Before I Leave This World

I was thinking about the terrible scare recently in Hawaii when an alert was sent in error about a missile threat. Of course there was widespread panic for close to forty minutes. I wondered “how would I react?” Playing out an imaginary scenario is totally different from reacting to a real one, however it does help to look at the situation while in a cool frame of mind. A nuclear threat is as real today as it was in the early sixties during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the East coast was in a direct line for a hit. I remember lining up in our grammar school hallway, away from windows, with our arms crossed over our heads. Ever the realist even at that time, I figured that we were doomed, so what’s the point of false hope and false safety? The only way to survive is to hide/take cover in a real bomb shelter. Ever the realist to this day—that is not a choice or an option for me.

So what would I do?

My first thought is that I would make myself a bourbon sour or smoke a joint (if I had one), turn on some great blues music, hug the dog and head outside. I would want to face the sky. I have a wooden seat swing that overlooks my garden, and the thought of rocking slowly with a light buzz gives me great comfort. I would probably converse out loud with the trees and cosmos. Some words would be of gratitude and some would be profane. I do believe that I would surrender to the inevitable, and hope that I would be in the direct line of fire instead of a survivor. This in turn brings to mind and closer to home/heart —the very real horror and tragedy of Hiroshima. Somehow life went on, albeit forever changed.

The honest truth is that I cannot know in reality what I would truly do, however after all of this, when I slowly rock in my chair swing, I will do it with a grateful rhythm.

The following haiku of mine were written in 2011 about Hiroshima:

heat from the bomb
the charred near the water
left black and bleeding

~

a baby trying
to nurse her dead mother’s breast
questions of why

~

the bomb
a moral threshold
crossed

~

unmoving
always changing
blue and white

~

and today’s haiku:

grateful or profane a blue sky

© ag ~ 2018

 

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The Newark Riots ~ 50 Years Later

This week marks the 50th anniversary of a very sad time – the Newark riots. I remember them well. There was a curfew, and when I looked out our apartment window – National Guardsmen rode by in a jeep with rifles leaning against their chests. I was nowhere near the terror-stricken interior but inhaled the tension. This was my home city, and I was 14 years old. I wrote these tanka poems in hindsight and they were published by Modern English Tanka Press in 2009, 40 years after the fact. Newark still suffers:
 ~
forty years
after the riots
three students slain
“no apparent cause”
again, this blistering heat
~
born to love
born to hunt
we do what we do…
all the songs all the poems
nothing changes this
~
coming in on
a soft summer breeze
tickling my necking
and dropping down low —
this sadness for what
 ~
warm nights
I undress by an open
window   wondering
what is freely given
               freely taken
 ~
© Andrea Grillo