What if we really remembered, and could learn

the lesson taught us by the countless dead

of countless wars:

could hear the shrieks, the clamour of the dying,

the voices of the firestorm; could have caught

the whispered faint escape of terminal breath

deflating the body, floating out, blown atoms

carried across ages and continents? What if

we paid attention?

Originally published in I am not a silent poet

The tenth circle

for the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

After the flash,

after the flaying of cities and forests from the land,

after the dying down of the firestorms,

only the unspeakable icy night remains, the louring clouds

dripping poison.

It is the end of everything they know.

Those who are still alive lie in one another’s arms

waiting to die. It will not take long,

but it will be too long. Those who can still see or hear

lock their eyes shut, stop up their ears, in terror and despair,

but they cannot ward off the stench of hell, not sulphur

but seared flesh, marinated in mud and ashes.

Those who can still think

no longer have words to describe what has been done to them.

It is far, far too late for pity

or remorse.

Mandy Macdonald is an Australian writer and musician living in Aberdeen, appalled by the inevitability of climate apocalypse but kept sane by poetry, music and gardening. Her poetry is published in several anthologies and many online and print journals in the UK and further afield. Her first collection, The temperature of blue (Blue Salt Collective, 2020), is now available.