Lawrence Matsuda

Hiroshima Bomb
March 15, 2013 Lawrence Matsuda

Hiroshima Bomb


Confetti spirals flutter into dark green.

Cousin Mary and her Bachan

stand on the Hiroshima pier.

Horns blare as the last steamship

pulls away before the war,

separating her from mom and dad.


In her black and white

grammar school girl uniform,

Mary looks Japanese.

American gait draws

every neighbor’s stare,

gaijin, foreigner.


Return to Sender letters

from America.

Bachan seeks a temple psychic:


            Mary’s parents are well in a hot

            and desolate place.

            Razor points at intervals

            confine thousands.


            A gourd of death

            will tumble from blue

            Hiroshima skies.


            No chance to scream,

            glass shards explode,

            flesh burns,

            no chance to breathe.


            Victorious Americans will

            toss chocolate to orphans. 

           Your outstretched palm

           will catch nothing.


Mary rides the Tokyo express

through Hiroshima after the bomb.

Blinds pulled tight, sunlight

seeps through cracks.


Twenty US army soldiers

rise wordlessly,

khaki garrison

caps cover hearts.

In silence they kneel,

fill the aisle, heads bowed

as if in church.


Mary slides to the window,

peeks and raises the curtain

to a bleached moonscape of

stacked and mangled heaps.


School boy in gray underwear

pulls a red wagon against the wind,

his fluttering oil-skin umbrella

whips inside out, tearing parchment from spines

in the feted horizontal rain.




Lawrence Matsuda was born in the Minidoka, Idaho Concentration Camp during World War II. He and his family were among the approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese held without due process for approximately three years or more.   Matsuda has a Ph.D. in education from the University of Washington and was: a secondary teacher, university counselor, state level administrator, school principal, assistant superintendent, educational consultant, and visiting professor at Seattle University (SU).

In 2005, he and two SU colleagues co-edited the book, Community and difference: teaching, pluralism and social justice, Peter Lang Publishing, New York. It won the 2006 National Association of Multicultural Education Phillip Chinn Book Award. In July of 2010, his book of poetry entitled, A Cold Wind from Idaho was published by Black Lawrence Press in New York.

His poems appear in Ambush Review, Raven Chronicles, New Orleans Review, Floating Bridge Review, Black Lawrence Press website, Poets Against the War website, Cerise Press, Nostalgia Magazine, Plume, Malpais Review, Zero Ducats, Surviving Minidoka (book), Meet Me at Higos (book), Minidoka-An American Concentration Camp (book and photographs), Tidepools Magazine, and the Seattle Journal for Social Justice.

In addition, eight of his poems were the subject of a 60 minute dance presentation entitled, Minidoka performed by Whitman College students in Walla Walla, Washington (2011).