Four Poems – Sophia Holtz



What The Bomb Leaves Behind

The fireball created by Trinity’s explosion 
was so hot, it pulled in the surrounding sand 
and rained down a green glass they call 
trinitite. For years the army sold it 
to collectors. It was prized. A novelty. 

It is easiest to grasp the cloud—
The first and last breath of an explosion
barely comprehensible. 

Understand you’ve only seen its picture 
because it proves you come from someplace strong. 
Understand that half of what you’re told
is a show of force. 

Know there are places the living cannot go, 
new skins they wear when they risk— 
plastic suits, gas masks, iodine. 
There are craters and craters 
and islands uninhabitable. 
Particle-death that travels 
through us, leaving remnants in our bodies. 

Know what it has taken from us,
what we threw into it—
the smoke we see rising, towering 
over everything we have lost.

Atomic Parable #2

In the years after words, there were still rumors. Stories scratched in the dirt of a wild man living in one of the desert bunkers who could still speak. If you brought him paper, he would teach you. Some thought he had teeth like a nest of crows, or was missing the two in the front. Some thought he could live without water, or had a secret storage that he hid from us. That he lisped (as if we knew what that meant), that his voice sounded like stones breaking. What was most important, everyone seemed to agree, is that he knew how to speak altogether. But none of us knew the man’s name or what he looked like, and though most thought he was made-up altogether, the promise of speech is what kept folks out in the desert searching till sundown. Every night, the wind swept away our tracks.

I went looking for him, once. With my water rations, with my spit, I ground down all the wood I’d salvaged, and dried under my oven-hot tent. I walked for three days and three nights, long past the ringing of our camp bells, long past the lights of anyone, a lone shadow in a sea of sand. On the morning of the fourth day, I came across a Joshua tree. I’d always thought they had not survived. The tree, bloomless, was covered in white moths, a trapdoor at its base. Opening it, climbing down, I found shelves and shelves of paper, all of it blank. Nothing else but bones and dust. I opened my mouth and swallowed it all.



The year 2000 was the end of the world. 
There was a human mistake in the code 
bound to kill us—power outages, 
economic collapse. The machines 
were coming, and people on the news bought 
all the bottled water in the city— 
the camera panning over the empty 
grocery store aisles, the frightened hands 
boarding up their windows, the worried mouths 
telling us why they were so worried. 
Every door locked as the ball dropped on TV. 
When nothing happened, we went to sleep. 
Some of us choked on relief. Some of us 
craved disaster so hard. When we say the word 
apocalypse, we are saying lifting of the veil
—an old translation nobody ever uses. 
It’s the kind of ending I prefer. Lifting 
the veil from our bodies, the glory of us. 
We who have made such death stories, 
who dream ourselves doom as if we are impossible, 
as if nothing can come of us.

lies about the future

our space apartment floating above worlds.
this cloud place with temperature control,
greenhouses, computer adjustments
for a calm mood—how easy
to live here, how robotic—this us
left outside of time to our own devices.
what to do here in our pod world
where everything is done to a minimal 
soundtrack, the walls made of light
like the advertisements. what will they give me
if I ask for it?         you can buy all of this. 
you can live like us for the right price 
even here, after all this time 

we made the hover-cars you wanted
& the capsules where you keep
anything you like, even your life
which is just a series of puzzles
& codes we’ll learn the answer to 
the way we learned the answer to blood
which is more blood, which is more time
to forget what came before you


About Sophia Holtz

Sophia Holtz is a writer, performer, and sometimes-illustrator. She has featured in bars, colleges, and the occasional basement throughout the United States. Her work has appeared in RHINO, decomP, H_NGM_N, and other journals. She received her BA from Hampshire College, is a MFA candidate at NYU, and was a member of the 2015 Boston Poetry Slam Team. Find her at View all posts by Sophia Holtz

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