Don't Push My Buttons

By Charlotte Fox
10th grade, Julia R. Masterman High School, PA

With lines from "The Risk of Nuclear War With North Korea" by Evan Osnos, a Pulitzer Center reporting project

After a long pause, a skinny boy with two medals pinned to his chest stood and asked, "Why is America trying to provoke a war with us? And what right do they have to block us from building our own nuclear weapon?"

_ _ _ _

Two nations always locked and loaded
A missile launched over the Pacific Ocean
A warning launched back over social media
A back-and-forth of ultimatum, sanction, suspicion
Professional analysts tracking every carefully crafted public statement, or rash rebuttal
School-children wondering why their leaders aren't doing more to protect them
No moves, no maneuvers just fire and fury

What is it achieving?
This game of great risk
This competition of consequence
This duel of danger
If your country would be destroyed in a nuclear exchange, why are you really entertaining the idea?

How can you justify nuclear war?
Because "A lot of people would die. But not everyone would die"?
Because North Korea is the "axis of evil"?

"We want to achieve world peace,
but … we are prepared for war."

Is there peace in madness?
Is peace really peace
When strengthening our defensive military capacity is the only way to keep it
When leaders care more about outward appearance than inward turmoil
When one is under constant warning about American aggression
if peace were to
there is

There is no winner or loser in nuclear war
There is only total mutual destruction
Opponents in ideology bound to the same policy
"Nuh jukgo, nah jukja!"
"You die, I die!"

Read more winning entries from the 2018 Fighting Words Poetry Contest