This is the third poem in the series. When Wayne landed in Nagasaki, it had been totally rebuilt as though WWII hadn’t ended a mere seven years beforehand. I think of how long it’s taking to rebuild New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. Priorities tell all.




Nagasaki winked in the sun
and flashed her new facelift,
as though WWII was just


a hallucination now hovering
further west. After Japan’s
Sea channeled us further


from reality, we bumped
into Puson Harbor
where the first thing that I seen


was a baby floating
in the water. This
is gonna be a son-


of-a-bitch, I told
myself and loosened my life-
jacket so any sense


of normalcy could start
seeping from my heart.
Off the ship and in the city,


trucks and soldiers’ feet
carved out the landscape – dust.
A young boy in the street,


naked except his shoes,
stood still and screamed
while jeeps careened around him


as though he was nothing
but a ghost already. I still watch
his war-filthed face,


his ribby skin: a silhouette
of waste. How we got
to Seoul, I don’t remember,


but I do recall the kids
who jumped on empty cans
of c-rations

like fighting dogs, licking
every grain of salt left
in the tins. Still green


enough, I made a plan
the other men grabbed
hold of, having nothing


else to wrap their arms
around. In the train
for our final destination,


keening wheels ground out
our thoughts, and we opened
windows wide to throw


our cartons to the wind,
dispersing twelve meals
per man in little packs:


meat, bread, fruit,
and cigarettes. It’d keep
some kids alive, I thought.