Tuesday, March 15, 2011


First there is heartbreak of the personal kind--familial, love, and this kept me from writing.  It emptied me out for a while.  Now there is heartbreak of a different sort--huge, vast, beyond comprehension--the death of thousands and thousands, disaster, nuclear madness.

It has been days and days of dismay.  Sorrow for the Japanese.  The news is profoundly alarming and everyone I meet is going on their merry way, barely noticing a country called Japan.

Nuclear madness--the words of Helen Caldicott.

I teach my classes and talk about safety and power, energy and sustainability, poetry and words.  Ironically, we just watched Silkwood and we read Terry Tempest Williams' Refuge--a memoir of cancer, nuclear bombs and Mormon downwinders.  To have this happen--to bring in newspaper clippings and have it all right in our faces--beyond shocking.  Of course there is water and walls and cities crashing and people smothered and destroyed--too much to take in--too many of all the disaster movies I've been watching these past few years--about nuclear disaster, and climate disaster.  The Day After, The Day After Tomorrow, all those last man on earth movies.  Creepy.  Haunting.

What would Rachel Carson say?  Man's hubris?

Teaching is healing.  My students--so many of them--innocent and yet not at all so.  I do feel maternal with them.  I never used to.  Maybe I'm becoming more of a mother as I age, as my own daughter ages.

In the car tonight (oh oil--!), my daughter says, "In school they said nuclear energy is renewable. Is it renewable, mom?"

Is it renewable?  How do I answer that question?  I don't know where to begin.

It was a brief moment.  (I keep listening to the radio--just an ear out to see if a plume will get to California where I have so many loved ones.)  
Charlie--he's still in Japan--I keep checking his mom's facebook page to see if he's back yet, and feeling guilty that I can't do something.

I said, "Honey, we'll go home and study up on nuclear fission and nuclear plants.  We'll talk about it. Together."

She asks, "Did they know there would be earthquakes?"  Why yes, dear, they did.

Tonight I will not sleep. 

Mama (papa) 2011

Mama I hear you
I hear you screaming out
Helen Caldicott
I hear you laughing out
loud over
bottle of wine
that story  
about Linus Pauling
Barry Commoner
that story
of baby teeth
strontium 90
You stood there taking
the rocks as they 
called you dirty reds 
while you tried to save
the world
pushing a baby stroller
 bomb shelters
 "the fallacy of safety!"
there is 
there is
there is
no (safe) place to hide
that, my friends, was the good old 1950s

tonight, oh mom,
what are you saying
from the sky?
are you shaking your head
in dismay as 
back in Japan where we blew them to hell?

       dear god, they are saying: move  
the children
  away from
the melting plants!
   but       where
oh where
can they move
them to? 

$54 billion in loans for more
of these fission monsters
and billions more for modernizing
digging up more uranium
from our mother earth
building more monsters
spewing more poisons
cancering and monstering
us all

there are a few of us talking
shaking our heads-
(mostly women)
why always women?
talking only to ourselves?
        most are sleeping
and having a nuclear love affair---

tonight I took a walk and looked at the sky

tonight I looked in the monk's eyes
       there were pools of love
words of compassion 
for the Japanese
there were pools 
    of love
at the monastery
on the hill