The Radiowave Wasteland

"The Radiowave Wasteland" is a free-verse poem about a loss of connection and identity. I wrote it about the rift people can feel between their idealism or hope about themselves and their actual lives. The narrator is speaking to their real self from the perspective of their idealized self, which ends with a disconnect in their identities.

May 31, 2023

You’re in love with the radiowave wasteland,

(ripe radioheart, resonant radiomind;)

And you’ve lost your years there all your life.

(but you win your time.)

Somehow I never see you in the radiowave wasteland—

All I do is catch the sleeves of your friends,
murky in the cenotes, underwater echoing

<where? where?>

They argue with each other,
pretending like you to be some sort of detective, I am
always behind.

You shuffle around in the radiowave wasteland,
and you wish and watch and worship
your washed-out boulders.
I find the deep lodges of your steps
where you trudge—trip over your tracings
of the rocky borders already drawn.

                                         (you always fall.)

sometimes I grow impatient and peel back the eyes of storybooks to see you; beside the looming monoliths and lime-diseased moors,
you’re always in the picturebooks, beginnings, poured in the Lethe rivers.

                                           (you rush and wring with them,
weaving into watery fibers
that resemble a soul)
would you ever want to remember?

I want to take back your curious vitality—
that redoutable hope now presented so sparingly,
while you breathe smoke over the radiowave wasteland

                                             (your ghost’s lungs and ghost thoughts)

It’s true that you cannot remember the sound
of your own voice.

So I write you letters that tell you:
You had a brother, who showed you uranium, polonium
on Christmas morning in Sante Fe;
You love them
Because the radioactive wasteland arranged them into an array

                                           (your lovely ash bouquet.)

Spikes and sulfur-air, streams so sweet and sweltering—you’ve grown, over the years, so darling, so pretty

                                             awful, at remembering
that you are
in the radiowave wasteland.

So from someone else you always answer.


Julie Hatano is currently a senior at HBHS. She enjoys worldbuilding, playing violin and Minecraft, learning about history and mythology, and reading/writing. She will attend Bowdoin College in the fall for English and Music.

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