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Stars, Meteors, Bombs

by Johannah Racz Knudson

One minute, nothing, and the next, the seventh plague: hail pounded the house like a rioting crowd and smashed the car into tin foil. It turns out totaled means total loss. The hail was bigger than a ping pong ball but smaller than a baseball. I don’t know the exact size, only the destruction.


A week earlier, my husband sprayed the wasp nest under the eaves with a foamy stream of insecticide. A hundred stings can kill you. If you get too close, they mark you with pheromones and chase you down. They’re always looking for a fight and a hole to fill.


Over sixty years ago, the US government blew Bikini Atoll to Hell, detonating twenty-three nuclear devices over twelve years, including two atom bombs and a hydrogen bomb. Before that, they blew up a desert in New Mexico. J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the bomb, said, Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. After Hiroshima, he said, I carry no weight on my conscience. He said many things. In 1967, he died of throat cancer.


Fifteen million years ago, a meteor crashed in the mountains of eastern Europe and exploded with the power of many hydrogen bombs. A hydrogen bomb is a thousand times more powerful than an atom bomb. It was a good thing no one existed yet.


Fifteen million years ago is an approximation. Carl Sagan said millions, billions, trillions because a year doesn’t matter on a universal scale. All we know is the sky is full of stars, some of which are meteors, some of which are bombs.

Author's Note

We don’t have a reliable weather warning system in my town, which is why I wasn’t expecting it when a hailstorm hit my house with stunning violence in July 2019. The moment caused this series of personal and historical events to line up in my consciousness.

Johannah Racz Knudson works from Fort Collins, Colorado as a freelance writer and writing coach. Her poetry has appeared in Sycamore Review, Puerto del Sol, Peregrine, Threadcount, Superstition Review, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University and is a two-time winner of the AWP Intro Journals Award.

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