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Originally published April 1, 2012 at 6:54 PM | Page modified April 1, 2012 at 7:11 PM

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Kathleen Flenniken's poem 'To Carolyn's Father'

Kathleen Flenniken's poem "To Carolyn's Father" is a tribute to her best friend's father in Richland, who died of radiation-related disease.

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TO CAROLYN'S FATHER

— Thomas Jerry Deen, 1929-1988

On the morning I got plucked out of third grade

by Principal Wellman because I'd written on command

an impassioned letter for the life of our nuclear plants

that the government threatened to shut down

and I put on my rabbit-trimmed green plaid coat

because it was cold and I'd be on the televised news

overseeing delivery of several hundred pounds of mail

onto an airplane bound for Washington DC addressed

to President Nixon who obviously didn't care about your job

at the same time inside your marrow

blood cells began to err one moment efficient the next

a few gone wrong stunned by exposure to radiation

as you milled uranium into slugs or swabbed down

train cars or reported to B Reactor for a quick run-in-

run-out and by that morning Mr. Deen

the poisoning of your blood had already begun

Kathleen Flenniken

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