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Hiroshima: 37 Years After the Bomb

Updated on January 18, 2018
juneaukid profile image

Richard F. Fleck is author of two dozen books, his latest being Desert Rims to Mountains High and Thoreau & Muir Among the Native Americans.

Hiroshima International Peace Memorial
Hiroshima International Peace Memorial | Source

Hiroshima 37 years after the Bomb

Looking up into the sky

at that gaunt and gutted

City Hall glinting

sun rays off its naked beams

is to be in a Homeric hell

where spirits moan and howl.

At 8:15 all is well in

Hiroshima; street cars

rumble along Aioi Dori;

mothers and children walk their children

to the park after fathers

have left for work on a clear

August day; shopkeepers

start opening up while

soldiers clean and check

their rifles in the barracks;

sun glistens off Carp Castle,

and pine trees whisper in a

gentle wind above clear ponds

with golden fish; an old man

swills miso soup and a

young woman visits the graves

of her father and her husband

killed in this senseless war.





changes color from white to

blue with a ghastly cloud

rising up casting a dark shadow,

and oceans of flame burst out

like hot vomit spewing into

buildings pushing out windows

and walls with ancient scrolls

and exploding roof tiles fly

like hot shrapnel everywhere.

Instantly, a man is vaporized

leaving only his shadow on

stone steps of some bank.

A mother and child flee the

searing flames with their skin

dangling off their arms and faces.

A faceless person shrieks out

through his burning white teeth;

carp float in a boiling pond

belly-up with loose scales, and

eyeless pigeons bump into

burning trees...

And thirty-seven years later

we look up into the sky at that

gaunt and gutted City Hall

surrounded by brand new buildings

and rumbling city traffic.

Atomic bombs can kill in many

vicious ways but their

makers mistake a material

world for the real one deep

inside the human spirit.

No politician--no military

giant can destroy the very

sacred space occupied forever

by the invincible human soul.

I think I hear the faint rumble

of street cars along the Aioi Dori.

I originally published this poem in the Japanese journal Kansai Time Out in 1982.

Interested readers should go to Ibuse's fantastic book Black Rain.since the author survived the American attack.


Singing to the Rising Sun: A Year in Japan and More

© 2011 Richard Francis Fleck


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    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 6 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      True enough, especially after 3 nuclear disasters: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima, Daiichi power plants!

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 6 years ago

      Dear Richard ~ Poignant rendition of life stopped in its tracks by the horror of war and a blast from the depths of hell. How can humanity allow this to happen or contemplate it ever again? Now Japan lives with the aftermath of radiation and the nuclear plants leaking for the next 20-30 years. Man cannot contain this much power. Blessings, Debby

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 6 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Thanks, Dolores. Truly the bomb has deeply nicked our spirit. Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, who viewd the testing of the bomb in Alamagordo, New Mexico, said "we must never use this bomb on human beings!"

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      HI, Richard - while the bomb may have ended our war with Japan, the hugeness and the horror of our ability to destroy has left us with a terrible legacy. Your poem really says it all. Just beautiful despite the terrible subject matter.

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 6 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Some say, I should say many contend that it ended WWII much more quickly, but at what price to the human spirit?

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      A well worded poem which brings the reality right up. Treadful. How could anybody every do such a thing?

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 6 years ago from India

      The composition makes me feel simply like watching the video, At the end of the bombing, more than 220,000 people died from both bombs (The “Little boy” killed 140,000 people in Hiroshima). Then "Hiroshima", after 66 years now "Fukushima", what is next????

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 6 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Thank you Vinaya Ghimire and Chrisami01--I appreciate your comments. I will never forget our Jpanese friend who guided us through the Peace Memorial--all we ask, he said, is never to use that bomb again after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    • chrisam01 profile image

      chrisam01 6 years ago from Los Angeles, California, USA

      Great work! Voted up and I love the Homeric reference.

      Vinaya, I saw Hiroshima Mon Amor and I was thinking the same thing while reading this piece.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      This gives me a feeling of watching "Hiroshima Mon Amor"

      Good work!