I'm a correspondent of fellow poet John Bennett, whose email distro list I'm on. Likewise, for another email correspondent and fellow poet, Scott Watson. In both cases, these two poets have an unblinking dedication to truth as they see it. It has been an honor to publish the work of both poets previously, in print (Lilliput Review) and online (here at the Hut).
A little while back, two emails arrived in my box, one right after the other, Scott's first and then John's. First, I read Scott's powerful, devastating poem, IN PREPARATION FOR LOOKING AT AN A-BOMB. The poem, parenthetically, asks two very specific questions.
In his email, John passed along a quotation from Leo Tolstoy (On Good and Evil), which he saw a couple of weeks back (at the time he sent me the email, it was a day or two before) on the Writer's Almanac. In the quote, Tolstoy asks and, in a very real sense, answers, Scott's more specific questions.
I hasten to add that, in my mind, Scott's parenthetical questions were, in fact, rhetorical, Scott's sentiment being very similar to Tolstoy's own, all of which may be gleaned in his poem, if by implication.
Or it least my feeble brain made the segue. This may be a case of the reader, myself, being way off base. Be that as it may, I want to thank both folks for permission to reprint. See what you think when what they sent, poem and quotation, rub up, one against the other.
IN PREPARATION FOR LOOKING AT AN A-BOMB
[Why was Hiroshima chosen?]
tiny piece of one--is composed.
rational. Irrational too.
[Why was the A-bomb made?]
given took eons to evolve:
skin drips off mama melting river flames.
There must be something wrong with me
Tolstoy on good and evil...
"...In 1854, Tolstoy was promoted and sent to the front
to fight in the Crimean War. He was horrified by the violence of war, and in
1857, he witnessed a public execution in Paris, which affected him deeply as
well. He wrote:
"During my stay in Paris, the sight of an execution
revealed to me the instability of my superstitious belief in progress. When I
saw the head part from the body and how they thumped separately into the box, I
understood, not with my mind but with my whole being, that no theory of the
reasonableness of our present progress could justify this deed; and that though
everybody from the creation of the world had held it to be necessary, on
whatever theory, I knew it to be unnecessary and bad; and therefore the arbiter
of what is good and evil is not what people say and do, nor is it progress, but
it is my heart and I."
not a devil
not a saint...
just a sea slug
PS Click to learn how to contribute to Wednesday Haiku.
translated by David G. Lanoue