FOR THOSE WHO CAME,
BUT COULD NOT STAY
While you and I were being born,
growing “in the little bread oven”…
as it was often said back then…
there were other little babies
across the world,
into real ovens,
and they were not allowed to grow any more.
Don’t tell me that that is the past
and none of our concern.
This is in cellular memory,
and we are here
to make certain that we speak
for those who were born and
who died before they could speak.
Don’t tell me that we have nothing to do with
what happened 57 and 65 years ago.
We know the 14th century too, and the plague.
We know of the Argonne and Ardennes,
and what happened there.
We know about Bataan and Armenia, and
about everything that has happened that never
should have happened if only a few more,
if only a few more could have awakened sooner.
Don’t tell me that was then and this is now;
Don’t get me started.
When we were being made,
there were other children being unmade
all across the world.
When you see the so-called ‘baby-boomers,’
remember they were the ones who survived.
Out of millions and millions
conceived and not yet born,
out of millions and millions born at that time.
the little ones walking and talking
all across the world,
we are some of the few children
who were not murdered,
who were not butchered
the very year we were made.
And all this counts for something important beyond time.
Were we not conceived in the war
during the midst of fire and explosions
and our fathers not coming home
and our grandmothers, our grandfathers wishing
they could jump into a grave somewhere themselves?
Were we not born in the midst of endless
flashing of fire in order to carry
the peace messages of
the begging dead?
No one of us still alive arrived without
a message, a set of exhortations.
It is not by accidental alchemy
that so many
of our generation are against war.
It is not by accident
that so many went to war
and want no more war ever again.
We were conceived in the midst
of blinding light, death everywhere.
For every ten born and killed there,
on this side
This counts for something,
a great and important something.
Some say there are so many of us:
So many boomers, the media says.
But if you are awake, you know
we are the few, not the many.
We are the few,
the very very few.
And the voices of the innocent dead
who ask to speak through us
cannot rest if we remain silent.
This poem was written to try to say a more clear and true fact about my generation’s precious lives than has previously been seen, defined or valued in pop culture. I think there is an over-arching and guiding archetypal motif attached to the destiny of each generation. I know the premise of this poem to my bones— that we of this particular generation were allowed, let to survive for a reason; that our child lives were some of the few that were spared worldwide during a time when innocent children were slaughtered wholesale worldwide. We survived. I believe this is why so many from this generation feel and know that our work is dedicated toward conciliation till the day we pass from this world. The flash of the bomb is upon us. The flash that killed so many of our generation across the world, but… and… also awakened others– the living amongst us– for life.
…. Argonne and Ardennes, Bataan and Armenia… are Western European, Philippine, and Asian sites of bloody battles and genocides during the 20th century.
Here too is a strong article Shinichi’s Trike & The Lessons Of War by Shaun Mullen, remembering this day and his vital journeys to the site Hiroshima. The photo at the top of this article is from his website. His article begins:
Shinichi Tetsutani loved to ride his beloved tricycle outside his house in Higashi-Hakushima-Cho, a neighborhood in the Japanese port city of Hiroshima.
Shin-chan, as his family called the three-year-old, was doing just that on the morning of August 6, 1945, when there was a brilliant flash in the sky.
The boy was about a quarter mile from the hypocenter of the detonation of the first nuclear weapon to be used in anger, the consequence of a frightening new technology that its creators were all too aware would change warfare — and civilization — forever by wreaking unimaginable death and destruction.
Shin died that night, one of about 140,000 people to perish… and… three days later, 74,000 people died from a second atom bomb dropped on Japan… But, Shin’s young father felt his little son was too little to be buried far from his family, and grimly wrapped his child as best he could in the ritual way, and buried his child along with his tricycle, in the earthen shelter behind where once stood their small home.
Forty years later in the summer of 1985, Shin’s father, now an old man, undertook the ritual preparations… and gently dug up Shinichi’s remains, transferring them to the family’s gravesite. The tricycle, as you see it above, was donated to the Peace Memorial Museum by the Tetsutani family, in honor of their boy and the others who died in the sudden flash of deathlight.