Their Screams Live in My Ear – Pina Piccolo

Their Screams Live in My Ear



Sixty years later, he said

“Then I was the foolish young soldier

Who two days after the atomic bomb

on August 8, 1945

tried to pick up the shadow

of the girl


on the sidewalk.”


Meekly he continued to say it

Gentle old Japanese man

no longer a soldier

so around the world

people wouldn’t cover their ears

at the screams

of two Iraqi sisters

fifteen and sixteen

(Never knew their names

newspapers never bothered)


by soldiers

who saw a branch move

in the woods

as the girls picked kindle

to warm up the hearth

in the coldest December in

fifty years




“Their screams live in my ears”

wailing over

top volume rock

“We are the champions”

(Master of space, soon to be

Lords of the universe)

issuing from a depleted uranium

shielded tank

as it blindly trumpets its way

through the streets of Falluja.


Their screams live in my ear

Never sleep

Don’t ever nestle comfortably

in the crook of my ear

and resignedly whisper

Raw, like the first day

they roar

to be heard

Angry, unforgiving

Surprised and aghast.


Driving on highway 1 towards Santa Cruz, in 2000 I heard on KPFA  the testimony of the Japanese soldier and I had to pull over stop the car  and cry. Three years later I remembered that testimony as the war against Iraq was raging and I wrote this poem, which is now  in the unpublished collection “Avatars in the Borderlands”.