The HyperTexts

America’s Poem for Japan

by Michael R. Burch, an editor of Holocaust and Nakba poetry

These lines written after the earthquakes and tsunamis of March, 2011 and are dedicated to Japan, to the Japanese people, and to every victim and survivor and their families and friends, everywhere around the globe. Poetry can be simultaneously an expression of grief, a way of mourning, and part of the process of recovering from shock, trauma and the deaths of loved ones. It is my hope and prayer that all the people of the world will come together in strong bonds of friendship, brotherhood, compassion and love, to help the people of Japan recover as quickly as possible from this catastrophe.

We once were bitter rivals, but now we’re good friends;
the ones we once opposed, we’d now gladly defend,
if we only knew how!

So the gifts of our money, time, energy and love
and our prayers to all the Witnesses who watch from above,
we wing to you now!

As
kind poems we bring to you;
sweet psalms we sing to you;
bright anthems we ring to you
of brotherhood and love!

Your children our children, your parents our own ...
we worry; we wait; we sit, tense, by the phone
to hear if they’re well ...

Your sisters our sisters, your brothers ours too,
your fathers our fathers, your mothers kind and true
who now endure hell—
                                     hear the great anthem swell!

For
kind poems we’ll bring to them;
sweet psalms we’ll sing to them;
bright anthems we’ll ring to them
of brotherhood and love!

We also have suffered discouraging fates:
here in Nashville, where I write, we once felt the floodgates
thrown open; sheer hell

then fell on our children, our parents, our friends.
My wife almost died from the shock: pain descends
in black, crushing waves ...

So,
kind poems we bring to you;
sweet psalms we sing to you;
bright anthems we ring to you
of brotherhood and love!

Your grief is our grief; your tears are our tears;
fight on through the night—now your battles are ours
though they may last for years.

But we know you’ll recover—our valiant friends!
Please show the world your courage till this black chaos ends
and the sun appears!

Meanwhile,
kind poems we’ll bring to you;
sweet psalms we’ll sing to you;
bright anthems we’ll ring to you
of brotherhood and love!

In your wildest night terrors,
we are there with our prayers.
Every bright-breaking morning,
our love is also dawning.
With each pained, heartfelt cry
of a child, we’re nearby
tears of grief in our eyes,
asking God to be wise.

Oh,
kind poems we bring to you;
sweet psalms we sing to you;
bright anthems we ring to you
of brotherhood and love!

In every dark cloud
there must be a silver lining:
look beyond the thunderheads—
see? Our love’s there, brightly shining
and welcoming yours,
earth’s most heavenly force.

As,
kind poems we bring to you;
sweet psalms we sing to you;
bright anthems we ring to you
of brotherhood and love!

So tonight, my weary angel,
tender dove—rest, take bread;
gather up your strength and courage
for the long flight ahead;
rejoice for all the living;
grieve heartbroken for the dead;
comfort all the frightened children;
tuck them gently in bed
(making sure they’re all well-fed!)
as the world sings, in your stead ...

Oh,
kind poems we bring to you;
sweet psalms we sing to you;
bright anthems we ring to you
of brotherhood and love!

The HyperTexts