When John and I tried to make rocket fuel
in my basement lab, we ground up
sodium chlorate and sugar,
and it blew up. Pieces
of the glass mortar and pestle
scattered across the bench.
Then Pat Plunket cut an artery in his arm
after he tried to make a jet car
by packing magnesium powder
into a CO2 cartridge and
Chip Lynch lost two fingers
trying to launch an empty rifle shell
packed with match heads
out of his bedroom window.
When our parents cut off our supply
of chemicals from the drug store,
we were trapped on Chestnut Drive—
sullen, until one summer night
when we lay on our backs
in the warm grass in the backyard
and watched Sputnik tumble
across the night sky like it was our moon,
like we had helped, somehow, to make it.
Warren Woessner co-founded Abraxas Press and WORT-FM in Madison WI. Six collections of his poetry have been published, including Exit ~ Sky (Holy cow! Press) and 'Clear All the Rest of the Way (Backwaters Press/U. of Nebraska Press). He has received fellowships in poetry from the NEA, The McKnight Foundation and the Wisconsin Arts Board. He lives in Minneapolis and works as a biotech patent attorney.