This poem is from the April 2, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by ellenmillion. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.
Nobody believed in fairytales anymore.
The Age of Reason had put an end to that
and in the Atomic Age people saw things in a new light.
Then ... something happened.
A herd of mustangs
drank from a contaminated spring
in the Nevada desert
and became kelpies, pookas,
hellsteeds of the Wild Hunt.
From the ashes of Nagasaki
rose the oni with horns and claws
and akateko reaching red hands from trees;
later, after Fukushima, there came
mermaids with poisonous flesh.
In the woods around Chernobyl,
the bozalosc stepped shrieking out of birch trees
and rarog the monster-hawk swooped from the sky.
From the little silver streams there came
the ticklesome, fatal fingers of the rusalka.
There was no shortage
of guilty souls to go around.
They were like deer that had never been hunted,
ignorant of the danger and convinced
that their science would somehow save them.
The monsters out of folklore
munched their way through suburbs and cities.
The Unseleigh Court opened its gates
for the Wild Hunt to ride forth.
The Hunt took the scent of a man
who supervised a nuclear power plant.
He stood in the parking lot, shaking,
staring at a scene out of myth and mayhem.
"You don't exist!" he said in a wavering voice.
"You don't belong here!"
The Huntsman threw back his antlered head
and laughed with the sound of funeral bells.
"Are we not your nightmares?" he cried,
flinging a clawed hand toward the steaming tower.
"Did you think we would not find you
by the beacon of this curséd light?"
Then he lowered the point of his gleaming spear
to point at the heart of the cowering man.
"Little prey," said the Huntsman,
"you had better run."
* * *
The Age of Reason in the eighteenth century focused on science and rationality, instead of the superstition favored in the Middle Ages.
The Atomic Age began with the detonation of the first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945.
Kelpie, Pooka, and Hellsteed are three types of equine fey.
Nagasaki was one of the Japanese cities hit with an atomic bomb. The other was Hiroshima.
Oni and Akateko are Japanese spirits.
Fukushima was the site of a nuclear accident that released a large quantity of contaminants into the ocean.
Chernobyl was the site of a major nuclear accident in Ukraine, then part of the USSR.
Bozalosc, Rarog, and Rusalka are creatures from Russian folklore.
The Unseleigh Court and the Wild Hunt come from Celtic lore, although they have spread farther.