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Syndic Literary Journal

Poetry by TAKI Yuriko


by TAKI Yuriko



(Translation by Deborah and John Saxon)

Those taken into the
Camp at Auschwitz
Were nonetheless blessed.

Their names had been
Replaced by numbers,
But they could be numbered
Among the dead
After a month or two.

When the Nazi doctor signaled to the right,
Everyone was immediately herded
To the incinerator.
The old, the infirm,
The children, the weak,
All were compelled to the right.

A kind and gentle voice
Led them to the gas chamber:
“Take a rest and shower.”

Whenever the camp
Became full,
That kindly voice again:
“Take a little break in here.”
Straight to the gas chamber.

After the dropping
Of the atomic bomb,
The dead whose
Corpses remained
Were nonetheless blessed.

For those whose bodies
Melted completely,
Leaving no trace,
Were never counted as missing.

For when an entire
Family or village disappears,
No one is left to look for them.


(Translation by John Saxon)

After the concurrent
9/11 terrorist attacks,
No bereaved family
Hoped for vengeance.

Neither vengeance,
Nor war,
But person-to-person
Understanding and peace.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb victims
Have not once in 62 years
Spoken of vengeance.
Nearly all say,
“Guilt overwhelms me
That only I remained alive
While my family, my friends
Melted instantly,
Or slowly writhed in agony,”
Before falling silent.

Recently, painfully,
They have spoken more:
“Let us be the last
To suffer such horrors.
Let no one experience this
Ever again.”

On that day,
It was ten times hotter than the sun.
The bomb pressure
Flung a child into the air, then
Slammed him to the ground,
Crushed under 35 tons/m2.

Even three kilometers away,
Faces melted and hair fell off.
Men and women became identical
As skin slid off their bodies
Like elbow-length ladies gloves.

A horse clopped about frantically,
Reared up and
Screeched its last.

The intense heat drove
Many into the river.
Their corpses became a raft
Reaching both banks.
A man trying to cross
Sank and disappeared
With the corpses.

Those left alive
Absorbed radiation
Producing chromosomal damage
That would pass on.
Bones crumbled,
White blood cell counts ran amok.

They say one in four
Considered suicide.

Make known their plight!
Hear the testimony
Of those who suffer
These invisible maladies!
Acknowledge those
Whose horrible conditions are revealed
Only in medical reports!

Let’s face this
Not as a government issue,
But as a human issue.

The Nagasaki and Hiroshima bomb victims
Married and gave birth,
Passing their suffering on
To their children and grandchildren.

Yet every bereaved family
And every war victim
Hopes not for vengeance,
But that their fellow humans
Will never do such a thing
Ever again.

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