‘RA Radium’ By Robert René Galván

Ra
Radium

Our Lady of Radium
mused in her chapel
among the tubes
of “faint fairy lights,”
her own halo growing,
a thimble-full
derived from tons
of black pitch,
and carried a small
phial in her pocket
until it formed an
ulcer on her flesh,
yet it became
an elixir
and found its way
into toothpaste
and cosmetics,
tonics and suppositories,
and even in the blue-green
glow of time.

Grace Fryer worked
in the halls of US Radium,
deftly etched numbers
on watches,
licked her brush
to make a fine point
and began to glow
in the dark;
her coworkers
walked the streets
at night and
were called
ghost girls,
but the company
insisted that they
were safe,
and when their
teeth began to fall
out, the boss
blamed it on syphilis;
one by one,
they succumbed
and their bones
still radiate
in the grave,
Marie, too,
her marrow
melted,
her belongings
tainted to this day.

Somewhere
in the attic
of my parents’
house is a clock
from the set
of Metropolis
that once sat
on the mantle,
beacon of my
childhood
somnambulance,
casts an ominous
shadow
on the rafters.


Robert René Galván was born in San Antonio, now residing in New York City. He works as a professional musician and poet. His collections of poems are Meteors, published by Lux Nova Press and Undesirable: Race and Remembrance, Somos en Escrito Foundation Press, Standing Stones, Finishing Line Press and The Shadow of Time, Adelaide Books. His poetry was recently featured in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Azahares Literary Magazine, Gyroscope, Hawaii Review, Hispanic Culture Review, Newtown Review, Panoply, Prachya Review, Sequestrum, Shoreline of Infinity, Somos en Escrito,  Stillwater Review, West Texas Literary Review, and the Winter 2018 issue of UU World. He is a Shortlist Winner Nominee in the 2018 Adelaide Literary Award for Best Poem. Recently, his poems are featured in Puro ChicanX Writers of the 21st Century (2nd Edition) and in Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art and Thought. His poems have been nominated for Best of Web and the Pushcart Prize. His poem, Awakening, was featured in the author’s voice on NPR as part of National Poetry Month in the Spring of 2021.


Art by Kate Alsbury

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