Mark Budman


So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim, and the
flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way to the tree of life.

MOAB bomb unleashes a devastating fireball that incinerates and vaporizes anything within 30
feet upon detonation.

After the first year, it was quiet. No one came except for a sabertooth, and a few cave bears.
Those were easy: the beasts are afraid of the flames. The son of Seth came, a curious boy; I
drove him off without singeing his eyebrows unlike I did for Cain. The Flood was a major
inconvenience. Hard to keep the flames under the water. A Moabite or two came. I wanted to tell
them I knew all their dirty laundry, and Lot’s daughters’ tricks, and that ‘Moab’ means “of her
father.” But their hearts melted and they ran. A Persian and a Macedonian shot arrows at me.
The shafts burned nicely in flight. A Saddam’s soldier tried to drive a tank. I cut off its tracks.

I whistled. I sung hymns. I composed sonnets. I drew lines in the sand.

Even before I was selected for the job, my patience was legendary among the angels. I switched
hands every decade and blinked once in a blue moon.

Now, I see a bomb the size of a whale falling toward me. Humans. Ever inventive.

‘Technologists,’ to coin a word.  I raise my sword.  If I cut off the whale’s fins, it will fall like a


Mark Budman was born in the former Soviet Union, and English is a second language for him.  His writing appeared or forthcoming in Witness, Five Points, Guernica/PEN, American Scholar, Huffington Post, World Literature Today, Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly, The London Magazine (UK), McSweeney’s, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. He is the publisher of the flash fiction magazine Vestal Review. His novel, My Life at First Try, was published by Counterpoint Press.

Editor’s Notes: MOAB is an acronym for Massive Ordnance Air Blast (also called the “Mother of All Bombs”), but is designated as GBU-43/B, is a twenty-two thousand pound, large-yield bomb, developed the Air Force Research Laboratory. When developed some said it was the most powerful American non-nuclear weapon. The bomb was first dropped in combat in the April 13, 2017 airstrike against an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant–Khorasan Province (ISIS) tunnel complex in Afghanistan (From Wikipedia and other sources).

The juxtaposition of MOAB with the Moabites in this prose poem is brilliant. “Biblical Places on Modern Maps: Jordan” (, together with territorial map of ISIS (, puts it in geographical perspective.

The image is of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast weapon on display outside the Air Force Armament Museum, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

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3 Responses to MOAB

  1. James Tynes says:

    Great poem, Mark.

  2. Jason Strauss says:

    Very interesting idea to take the perspective of the angels guarding the garden. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Gene says:

    Creative, the perspective of the angel is nothing short of awesome.

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