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Chris Saitta Aug 2020
Maybe the darkest things are the truest things,
Death, the redoubtable lover of all, the atom bomb
Burns beneath cherry blossoms of closed eyelids,
A magnolia grove of forever fasting lips of the dead,
Pompeii and Hiroshima, twin lovers of rupture,
Graves of the wind now, keepers of nothing and all.
Michael R Burch May 2020
Hiroshima Poems

Let Us Be Midwives!
by Hiroshima survivor Sadako Kurihara
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Midnight . . .
the basement of a shattered building . . .
atomic bomb survivors sniveling in the darkness . . .
not a single candle between them . . .
the odor of blood . . .
the stench of death . . .
the sickly-sweet smell of decaying humanity . . .
the groans . . .
the moans . . .
Out of all that, suddenly, miraculously, a voice:
"The baby's coming!"
In the hellish basement, unexpectedly,
a young mother has gone into labor.
In the dark, lacking a single match, what to do?
Scrambling to her side,
forgetting themselves . . .

It appears that my translation above has been used by Hiroshima University in a new field of study called International Peace and Coexistence. I found my translation on the university’s Peace and Coexistence Facebook page. Being a longtime peace activist, I am particularly happy with the name of the course!

###

Now the remaining Hiroshima survivors are aging, and they must wonder what the world has learned from their harrowing ordeal:

See: whose surviving sons
visit the ancestral graves
white-bearded, with trembling canes?
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

###

We should always consider the fates of innocent children:

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.
―Michael R. Burch, "Epitaph for a Child of Hiroshima"

###

The intense heat and light of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb blasts left behind ghostly silhouettes of human beings whose lives were erased in an instant:

Hiroshima Shadows
by Michael R. Burch

Hiroshima shadows ... mother and child ...
Oh, when will our hearts ever be beguiled
to end mindless war ... to seek peace,
            reconciled
to our common mortality?

###

Poets remind us that we all share a common destiny:

Grasses wilt:
the braking locomotive
grinds to a halt
―Yamaguchi Seishi, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

###

Something
by Michael R. Burch

Something inescapable is lost―
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone―
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past―
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
and finality has swept into a corner where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

###

Frail Envelope of Flesh
by Michael R. Burch

Frail envelope of flesh,
lying cold on the surgeon’s table
with anguished eyes
like your mother’s eyes
and a heartbeat weak, unstable ...

Frail crucible of dust,
brief flower come to this―
your tiny hand
in your mother’s hand
for a last bewildered kiss ...

Brief mayfly of a child,
to live two artless years!
Now your mother’s lips
seal up your lips
from the Deluge of her tears ...

###

Lucifer, to the Enola Gay
by Michael R. Burch

Go then, and give them my meaning
so that their teeming
streets
become my city.

Bring back a pretty
flower,
a chrysanthemum,
perhaps, to bloom
if but an hour,
within a certain room
of mine
where
the sun does not rise or fall,
and the moon,
though it is content to shine,
helps nothing at all.

There,
if I hear the wistful call
of their voices
regretting choices
made
or perhaps not made
in time,
I can look back upon it and recall,
in all of its forms sublime,
still
Death will never be holy again.

###

The day the Cloud reigned
by Michael R. Burch

The sky was clear on Hiroshima,
sealing her fate.
The report of the weather plane,
neither early nor late,
was certainly plain.

The few innocuous clouds did not refrain
from abandoning the city.
Only the silence, monstrous in its complicity,
regarding man’s error
acknowledged the horror.

Only the small, astonished victims
understood the immaculate heavens:
the inconceivable light
igniting their bones;
the Cloud, all of a sudden,
billowing unbidden,
and then the apocalyptic rain
descending again and again.

So that where white chrysanthemums
had once whispered with bemused tongues
instantly only ashen ruins remained
the day the Cloud reigned.

###

War Close Up
by Hiroshima survivor Kurihara Sadako
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Stirring bugles! Rousing martial music!
The announcer reporting "victory"
like some messenger from on high,
fanning, fanning the fervored flames of battle!

Masterful state magicians materializing
in a wizardly procession,
spreading cleverly poisoned words
to bewilder reason!
Artistic expression abracadabra-ed into state-sponsored magic!

The sound of boots, guns, bombs, cannons
as our army advances, advances, advances toward the enemy!
The thunder of our invincible tanks advancing! Alleluia!
The sudden, sweet gurgles of drowning enemy ships!

The radio broadcasts the sounds of battle:
A war hymn resounding to the skies,
sung by courageous men and women
who worship this cruel idol, War.

Oh, so powerful the merest whiff
addles even the most independent spirit―
the ***** of patriotism!
the religion of race!

While on scenic islands
scattered like stepping stones across the globe,
and on farflung continents,
driven by boundless avarice,
the landlords rage and rave again,
instilling hatred in indigenous populations
then prodding, driving them into battle.
Full of high-sounding pretexts
inevitably adapted to expediency
they raise indisputable banners―
God is on our side!
Righteous war!
Holy war!

"Right" becomes the password of thieves.
They square their shoulders:
"To secure world peace
annihilate
the evil opponent!"

They bark commands:
"For ten years, a hundred years,
fight to the last man, the last woman!"
The master magicians' martial music
resounds magisterially;
fanatic bull-mad patriots
roar and run amok;
completely bewitched, the people carol in unison:
"O, let me die by the side of my sweet Sovereign!"

Keywords/Tags: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, atomic bomb, Japan, Japanese, translation, nukes, nuclear weapons, nuclear war, epitaph, child, children, mother, mothers, father, fathers, WWII, apocalypse, Armageddon
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
Lucifer, to the Enola Gay
by Michael R. Burch

Go then,
and give them my meaning
so that their teeming
streets
become my city.

Bring back a pretty
flower—
a chrysanthemum,
perhaps, to bloom
if but an hour,
within a certain room
of mine
where
the sun does not rise or fall,
and the moon,
although it is content to shine,
helps nothing at all.

There,
if I hear the wistful call
of their voices
regretting choices
made
or perhaps not made
in time,
I can look back upon it and recall,
in all
its pale forms sublime,
still
Death will never be holy again.

Published by Romantics Quarterly, Penny Dreadful and Poetry Life & Times. Keywords/Tags: Hiroshima, Enola Gay, atomic bomb, explosion, mushroom cloud, death, Lucifer, Satan, Devil, chrysanthemum, sun, moon, voices, choices
Michael R Burch Feb 2020
Something
―for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba
by Michael R. Burch

Something inescapable is lost—
lost like a pale vapor curling up into shafts of moonlight,
vanishing in a gust of wind toward an expanse of stars
immeasurable and void.

Something uncapturable is gone—
gone with the spent leaves and illuminations of autumn,
scattered into a haze with the faint rustle of parched grass
and remembrance.

Something unforgettable is past—
blown from a glimmer into nothingness, or less,
which finality swept into a corner, where it lies
in dust and cobwebs and silence.

It was my honor and privilege to work with survivors of the Holocaust and Hiroshima on translations of their poems and accounts into English. What they have told us is unutterably sad, and saddest of all is hearing about the lives of children being full of horror and terror, only to be cut short. Unfortunately today Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank are experiencing something similar, a modern Trail of Tears ...
Chris Saitta Nov 2019
Garden of Gethsemane, under your Mount of Olives,
The green-pitted translucence of night, where Christ,
Seer-in-knowing, writhes at the split seed of fission,
Break of night into the morning blossoms of Hiroshima’s ash,
Of mercurochrome and zinc oxides and the red snow of skin,
And his resurrection, forever once-again, in atomic flash,
The smells of honeysuckle and hay of manger,
And his breath of molten potash.
Chris Saitta May 2019
Love beneath the linden tree,
The blue touchpaper of fingers entwined,
And sunsets of ignis fatui,
The lightning wick of lips and the caroming atom,
That once held faces,
All but sear and blast wind and howl of eyes,
All of love adrift.
“Hibakujumoku” means survivor tree or A-bombed tree in Japanese.  The linden tree, Tilia miqueliana, is one such tree in Hiroshima, and a Linden Tree Monument exists at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
Aleph Apr 2019
The barren   landscape sends me shivers
Further enhanced by the total obliteration
The presence of ghosts still lingers
So many years after the detonation

All this desolation pictures
Like a scene from the apocalypse scriptures
A pale nuclear shadow projected eternally
The perpetual loss of harmony

A remnant showing us our absurdity
Was vaporised by the obfuscating bright
The ashen picture is the last goodbye
Relic of the tremendous light
My moods darken I want to cry

This is the last trace of a human being
a son of someone
prevented from further ageing
That from fate couldn’t run

Like a permanent echo of the disaster
a visual silent scream
like a photograph of a dreadful dream
a shout that sends a warning to us all


As we wish to forget how the balance is frail
It’s easy to disregard the detail
and be united by the same fate
that destruction at an even greater scale
it’s yet a threat  not out of date
pictures of Hiroshima darkened my mood, the nuclear shadow pic, made me gloomy, some words of respect and warning echoed inside
Louisa Coller Dec 2018
I can imagine,
trees, ponds, fish and oleanders
but I can't begin
to hold you tightly enough,
the anguish remains crafted.
the cold smile of a
fragmented mouth &
a field of cotton
defying the god's ordinance.

Desperate visions of
flushed faces and
dreams of Hiroshima
breathing its own breath.
One crow after another,
dancing down the
old spiral stairs of poverty.
Roasted along with
regular cheese
and
with an ounce of crippled green peas!

A vegan in disguise
trembling like a cooking egg!



- Samar Charulingah Godfrey
George Cheese Aug 2018
The blast woke that great and terrible monster,
Godzilla, from his slumber
at the bottom
of those darkest depths,
titanic nuclear thing unfurling
at the heart of the abyss.

Reptillian eyes glimmered in the murk.
Stretching out his arms and legs,
beating his tail against the ocean floor,
Godzilla began to swim towards the city.

Godzilla stopped sleeping. The whole world
seemed rife with opportunity,
profits to be had.
And, in the darkness of night,
Godzilla stomped his way towards the city.

Godzilla got a new motorbike.
The engine’s roar soothed him,
for a time.
And, in the darkness of night,
Godzilla stomped his way towards the city.

Godzilla found another woman to use,
his reptilian desire overcoming
whatever remained of his humanity.
And, in the darkness of night,
Godzilla towered over the border of the city.

And, in the darkness of night,
Godzilla’s throat began to glow.
Sizzling blue fire crackled in his mouth,
and then the city was dust and shadows,
a Hiroshima ghost.
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