from THE SEVEN HELLS OF JIGOKU ZOSHI
by Jerome Rothenberg
THE SEVENTH HELL: of smoke, where fire-raisers try in
vain to escape from a shower
of hot sand falling from a cloud
The Houses of men are on fire
Pity the dead in their graves
& the homes of the living
Pity the roofbeams whose waters burn till they're ash
Pity the old clouds devoured by the clouds of hot sand
& the sweat that's drawn out of metals pity that too
Pity the teeth robbed of gold
The bones when their skin falls away
Pity man's cry when the sun the sun is born in his cities
& the thunder breaks down his door
& pity the rain
For the rain falls on the deserts of man & is lost
If the mind is a house that has fallen
Where will the eye find rest
The images rise from the marrow & cry in the blood
Pity man's voice in the smoke-filled days
& his eyes in the darkness
Pity the sight of his eyes
For what can a man see in the darkness
What can he see but the children's bones & the black bones buried
But the places between spaces & the places of sand
& the places of black teeth
The faraway places
The black sand carried & the black bones buried
The black veins hanging from the open skin
& the blood changed to glass in the night
The eye of man is on fire
A green bird cries from his house
& opens a red eye to death
The sun drops out of a pine tree
Brushing the earth with its wings
For what can a man see in the morning
What can he see but the fire-raisers
The shadow of the fire-raisers lost in the smoke
The shadow of the smoke where the hot sand is falling
The fire-raisers putting a torch to their arms
The green smoke ascending
Pity the children of man
Pity their bones when the skin falls away
Pity the skin devoured by fire
The fire devoured by fire
The mind of man is on fire
& where will his eye find rest
MY BEAUTIFUL HIROSHIMA TEACHER
By Keiko Matsui Gibson
Crimson sunset in Lake Michigan.
I think of a beautiful woman
in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped.
Was she fortunate not to be killed
with the 200,000 others?
Was she fortunate to stay alive?
crushed her breath
she went out
she woke far off
stuck all over
with broken glass
she couldn't scream
in blood and pain
no word would do
or will ever do
she felt the end of the world
Fujiko is more beautiful because of her scars
Fujiko is more beautiful because many men and women have loved her
Fujiko is more beautiful because she has lived alone
Fujiko is more beautiful because she has taught many students
Fujiko is more beautiful because she has always
Fujiko is more beautiful because she plans to live
in a tiny farmhouse there
Fujiko is more beautiful because she does not fear
the inevitable cancer
Fujiko is more beautiful because of her peace
The wormy scar on her neck
tells the folly of history.
by David Meltzer
- Left in a flash
a shadow on the floor
* * *
- Can't tell you anything
You haven't heard
Before I say it O
God O YHWH O Plutonium
At tongue tip
Tasting hair of burning ghosts
Noh play mask
Whose mouth and eye holes
Smoke from within
A mutilated chanter declares an ancient text.
Can't sing You anything O
Supreme Ether O Supine
River of particles
Heavy with atomic waste
Bends down this praiser
In disconnected prayer
Opens my throat
First light slice craves a city apart
Carries it away in fire beyond
The fire mystics rise to
Chaste in hope to reach the end
of language   Can't
tell you how wasted devotional seed
bleeds from eyes
ash in skull
first blast last sight
night sky burns daylight
this Brooklyn boy tries reading secrets
A-Bomb embedded in my mind
a talisman against history
soldiers knocking on a door
to take away survivors
by Karl Young
the warmth of your body deformed bicycle green in the twilight anonymous ashes in the river at dawn storm of burnt iron river remembers rain panics ocean turns deadly at twilight boredom falls as if it mattered morality sinks in the film twisted barns asphalt at noon sand bars long for schedules the navigation of infinitesimal mirrors eternity screams on its birthday trucks hide their shadows child of neon hungry cellars in the darkness gray shame aroused by the hours a wife in the mountains a husband in a fishing boat a child in the emptiness of another dawn the bitter river turns its face soft light on betrayal bridge to hair walls bleed rooms claw the sky fear cries alone in the sunlight saltpeter tastes the skin of the bells disgrace acts out the clicking of nails gardens of rust forget the cold twilight the faucet answers bottle caps collect fearful dust the river's hands reach for burns children of the river drink the gray sky the children of the sky sink in the river the river is reason the children of agony ask for reason the river vanishes clusters of petrified promises carpeted with flowers wild iris tortured iron dawn watches noon waits sunset makes promises bells ring in the darkness the temperature of warm oceans
The vocabulary for this poem was drawn from English equivalents of French words in Gustave Flaubert's Trois contes and Marguerite Duras's Hiroshima, mon amour.
Written in June and July, 1990 for the International Shadows Project; revised July, 1991.
"The Seven Hells of Jigoku Zoshi" copyright 1990 by Jerome Rothenberg.
"My Beautiful Hiroshima Teacher" copyright 1990 by Keiko Matsui Gibson.
"Two Poems" copyright 1990 by David Meltzer.
"Three, Hiroshima" copyright 1990 and 1991 by Karl Young. First published in World's Edge, an English Language Japanese publication edited by Sherry Reniker.
Press here to go to samples of mail art from the
Press here to go to a survey of the show, with panorama of works in place on walls.
Press here to go to a list of contributors to the 1990 show.
Press here to go to an essay on Shadows Projects by Karl Young.
International Shadows Project home page.
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