Thoughts on the bomb #poetry #poem

VE Day 8th May 1945

(In 1945 my father was in Wales, training to join the assault troops for Japan; his celebrations were muted and he said how he hoped he would see VJ Day too but expected he wouldn’t survive. Then the Allies dropped two atomic bombs – fat boy and little man – and the war was over. But at what a cost)

Excitement unconstrained
A continent free of its chains
But he cannot celebrate

Little flags like victory swallows
Flutter above good hearted fellows
Whose cheers increase the ache

This rolling back of a nation’s pain
Allows all to enjoy the summer again
Except for those who cannot partake

He’s young and bold, keen to fight
He loves to party, but that’s not right
So he stands aloof, for the nation’s sake

Ready now to fly due east
To join the troops to tame the beast
Whose goal will be his spirit to break

He’d like to stay to share the love
And hopes the hawks will be killed by doves
And a way be found, a peace to make

But the chosen way, a fat boy’s curse
He couldn’t imagine anything worse
Vaporised like fat on a searing steak.

Decades pass and summers run
And victory’s praises heaped on this nation’s son
Remain so very hard to take.

This poem comes from a combination of inspirations, including Esther Newton’s weekly poetry prompt, here,  and takes some liberties with my father’s memory – sorry dad.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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21 Responses to Thoughts on the bomb #poetry #poem

  1. colinandray says:

    I was going to respond, but it is difficult. Most of us abhor the holocaust, and yet ethnic cleansing is still going on. Most of us feel a degree of shock when we see/read/hear about the legacy from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and yet nuclear weaponry is still considered necessary to preserve peace. I have yet to hear an argument that supports the ideology that one can fight for peace. Of course, transgressors can be killed but, inevitably, fighting simply breeds more contempt and a desire to rearm for the future. Perhaps if the various multi-million dollar defense budgets were spent on researching the causes of the discontent, and then taking steps to address them, we would not need to produce more weaponry. Sadly, we all know that a military action generally has a number of items on its agenda, only one of which is to kill the opponent.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My father was somewhere in the Pacific Ocean when the bombs were dropped. I understand some of the sentiment here. The celebrations were only about the end of WWII, not about the method used to achieve that goal. I was surprised to hear that Obama will travel to Hiroshima this month, the only sitting American president to do so. Shameful.

    Great piece, Geoff. A poignant reminder in verse. 💘

    Liked by 1 person

  3. esthernewton says:

    Wow! Very powerful, Geoff. Your talent for meaningful, strong writing is every bit as good as your talent for humorous writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. trifflepudling says:

    Survivor’s guilt? I expect he felt it should have been him, that at least he was a solider, unlike the ordinary people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I guess victory was also tinged with sorrow by families who had lost someone. There’s a piece in the Telegraph today which shows a map of London with, superimposed, spots on streets where bombs hit and where there must have been civilian casualties. Of course, this doesn’t relate to the war in the east but it was interesting. My dad was in Europe on VE Day and they’d just been told they must be prepared to go East but I think he was already so upset by what he’d seen and had to do in northern Europe that he wasn’t troubled by any kind of sorrow over the atom bomb – he was just relieved. What survivors had to walk round with in their heads for the rest of their lives is unimaginable.
    Sad little poem, but good.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      I agree. So much pain they just wanted an end but looking back I suspect some wondered at that end. The classic cop out of the end justifies the means was never in such stark relief.

      Liked by 1 person

      • trifflepudling says:

        As Autism Mom says, in the US it was seen as very much a US decision/action and in a Gallup poll a few days later 85% of US citizens agreed with it, apparently. Had there been an Allied invasion there, POWs in SE Asia were aware that they would be killed by their captors. Most people were tired of the 6 years overall of bloody fighting and felt that something drastic needed to be done. If you put yourself in their place, despite misgivings, you can see why it was felt that it was the ‘right’ thing to do. There were some unspeakable things going on over there. Imagine if all that had continued for another few years? They surely felt ambivalent about it and bad, but I’m sure it wasn’t an easy choice. Robert Oppenheimer never got over having been involved. They probably knew they were deceiving themselves. Now you look at it and the mind just boggles. I agree with you, it stands out starkly, but 70 years ago … .? People can be surprisingly harsh and unpitying.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        That’s why I said I was playing with his memory. He justified it as you have but also hated that he could

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Helen Jones says:

    My grandfather was just offshore when they dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, waiting as part of the invasion force. He told me there were posters on board his ship saying ‘expected Allied casualties: one million’ (had the planned land invasion gone ahead). Instead he became part of a liberation crew, going into the POW camps throughout Asia. He took photos of Hiroshima when they went ashore, including one of the famous domed building that is now a memorial – the rest was just a flattened sea of rubble. I think he found the whole thing very difficult to reconcile, and would never speak of what he saw in the camps.
    A lovely poem, Geoff, and a reminder of the cost of war.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Stunning. Heartfelt. Fantastic writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Autism Mom says:

    Oh that was a difficult read. I agree with Trifflepudling that your conveying the survivor’s guilt was well done.

    Something that stood out to me your describing the bombing as an Allied decision. In the U.S. (at least in my history classes) it was not really framed that way (even though of course it was a mutually-discussed decision) – it was primarily framed as a U.S. decision and a U.S. action.

    Survivor’s guilt?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is loaded subject matter isn’t it Geoff! I agree with all Colin said in his comment. Political rhetoric and national brainwashing are powerful tools of population enslavement for the war machine.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. merrildsmith says:

    Well done.
    Someone commented on a post I wrote today that there may be necessary wars, but no good ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your Dad won’t mind

    Like

  11. Pingback: My Weekly Writing Challenge | esthernewtonblog

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