An Ode To A Nuclear Catastrophe _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Published in the January 2015 issue of KONCH MAGAZINE, edited by Ishmael Reed and Tennessee Reed:



they wander like a whisper
over this city
blending with the sea breeze
the soft light
the cracks of scars
not just one ghost or two
but tens of thousands
who all looked up and saw a flash
turning people into dead globs of charcoal;
there are no photos from that day,
they wander, crawling, naked, moaning,
flesh hanging like tatters;
they’re asking that question,
we did nothing wrong
why oh why
when all it can do is
kill kill kill kill
nothing else
turning skin eyeballs laughter head back legs
into a keloid of hell,
but no one really answers.


Y’all, it’s a Meltdown nation
Since Three-Eleven
Covered in the fear
Of unseen radiation
But Don’t you expect
Any revolution
All you will find
Is fear and contamination.


Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
Instead of a holler
Hear just a whimper
They say it is safe
The kids like Chernobyl
Are coming down sick
With Thyroid cancer.

Y’all, it’s no hallucination
The refugees’ life
No compensation
No resolution
Just nuclear explosions
Get your dosimeter
Cesium in the water
Lost Imagination


Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
The radiated Brothers
Faces are hidden
Goggles and masks
Like an astronaut
From head to toe
The Invisible workers

Tsunami Demolition
God’s DeCreation
Genetic Devastation
Our next Generation.
Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
No-go zones forever
The World must remember.



Tiny cars gobbled up
In a crescendo of raging water
They are not plastic toys
Floating in a tub
They drop from
Concrete, suddenly bending like rubber
We see people moving
Flecks of flesh, faces inside
Are they screaming?
Are they laughing?
Are they thinking of death?
As we all watch
Hundreds of miles away,
It is all televised
The flickering screens and broadcaster voices
Remind us of what we have already felt
Our own skins shaking
Hard breathing, fear of dying,
The swaying building
A giant quake not seen for centuries
Rattling in a bolt of God’s wrath
Or uncaring
Tipping the bath tub of
The Pacific Ocean
Blanketing miles of coastlines with junk and mud
Buses on top of roofs
Ships climbing into towns
Thousands dead
Thousands dead
Thousands dead
Brothers, children, farmers, teachers, truck drivers
Our prayers aren’t over
When it is again all televised
The shuddering explosion
At Fukushima Daiichi
Nuclear power plant
Oh, my God
Oh, my God
Oh, my God
Tokyo Electric Power Co. is reporting that about 3:36 p.m. today there was a vertical sharking, an explosion going boom, and white smoke rising at Reactor One of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. As a result of this explosion, two Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees and two other workers have been injured. The cause of the explosion is under investigation, and other details are not immediately available.
We don’t know it yet
We are living the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl
That phrase
We write and hear
Over and over
The worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl
A fume of noise and error
Spewing invisible radiation
Names we know like plutonium
And iodine but with strange numbers after it, like 131
Or stranger names we do not know
Part of our everyday lives
福島原子力発電所第一号機では 炉心を冷却する水の水位が急激に下がり続けるなど不安定な状況が続いています。こうした状況で燃料が溶け出す炉心溶融が起きている可能性があります。
Unstable conditions are continuing at Reactor One of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant as the water level continues to drop for the coolant designed to cool the reactor core. Under these conditions, there is likely a meltdown.
We are all witnesses
We are all victims
We are all reporters.
We are all mothers
We are all children
We are all perpetrators
We are all culprits
Although no one knows
And no one is accountable
Although it is all televised
Smoke billowing from
A giant fire with no flames
A ghostly skeleton of bleeding
Gnarled steel
Please stay indoors
Please shut your doors and windows.
Massive radiation has arrived.


鯰Catfish sleeps
Buried in the mud
Of meltdown metal
A black-light coastline
Fifty reactors
Tomari to Genkai
鯰 Catfish moves
And the Earth rumbles
Sways its tail
And skyscrapers crumble
Swishes a whisker
Bridges, roads shatter
鯰Catfish grows
Bigger and bigger
Eight snake faces
Eight dragon tails
Volcanic eruption
Yamata no Orochi
鯰 Monster lives
Our daughters and sons
Every year, a sacrifice
Hundred eight brave samurai
They’re all dead,
Trying to kill it 鯰


Please listen and tell the world.
How our children in Fukushima are getting thyroid cancer, one by one.
My daughter is one of them.
Pediatric thyroid cancer is rare.
The chance for getting it is under one in a million.
One in a million.
But in Fukushima, it’s 112 out of some 380,000 children tested, and the tally is growing.
This is Fukushima after Three-Eleven.
Beautiful Fukushima, where rice paddies stretch between lazy mountains.
Beautiful Fukushima, where snow falls everywhere like fluffy rice.
Beautiful Fukushima, where, when spring finally comes, cherry trees explode in pink chiffon.
But this is Fukushima after Three-Eleven.
No other place in Japan is like that.
No other place in the world is like that _ except for the Ukraine and Belarus.
But they say these cases are turning up, these cases that should be under one in a million, because we are looking so much harder, testing all the children in Fukushima.
The authorities say they are just playing it safe.
When no one really feels safe
After Three-Eleven in Fukushima.
My little girl got surgery and so her tumor was removed.
And the doctor told me: Aren’t you so lucky?
Aren’t you so lucky we did those tests to save your child?
If we hadn’t, the cancer might not have been found.
But I don’t feel lucky.
I don’t feel lucky at all.