, I find I'm still not sanguine about our chances.
Our Finest Hour
This is mankind's finest hour,
a chance to show our greatest power.
One push of the button and the show begins,
a debut that goes on until the world ends.
Floating through the air with the greatest of ease,
here come the trained missiles, eager to please.
They hit their marks with timing precise,
and explode in a fury, a killing device.
The light and the smoke make a fatal celebration,
as the mushroom clouds spread joyous radiation.
A glad cry is silenced by the brilliant white heat,
not a sound in the place as the nuke does its feat.
A parade of the dead marches 'round center ring,
as the Ringmaster laughs at this glorious thing.
The life of mankind is an extinguished flame,
and there is no villain, no one thing to blame.
The performers, all clowns, lie dead on the floor.
The Ringmaster whispers, “That's it folks, no more.”
He staggers, he stumbles, he drops to his knee,
his whole body shakes as he cackles with glee.
Gone is the progress we thought we had made.
Our mark on the Earth has started to fade.
The farce is now over, the end is a fact.
The curtain is closing, we've ended our act.