[xmca] Re: Hiroshima memory

From: David Daniel Preiss Contreras (davidpreiss@puc.cl)
Date: Sat Aug 06 2005 - 13:42:29 PDT

Thought these poems by Chilean poet Óscar Hahn would add more to the
commemoration of Hiroshima. Spanish originals are included.



Entering the city on the high tide
I saw the great beast in its red being
I entered at full light on a tide of love
I entered into myself and discovered my own pain
A sun white-hot inside me
kept growing and not growing over and over
and the spirit with its heat-hordes
held itself in and watched itself catch fire
burning in the most secret halo of fire
I watched my body float in living flame
and in the midst of pain and silence
it sank from sight and lost itself in salt
entering the city on a tide of love
entering the city on the high tide

Vision of Hiroshima

Eye in the multifaceted eye of the bomb,
dissolving under the living mushroom.
With the splendor of Man the Unseeing, eye and eye.
The old ones fled, beheaded by the fire,
angels were-stranded on sulfuric horns,
beheaded by the fire.
virgins descended with radioactive halos
beheaded by the fire.
All the children wandered away, beheaded by the sky.
It was not the pitted eye, the ravaged skin,
the blood on the melted street that we saw:
it was lovers surprised in the act
petrified in the magnesium of hell,
lovers turned to stone on the highway,
and Lot’s wife
turned to a column of uranium.
The heated hospital runs out through the sewers,
your frozen heart runs through the latrines,
skitters on all fours under the beds,
like green, incendiary cats
that wail out ashes.
The vibrating waters turn the crow white
and now you cannot forget that skin stuck to the wall
for you will drink, disintegrating, milk out of ashes.
We saw cupolas turn to fire,
orange rivers graze, child-bearing bridges
give birth in the midst of silence.
he strident color tore the heart
out of its very objects:
blood-crimson, leukemia-pink,
tormented wax-red, driven mad by fission.
Oil tore the toes from feet,
chairs beat at the windows,
floating on undercurrents of eyes.

Ciudad en llamas

Entrando en la ciudad por alta mar
la grande bestia vi su rojo ser
Entré por alta luz por alto amor
entréme y encontréme padecer
Un sol al rojo blanco en mi interior
crecía y no crecía sin cesar
y el alma con las hordas del calor
templóse y contemplóse crepitar
Ardiendo el más secreto alrededor
mi cuerpo en llamas vivas vi flotar
y en medio del silencio y del dolor
hundióse y confundióse con la sal:
entrando en la ciudad por alto amor
entrando en la ciudad por alta mar

Visión de Hiroshima

Ojo con el ojo numeroso de la bomba,
que se desata bajo el hongo vivo.
Con el fulgor del Hombre no vidente, ojo y ojo.
Los ancianos huían decapitados por el fuego,
encallaban los ángeles en cuernos sulfúricos
decapitados por el fuego.
se varaban las vírgenes de aureola radiactiva
decapitadas por el fuego.
Todos los niños emigraban decapitados por el cielo.
No el ojo manco, no la piel tullida, no sangre
sobre la calle derretida vimos:
los amantes sorprendidos en la cópula,
petrificados por el magnésium del infierno,
los amantes inmóviles en la vía pública,
y la mujer de Lot
convertida en columna de uranio.
El hospital caliente se va por los desagües,
se va por las letrinas tu corazón helado,
se van a gatas por debajo de las camas,
se van a g atas verdes e incendiadas
que maúllan cenizas.
La vibración de las aguas hace blanquear al cuervo
y ya no puedes olvidar esa piel adherida a los muros
porque derrumbamiento beberás, leche en escombros.
Vimos las cúpulas fosforecer, los ríos
anaranjados pastar, los puentes preñados
parir en medio del silencio.
El color estridente desgarraba
el corazón de sus propios objetos:
el rojo sangre, el rosado leucemia,
el lacre llaga, enloquecidos por la fisión.
El aceite nos arrancaba los dedos de los pies,
las sillas golpeaban las ventanas
flotando en marejadas de ojos.

Óscar Hahn

Published in "Review", © by Oscar Hahn Translated by Alastair Reid Used by
permission of the author Note on the author: Óscar Hahn, born in Chile 1938
teaches literature at the University of Iowa


Mike Cole writes:

> Thanks for reminding us of August 6th, David. There are war crimes and war
> crimes. This one was a whopper. David Kennedy, former president
> of Stanford, wrote recently about the way that the US and Britain began
> targeting civilians to win a war in the 1940's-- the fire bombing of Dresden
> commemorated by Vonnegut in *Slaughterhouse 5* was an example. As the
> attached article indicates, 95% of the victims in Hiroshima were
> noncombatants and the US justification is badly compromised.
> Violence begets violence. In phylogeny, cultural history, ontogeny and
> microgenesis.
> :-(
> mike
> On 8/5/05, David Preiss <davidpreiss@puc.cl> wrote:
>> XMCArs,
>> Worth reading.
>> David
>> 'I wouldn't hesitate if I had the choice'
>> August 6, 2005
>> Paul Tibbets dropped the devastating bombs from the Enola Gay as it flew
>> over Japan and, he tells Studs Terkel, he'd do it all again if he had to.
>> One day [in September 1944] I'm running a test on a B-29. I land. A man
>> meets me. He says he just got a call from General Uzal Ent [commander of the
>> Second Air Force] at Colorado Springs, he wants me in his office the next
>> morning at 9 o'clock. He said: "Bring your clothing - your B4 bag - because
>> you're not coming back." Well, I didn't know what it was and didn't pay any
>> attention to it - it was just another assignment.
>> I got to Colorado Springs the next morning perfectly on time. A man named
>> Lansdale met me, walked me to General Ent's office and closed the door
>> behind me. With him was a US Navy captain - that was William Parsons, who
>> flew with me to Hiroshima - and Dr Norman Ramsey, Columbia University
>> professor in nuclear physics. And Norman said: "OK, we've got what we call
>> the Manhattan Project. What we're doing is trying to develop an atomic bomb.
>> We've gotten to the point now where we can't go much further till we have
>> aeroplanes to work with."
>> He gave me an explanation that probably lasted 45, 50 minutes, and they
>> left. General Ent looked at me and said: "The other day, General Arnold
>> [commander-general of the Army Air Corps] offered me three names." Both of
>> the others were full colonels; I was lieutenant-colonel. He said that when
>> General Arnold asked which of them could do this atomic weapons deal, he
>> replied without hesitation: "Paul Tibbets is the man to do it." I said:
>> "Well, thank you, sir." Then he laid out what was going on and it was up to
>> me now to put together an organisation and train them to drop atomic weapons
>> on both Europe and the Pacific - Tokyo.
>> My edict was as clear as could be. Drop simultaneously in Europe and the
>> Pacific because of the secrecy problem - you couldn't drop it in one part of
>> the world without dropping it in the other. And so he said: "I don't know
>> what to tell you, but I know you happen to have B-29s to start with. I've
>> got a squadron in training in Nebraska - they have the best record of
>> anybody we've got. I want you to go visit them, look at them, talk to them,
>> do whatever you want. If they don't suit you, we'll get you some more."
>> He said: "There's nobody could tell you what you have to do because nobody
>> knows. If we can do anything to help you, ask me. Paul, be careful how you
>> treat this responsibility, because if you're successful you'll probably be
>> called a hero. And if you're unsuccessful, you might wind up in prison."
>> I think I went to Los Alamos [the Manhattan Project headquarters] three
>> times, and each time I got to see Dr Robert Oppenheimer [senior scientist on
>> the project] working in his own environment. Later, thinking about it,
>> here's a young man, a brilliant person. And he's a chain smoker and he
>> drinks cocktails. And he hates fat men. And General Leslie Groves [the
>> general in charge of the Manhattan Project], he's a fat man, and he hates
>> people who smoke and drink. The two of them are the first, original odd
>> couple.
>> Dr Ramsey said the only thing we can tell you about it is it's going to
>> explode with the force of 20,000 tons of TNT. I'd never seen a pound of TNT
>> blow up. I'd never heard of anybody who'd seen 100 pounds of TNT blow up.
>> All I felt was that this was gonna be one hell of a big bang.
>> I think the two bombs that we used [at Hiroshima and Nagasaki] had more
>> power than all the bombs the air force had used during the war on Europe.
>> Even though it was still theory, whatever those guys told me, that's what
>> happened. So I was ready to say I wanted to go to war, but I wanted to ask
>> Oppenheimer how to get away from the bomb after we dropped it. I told him
>> that when we had dropped bombs in Europe and North Africa, we'd flown
>> straight ahead after dropping them - which is also the trajectory of the
>> bomb. But what should we do this time? He said: "You can't fly straight
>> ahead because you'd be right over the top when it blows up and nobody would
>> ever know you were there." He said I had to turn tangent to the expanding
>> shock wave. I said: "Well, I've had some trigonometry, some physics. What is
>> tangency in this case?" He said it was 159 degrees in either direction.
>> "Turn 159 degrees as fast as you can and you'll be able to put yourself the
>> greatest distance from where the bomb exploded."
>> I had dropped enough practice bombs to realise that the charges would blow
>> around 1500 feet [about 460 metres] in the air, so I would have 40 to 42
>> seconds to turn 159 degrees. So I practised turning, steeper, steeper,
>> steeper, and I got it where I could pull it around in 40 seconds. The tail
>> was shaking dramatically and I was afraid of it breaking off, but I didn't
>> quit. That was my goal. And I practised and practised until, without even
>> thinking about it, I could do it in between 40 and 42, all the time.
>> We were in Tinian [US island base in the Pacific] at the time we got the
>> OK. They had sent this Norwegian to the weather station out on Guam [the
>> US's westernmost territory] and I had a copy of his report. We said that,
>> based on his forecast, the sixth day of August would be the best day that we
>> could get over Honshu [the island on which Hiroshima stands]. So we did
>> everything that had to be done to get the crews ready to go: aeroplane
>> loaded, crews briefed, all of the things checked that you have to check
>> before you can fly over enemy territory.
>> After we got the aeroplanes in formation I crawled into the tunnel and
>> went back to tell the men, I said: "You know what we're doing today?" They
>> said: "Well, yeah, we're going on a bombing mission." I said: "Yeah, we're
>> going on a bombing mission, but it's a little bit special." My tailgunner,
>> Bob Caron, was pretty alert. He said: "Colonel, we wouldn't be playing with
>> atoms today, would we?" I said: "Bob, you've got it just exactly right."
>> So I went back up in the front end and I told the navigator, bombardier,
>> flight engineer, in turn. I said: "OK, this is an atom bomb we're dropping."
>> They listened intently but I didn't see any change in their faces or
>> anything else. Those guys were no idiots. We'd been fiddling round with the
>> most peculiar-shaped things we'd ever seen.
>> So we're coming down. We get to that point where I say "one second", and
>> by the time I'd got that second out of my mouth the aeroplane had lurched,
>> because 10,000 pounds [about 4500 kilograms] had come out of the front. I'm
>> in this turn now, tight as I can get it, that helps me hold my altitude and
>> helps me hold my airspeed and everything else all the way round. When I
>> level out, the nose is a little bit high and as I look up there the whole
>> sky is lit up in the prettiest blues and pinks I've ever seen. It was just
>> great.
>> The shock wave was coming up at us after we turned. And the tailgunner
>> said: "Here it comes." About the time he said that, we got this kick in the
>> arse. I had accelerometers installed in all aeroplanes to record the
>> magnitude of the bomb. It hit us with 2½ G. Next day, when we got figures
>> from the scientists on what they had learned, they said: "When that bomb
>> exploded, your aeroplane was 10½ miles [17 kilometres] away from it."
>> You see all kinds of mushroom clouds, but they were made with different
>> types of bombs. The Hiroshima bomb did not make a mushroom. It was what I
>> call a stringer. It just came up. It was black as hell, and it had light and
>> colours and white in it and grey colour in it, and the top was like a
>> folded-up Christmas tree.
>> Terkel: Do you ever have any second thoughts about the bomb?
>> Tibbets: Second thoughts? No. No. 1, I got into the air corps to defend
>> the US to the best of my ability. That's what I believe in and that's what I
>> work for. No. 2, I'd had so much experience with aeroplanes … I put this
>> thing together with my own thoughts on how it should be because when I got
>> the directive, I was to be self-supporting at all times.
>> On the way to the target, I was thinking: I can't think of any mistakes
>> I've made. Maybe I did make a mistake; maybe I was too damned assured. At
>> 29, I was so shot in the arse with confidence I didn't think there was
>> anything I couldn't do. Of course, that applied to aeroplanes and people.
>> So, no, I had no problem with it. I knew we did the right thing. I thought,
>> yes, we're going to kill a lot of people, but by God we're going to save a
>> lot of lives. We won't have to invade [Japan].
>> Unknown to anybody else, there was a third one. See, the first bomb went
>> off and they didn't hear anything out of the Japanese for two or three days.
>> The second bomb was dropped and again they were silent for another couple of
>> days. Then I got a phone call from General Curtis LeMay [chief of staff of
>> the strategic air forces in the Pacific]. He said: "You got another one of
>> those damn things?" I said: "Yes, sir." He said: "Where is it?" I said:
>> "Over in Utah." He said: "Get it out here. You and your crew are going to
>> fly it." I sent word back and the crew loaded it on an aeroplane and we
>> headed back to bring it out to Tinian, and when they got it to the
>> California debarkation point, the war was over.
>> Terkel: Since September 11, what are your thoughts? People talk about
>> nukes, the hydrogen bomb?
>> Tibbets: I don't know any more about these terrorists than you do. When
>> they bombed the Trade Centre, I couldn't believe what was going on. We've
>> fought many enemies at different times. But we knew who they were and where
>> they were. These people, we don't know who they are or where they are.
>> That's the point that bothers me. Because they're gonna strike again, I'll
>> put money on it. And it's going to be damned dramatic. But they're gonna do
>> it in their own sweet time. We've got to get into a position where we can
>> kill the bastards. None of this business of taking them to court; the hell
>> with that. I wouldn't waste five seconds on them.
>> Terkel: When you hear people say: "Let's nuke 'em, let's nuke these
>> people," what do you think?
>> Tibbets: Oh, I wouldn't hesitate if I had the choice. I'd wipe 'em out.
>> You're gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we've never fought a
>> damn war anywhere in the world where they didn't kill innocent people. If
>> the newspapers would just cut out the shit: "You've killed so many
>> civilians." That's their tough luck for being there.
>> *This is an edited 2002 interview from The Guardian .*
>> *David Preiss***
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David D. Preiss
home page: http://pantheon.yale.edu/~ddp6/
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