The Magnificent Zazel
by Clarence Wolfshohl

The First Human Cannonball

No explosion—
no powder tamped down
the sixteen-inch barrel,
no fuse lit like a fizzing
sparkler growing shorter
as drums rolled,
no combustion
and hot-footed thrust
to sear Zazel’s soles
as she spiraled along
the bore into trajectory.

The salvo was theatrical
with smoke to mask the spring
that launched the fourteen-
year old Rosa Richter thirty feet through
the early April air
of 1877 London.

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