Poem: Who is Hiroshima?

Photo: Osaka from the air after bombings

WHO IS HIROSHIMA?

It was no mushroom cloud. It wasn’t

When I speak……… WHO is Hiroshima? WHO owns its name?

What does its memory confront or continue?

The heavy boots of US American navy men, running off of their American boats onto the shores of Naha in Uchina, Yokohama, Tachikawa or Yokosuka—into the bars where the so-called ORIENTAL girls are there, ripe for their pickin’s and choosin’s. Attractions, games, bribes, collusions, rapes. The pliable and obedient oriental slaves. The imperial Japanese……watching, planning, bribing, stealing, Starved for food, comfort, defeated, wanting, Starving flesh.

No rule of law in Japan can touch Americans there. This started BEFORE Hiroshima was on the maps of any American. Before anyone else existed, all others are inferior.

What is Hiroshima? Who carries its name? Hiroshima overcrowds the real story, the real picture, the BIG picture.

Month after month //////// daily fire-bombings///// Tokyo, rubbles, stench……….. One month of the torture-fires at night came to Osaka where my mother was a child, forgotten now even in history books. It’s only a shadow of Hiroshima if that. Screams. Screams. Burnt flesh. Shanghai, Nanking Chinese cries under Japanese bombs. Now Tokyo under Americans.

Sirens, burning flesh, screaming, running, sweating/////// Quivering lips in bomb shelters…… Limb-flying explosions. The limbs without bodies….the end…the beginnings.

My mother the little girl—a nameless black-haired girl under flying, released, BOMBSsssssss /////

Her life supposedly never happened for neither the Japanese nor the Americans. Bone-rattling///Poundings, chemical-fires of the inside-out…….

Little GIRL survived…………the rats she ate in poverty, the hanging skin of her friends’ burnt flesh, the plea for food and water…..scrap metal roofs and trash for walls………never happened except in a warbride diary of someone else’s land. SHE was in OSAKA, Tokyo—NOT Hiroshima. And yet……..IT was Hiroshima we only utter….and remember. But as what?

It was another war////////// different from what Japanese say……….. Americans say……….burning.

I knew my mother as KIYOKO. She signed her name on her checks in the stucco red desert house……..Albuquerque. and there it was on her ID card: KIYOKO ……… written carefully, slowly, with flare by her aging hands. American military jeeps in her eyes and splinters of her friends’ bodies in her skin.

She practiced for three months everyday for one hour, to write her name in English.

Why did my FATHER, her husband, and my mother’s brother TERUO, call her EMIKO?

Over genmai-cha and osembe……I asked her at 27 /////////

She tells: Kiyoko is my sister’s name. She died in Hiroshima.

Our family papers were disappeared on AUGUST 6—you know—the JIGEN BAKUDAN. To marry your father, I needed papers.

She marries an American occupation soldier—a military policeman, just 16 years old, faking it so he can fight for the country that hates him in his own land–African-American, almost proud to be an American but this American…..is a promise and a hope, not real. Even as he was an occupation policeman with gun in hand, the lynching of black prisoners in the US military jails in Japan haunted him. He bears the only truth he knows.

I, as a son of the victor and the defeated ////////// Hiroshima is unending. Hiroshima covers all issues. Hiroshima was a wall of fire and 3000 degrees Celsius.

It was not a mushroom cloud. Blood. Scream. Flying. Death…..wall of fire.

I, the son of a Black and Yellow. I, must now…… Articulate this Place, in my body, everywhere.

Ghosts passed onto lands and dreams.

Soochow….Osaka…Tokyo…Yokohama…Tuskeegee…Nashville….Detroit….San Francisco Peace Treaty signed…then….A-bomb…Pyongyang….DaNang …Albuquerque….Stop. Listen.

When I speak………….. WHO is HIROSHIMA now?

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