Always the gunfire -
The foreign ship's guns -
Shells howling through the air
Like freight trains -
Explosions, deafening,
Metal fragments flying about
Like scythes -
A typhoon of steel -
Everywhere the dying and the dead.

Invaders -
Barbarians with blue,
Soulless eyes -
Empty, blue soulless eyes.
"They'll snatch away your soul!"
So the Japanese soldiers say.
"Americans are cannibals!"
"Some are devils with black skins!"
Run and hide!  Run and hide!

The guns - always the guns -
Shells howling through the air
Like freight trains.

Naha to Hedo -
Three days and nights -
Over seventy miles - a barefoot
A journey through hell -
Grandmother, mother,
Father, older brother,
Younger brother, two younger sisters -
And me,
At least began the journey.

We follow the Japanese soldiers -
Safety near the soldiers!
Safety near the soldiers!
Or so we are told.

The guns -
Always the guns!
Freight trains in
The air!

In a shell hole:
Neck deep, putrid water -
A dead water buffalo,
Bloated belly up -
A dismembered human torso,
Belly down -
Bits and pieces of things -
The smell!
The smell!

Guns -
Shells howling through the air.

High in an ancient
Banyan Tree:
A young soldier's body
Draped over a limb -
A snake encircles
Tree limb and corpse -
Round and round and round and round,
Keeping the body from falling
To the ground.

Shells howling through the air
Like freight trains.

In a roadside ditch:
A leg -
A strange let -
A foreign woman's leg -
A perfect leg encased in silk,
Thigh to foot,
The silken seam a perfect scar.

Shells howling through the air.

Grandmother holds me
In her arms -
Shells bursting all around.
She rocks me, rocks me, rocks. . .
A sudden warm stickiness
In my hair -
I look up for reassurance. . .
Where is her head?
Where is her head?

Freight trains overhead.

Mother and younger brother
Help a Japanese soldier;
The bloody stump of his leg
Crawls with maggots.
They help him over the hill
To a safe place for him to die.
None of them return.
None of them return

The guns, the foreign ship guns -
All is still -
All is silent.

To the victor the spoils??
A squad of blue-eyed warriors,
Uniforms jungle green -
Tenderly take an infant from
A young mother's arms:
Pass the infant to an
old woman nearby:
Escort the sobbing young mother
To a pig sty -
Enjoy her one-by-one,
One-by-one, until all are done.

In the hills -
Small arms fire now and then -
The big guns are silent.

Jungle green -
Strange language,
Strange eyes, Strange smiles,
And. . . .
Chocolate bars!!

The guns are silent.
The guns are silent.

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| A Selection of Haiku and Traditional Verse | Memories When 7. . .Okinawa, 1945