Rusted barbwire as tall as a man

by some nameless government road

where a deer’s body has no time to cool.

Buildings hidden within the tree line

with faceless researchers who know so much

they know nothing.

Ghostly soldiers watch with phantom eyes,

weapons snug against their person.

There was a sickness within the borders

created to hold in 

the city’s truths.  

Conspiracies spoken by the raving masses. 

Don’t eat the fish you pull from the water.

This poem is excerpted from “The Manhattan Project,” a chapbook manuscript depicting the locale and history of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Known as “The City Behind the Fence” and “The Secret City,” Oak Ridge was the home of the atomic bomb and about 30,000 citizens of multigenerational families: a city laid in the shadow of the horrific events from World War II. Using found information, reference material, and personal narrative, the poems from this manuscript have been constructed to detail the city’s history, mystery and cynicism. The speaker’s voice is the voice of the city.

Amanda Owens

Amanda Owens is graduating from Cumberland University with a degree in English and a minor in Creative Writing. Her manuscript, "The Manhattan Project," focusing on her native city of Oak Ridge, was completed as a Senior Project with advisor Sandee Gertz. She will be working as an emergency services dispatcher after graduation, continuing to write in her spare time.

NOVUS Literary and Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN