Hugh McFadden

The Temperature Was X Degrees

(i.m. The Unknown Shadow)

The Enola Gay pilot sits wrapped
in his fur-lined leather jacket
to keep out the cold of upper space:
his co-pilot reads the zoned map
of the city doomed to be consumed
in the inferno of blinding light

the plane breathes out a plume of fumes.

Soundless, the ‘Little Boy’ device falls
in slow motion, receding in space
and, like a star, it implodes-explodes

far below, the atomic base surges.


Paul W. Tibbets was no Dante:
the shades he left behind were shadows
of human persons, stamped on stone steps.

Hugh McFadden is a poet, critic, and literary editor. Born in Derry, he lives in Dublin. His poems have been published widely in literary magazines in Ireland and Britain. He is the author of four collections of poetry, including Elegies & Epiphanies (Lagan Press, Belfast, 2005). Salmon Poetry published his most recent collection Empire of Shadows in 2012. He is the executor of the literary estate of the writer John Jordan, and edited his collected poems and collected short stories, as well as John Jordan: Selected Poems (Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2008). He has reviewed for a variety of papers & journals, including Hibernia, The Irish Independent, The Irish Press, The Irish Times, The Sunday Tribune and Books Ireland.