Home | About | Donate

The Atomic Bomb Poets and the Military Realists 75 Years After Nagasaki

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/09/atomic-bomb-poets-and-military-realists-75-years-after-nagasaki

1 Like

Russia recently announced that they would deem any missile headed towards their territory as a Nuclear missile and respond accordingly with overwhelming force.

US Military strategists still insist they could win a war with Russia with a first strike and or can make nuclear weapons more “usable” by designing warheads with smaller yields.

There a disconnect here that might well lead to the destruction of all. Lunatics are in charge.


If we must all die bringing “Peace” to this planet and it’s people, let it be so.


America had 3 MiIe IsIand in the 1970s----did we Iearn nothing then? Some mad idea came and that idea appeared to want to bury it aII at Yucca Mountain---------things Ieak—don’t they know that yet?
Apparently not as nuclear sites are stiII popuIar with many in government, and the nuclear sites stiII stand in CaIifornia–shut down—but stiII IethaI. But what of Chernobyl-----did we Iearn nothing then? But then---- sad, and more sad than I can even imagine, Japan has Fukushima----- a site stiII alive —yet imploding and how----how could this even happen?


Gandhi said much the same thing when he said: " let there be peace in the world starting with me". Gandhi went on to say that if you are not a person of peace, how can you ever hope for there ever to be peace in the world? And " BECOME THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD".


We would do the same thing if a missile headed our way, at least we HAVE to say so. If a nuclear armed nation doesn’t, they risk being hit repeatedly by non-nuclear weapons with possibly no way to respond. How does Syria for example respond to repeated Israeli attacks?

1 Like

Americans who support a nuclear armed America are not traitors to their country, but they’re definitely traitors to the human race. Just the fact that the American public has to fork over 1.7 trillion dollars to modernize an arsenal that z spermatozoon majority of Americans want to permanently dismantle, shows the huge disconnect between the 99% and the corporate CEO’s who dictate our governments policies.
It wasn’t like there was this national debate about whether we need the weapons or not, but rather another decision made behind closed doors by a handful of special interest groups. The extent of this violence (the imminent threat of nuclear war IS violence!) against the wishes of its citizenry, highlights the need for the people to permanently remove corporate sponsored politicians.
Let’s begin holding our politicians accountable. Demand that every politician states that they are either for the abolition of nuclear weapons or not. We deserve to know.


I am a nuclear veteran from the H-Bomb testing at Bikini Atoll in 1956. I have been anti-nuclear ever since. I offer a few of my poems in humble memory of those hundreds of thousands who lost their lives at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945 and the Habikusha for many years after.

ON the First of March, 1954, the United States detonated the Castle-Bravo blast at Bikini. It was a fifteen megaton surface blast. It blew a hole over a mile wide and four hundred feet deep in the atoll, completely obliterating the island and vaporizing over thirteen billion cubic feet of coral, rock and water, sending it in a radioactive cloud extending into the stratosphere. The fallout over the atolls downwind was devastating to the people and ecology there. All of that material is rendered extremely radioactive and as it cools it condenses to fall as rain or radioactive “snow” which contaminates everything it touches. The effects are felt worldwide.
** In February of 2004, Marsha, a lady who has been a tireless worker for Downwinders had heard of my anti-nuclear writing and contacted me to ask if I would contribute a poem as a memorial to the victims of Castle Bravo. I agreed, and wrote The Day of Two Sunrises from the point of view of a young boy on Rongalap, basing much of it on eyewitness reports of the test…

** The Day of Two Sunrises

My brother and I went to play
By the boats pulled up on the beach.
We raced and played tag
And chased land crabs in the predawn light.

The sun began to light the east
As it always had before,
Suddenly, a second sun arose in the west
Where never the sun had risen!

We ran to Mama to ask her what and why.
She did not know and the new sun died
As quickly as it grew.
In the Men’s House, they talked and remembered.

The day began as always, the men to fish in their outriggers,
The mothers cooking and digging taro, gathering plantains
And watching over the children
Who played at fishing and gathering and ran and played tag.

Suddenly, from the sky fell white powder!
Once a missionary had told of snow. Perhaps this was snow!
It came down covering everything. It was sticky.
We played, and scooped it up and threw it at each other. It was fun!

That evening I did not feel so well. My eyes hurt and my stomach turned to water.
My brother’s body was covered with blisters and his skin began to fall off.
Mother was vomiting, too, and her beautiful hair
Began to come out in handfuls.

Mother wondered if it was the snow, so she washed us,
But the water was filled with snow and the scrubbing removed the skin.
Soon, the whole village was sick, and the animals, and the plants,
All were sick.

After two days, the strange men came, in boats with a large mouth
Which dropped open on the beach and white clad creatures came out.
They wore masks with strange eyes and a long round mouth.
They pointed sticks at us which buzzed and crackled.

They pointed the sticks at everything, the trees, the well, the fish,
And listened to the buzz and crackle, then made marks on little boards they carried.
Finally they left, but told us we were very sick and not to eat
Of the fish, the coconuts, the plantains, the taro, that they were now tabu.

The men returned in their large boats and said our island was now tabu.
They gathered us up, leaving everything behind
We were taken to another place where we were poked and bled.
We looked so terrible that the people must have been afraid.

They wore the strange white suits when they looked in on us.
My brother looked the worst, like an old man with scabs
Which broke and bled and his teeth fell out
And then he was dead.

Mama became an old woman with patchy hair
And always a sickness.
Each time she saw me, she cried.
I was so sick, so tired, and then one day I died.

** In memory of the Rongalapese and other Islanders who were poisoned by Castle Bravo (15 megatons, 1 March 1954) and other bombs. Just collateral damage in the quest for knowledge and power.
Steve Osborn
25 February 2004

THE 20th anniversary of Chernobyl should be a lesson to us all as to the danger of nuclear power and nuclear weaponry, but it doesn’t seem to be. I have spent most of my adult life trying to eliminate nuclear weaponry and, if possible the use of nuclear power. We may have the dragon chained up, but he is still strong and definitely not tamed. We can’t dispose of the waste safely and the possibility of an accident is always present. The area around Chernobyl will be uninhabitable for centuries. The people in power, who have never fought, and never seen at first had the horror of a nuclear detonation blithely talk of mini-nukes and bunker busters. It cannot be!

Chernobyl plus 20

Chernobyl, a disaster almost old enough to vote.
It seems a lifetime ago to the young;
Just yesterday to those of us who remember
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Operation Crossroads at Bikini.

Chernobyl was a prediction by those who knew;
By those who had seen their bones through their arms,
Bathed in Thermonuclear light in the Marshall Islands.
And by the Victims of Castle Bravo in ‘54.

Chernobyl was preceded by many close calls, many accidents.
The Fermi plant near Chicago, Three Mile Island and others,
Radiation poisoning suffered by countless “Downwinders.”
Here and abroad they cried their warnings.

Chernobyl was not a nuclear explosion, not a bomb,
It was just an accident, a stubborn fire in nuclear fuel.
Yet the effects were felt, are still felt, around the world.
They will continue for many generations.

Chernobyl, a city, a region, rendered uninhabitable
For three to six centuries, longer than the Dark Ages lasted.
A legacy of cancers and mutations, not two heads or three legs,
But susceptibilities for diseases and mental retardation.

Chernobyl, subject of an article being written twenty years ago.
My young son came in with the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Wow, Dad! Weather report! For the first time in history,
Scattered showers with traces of radioactive Iodine!”

Chernobyl, a warning unheeded by those who
Never felt the heat, saw the light, feared the sickness,
But blithely want to curse the planet with more of the same.
In the sacred name of Democracy?

Chernobyl is our future, unless we reinstate the many treaties,
The world worked so hard to create, building hope out of fear.
And remove from power, those who would reawaken the nuclear dragon,
And turn it loose to devour the earth again.

Steve Osborn
26 April 2006

I STILL have flashbacks to Bikini and the H-Bomb tests. For years I had nightmares of nuclear war and the destruction of all things. I would wake up crying, in a cold sweat. Finally, that passed, until I saw the movie The Day After, and later, Threads. Recently I entered the room to the ending of Fail-Safe. I listened to the decision made and carried out. My wife came in and found me in tears. It had all come back yet again.

I Have Seen the Dragon

I have seen the Dragon
Through clenched lids and arms pressed tight.
I have felt its hot breath on my back
And listened to the rumble of its voice.

I have looked upon its breath,
Glowing Amethyst, red and purple,
Climbing towards the stratosphere
To deposit its venom downwind.

I have waited in fear as my gums began to bleed
And my hair came out in clumps.
I breathed a prayer of thanks
As I began to heal.

After fifty years, our ranks are thin,
We who have seen the Dragon and survived.
Those who have died or are sickened still,
Their numbers are legion.

All we can hope for, work for, pray for,
Is that no madman will ever be allowed
To unleash the Dragon again.
For its legacy to all is death, disease and decay.

© Stephen M. Osborn
2 November 2006

IT is often hard to retain hope in the midst of all this insanity of war and politics and greed, but I do feel sure that, in some form, life will go on, even if we manage to destroy ourselves, or Mother Nature finally gets fed up and does it as a matter of planetary survival. In such a mood, I wrote It Will Go On.

It Will Go On

The red, setting sun, casts long shadows of the rocks and hills.
When the fallout is ended and the radiation has diminished,
The desert still exists, silent save for the susurration of the sand
Blown by the winds, slowly covering the wounds of war.

Forgotten monuments again becoming homes and shelter.
Small creatures creep out in the gathering stillness
To carry on their own lives, eating and being eaten
In the long dance that predates man and will continue long after.

As the climates change, volcanos and tsunamis rend the land and shore,
With the melting of the ice the seas rise; temperate zones become steppes.
Encased in permafrost, Man’s vaunted civilization may crumble away.
Man, himself, may run crying into the limbo that holds the dinosaurs.

The desert, silent save for the susurration of the sand, will still exist.
The red, setting sun, will cast long shadows of the rocks and hills.
Small creatures will creep out in the gathering stillness
To carry on their own lives, eating and being eaten as they always have…

Steve Osborn
21 November 2005

May the World find salvation in Love and Peace.

An Acrostic Note toward a Peaceful World

Saving the World is a mighty endeavor
That can break the heart of those on the trail,
As well as the one who just wants to be clever.
Renew your efforts on a smaller scale,
There are ideas that cannot fail.

Share with those you find around you.
Mighty weapons are hugs and smiles,
And you’ll find they come back to bless you, too.
Love scatters light for many miles,
Lighting the way to the plan in the files.

Lately the news seems filled with hate and tragedy;
Only occasionally does love and kindness appear.
Verily, we need a new strategy,
Encouraging empathy and forgiveness instead of fear.

Teachers revered throughout history have always taught love,
Hatred is proved but a sordid blind alley.
Youth has always sought a path of enlightenment in the light above.

Now we are facing a cult of hate and destruction,
Engorging itself upon power and greed.
It is time We the People begin giving instruction,
Growing love and compassion with new seed.
Hatred is like being chained to an oar in a galley.
Brotherly love can snap the chain and break the oar,
Or, take the galley and head for an halcyon shore.
Resolving in peace, that of hate, we will take no more.

Steve Osborn
28 May 2017


I don’t think any sane person wants nuclear war but on the other hand nukes can’t be uninvented. If we give up ours and everyone else keeps theirs, our country will be done in a week. If we had completely disarmed in 1940, do you think Hitler and Tojo would have just let us go on with our lives?

Which is why the very thought of a limited Nuclear strike on a Nuclear power is idiotic. If the US launches a Nuclear weapon against Russia they are not going to call up Russia and say “trust us , this is a limited low yield weapon so do not respond with anything bigger”.


I would think the use of ‘tactical nukes’ would be limited to countries without the capability to respond in kind. Just as a confrontation involving an armed party and an unarmed party, the armed party liable to escalate the situation. When the 2 armed militias confronted each other in Louisville, a standoff occurred. If only one had been there the odds of a violent confrontation would have escalated. As it was, both sides knew that a misstep would result in an all out battle with many deaths. The lesson the world governments learned from Libya and South Africa is that if you give up your nukes, you may be overthrown at any time. As the economic and political situation deteriorates over the next few years, I look for more nations to obtain nukes rather than less. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey are on the short list. any nuclear capable nation will ALWAYS use their nukes if pushed far enough. Be ready.

The article I linked to suggests otherwise in that the US is changing its Policy to use them against Russia and other Nuclear powers.

Yes, but that may or may not be something to just try to intimidate Russia. Nukes achieve a great deal just by the intimidation factor of threatening their use; that’s why Russia HAS to threaten an all out launch. If they only launch on a nuclear attack, the US and NATO could easily overcome them with conventional weapons - both sides know this.

Visited the Hiroshima memorial in Japan in 1966, only 21 years after the event. Very moving. What surprised me was that I received no looks of hatred from the Japanese at that place. That experience, along with the writings of Bertrand Russell inspired me to pursue peace over the succeeding years of my life.

1 Like