In the Park, V-J Night

“Fuck me, honey, fuck me, please,” Shirley

Asked, more than squirming underneath me

In the park, drunk, as I was drunk, both

Celebrating, if getting drunk fast

Is what you do when a war ends, not aware

At all of what two atomic bombs had done

To Hiroshima, Nagasaki, strange names only

Headlines, bold.

I wanted to, but didn’t dare.

The whole town was dancing in that park, all

Drunk, too, but they still had eyes, and I

Still had my own eyes, so couldn’t, didn’t.

Shirley dropped me a week later, wouldn’t

Come to the phone.  I guessed it was because

Her boy-friend was coming home from the Navy.

But some of her lovely honey still sticks on me

Drips, saying I made a mistake in the park

That night, in the welcoming exulting August

Grass, green, furry, warm, as Shirley was,

Not yet know “we won the war” by dumping

Fast sizzling, printable death (with echoes

Sounding still) on places packed with people,

And so easily, almost casually,

as the loud folks

In the park would have glazed on Shirley

And me, a couple of kids, doing what we didn’t.

Nothing to see.

Shirley and I were as torrid

And young as those bombs, but their flash was aimed.

(8/15/45 – 2/1/94)

from Touch: Poems

Commentary: As with many of my poems, this one came from sleep.  I awoke one morning hearing the voice of the first line loud and clear, a voice I had not heard for nearly fifty years, but authentic, it was Shirley’s voice, indeed.  And it cast me back to what had happened (or didn’t) on August 15th, 1945.

And that made me need to recapture the whole meaning of what “we won the war” meant in its whole.  Kids like Shirley and me – and I think everyone else in the park regardless of age – did not know what those two atomic bombs had done, we couldn’t have.  Yet in time we realized what monstrous attacks had done in our name.  Guiltless, in one sense, we are all guilty, and that black hand on our shoulders insists that nothing like that should happen again.

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One thought on “In the Park, V-J Night

  1. What an interesting poem. I’ll agree that this poem has a reckless delirium to it, much like what one faces when coming out of a deep sleep or trance.
    Good job. I shall look for more of your poetry to read.

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