Steinmetz at Thunderdome

Susan Blackwell Ramsey

All over the dome they cling to cheer on Tesla

       tossing balls of flickering light, and here,

dragging Patent, his club, comes Edison.

       No one notices the dwarf riding his back

because at a lumbering run he takes a swipe

       at nimble Nickolai who bungees up

out of danger, dove wings fluttering.

The betting’s heavy, safe money on the giant,

       but some engineers have a lurking fondness

for sparkle over plod. As for the kids,

       well, Tesla was a genius, right? And failed,

so when they fail, that makes them geniuses!

       And who doesn't love a mad scientist?

Besides, check your folklore. Giants never win.

But something's wrong. The lights are fading out

       inside those balls, though Tesla’s juggling faster,

and there’s a growing smell of overheating.

       Just as the last light dies there’s movement from

the giant’s rider and a lightning bolt

       whiteblinds and deafens us

                                       and Tesla’s gone.

The generators hum, a warm light grows

       and we see Steinmetz directing Edison,

Steinmetz of the cigar, the beard, the smile

       who, unlike Tesla, knew how to make things work.

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