The sky was different
the day the birdsong ceased,
(as if they knew)
it carried in itself
a tepid hue of sick blancmange,
That day my skin was drizzle-glazed
but yet
It had not bloomed
in radiation rashes yet
my inner organs had not given up.

They came the morning after
to lock me up
to observe my symptoms
to learn how blood may boil.

I’m waiting
in the company of two-way mirrors
from my only window, still, I see
the staring moon,
a solemn gaze tonight
that’s veiled behind
a cataract of poisoned cumulus,

tonight I’ll cease.

but still I know
that many more
will come to fill my void
to melt like me.

Remembering Chernobyl and the many who died as an effect of Radiation. Linked to dVerse OLN

June 07, 2019

44 responses to “Downfall

  1. That was a terrible event with devastating consequences. You captured this well Bjorn from the first to the last line.

  2. Frightening, touching–lest we forget. Trump threatens nuclear chaos on Iran. We may see more of these radiation deaths in our time .

  3. Bjorn, your matter-of-fact poetic voice makes this poem hit the reader, harder. I was 16, when news of this environmental nuclear disaster reached Canada.

  4. Bjorn, you do the dead honor with your poem. Your poetic skill is downright amazing at times. Not sure if you’ve heard about this or not: It offers no relief for those who were annihilated and continue to suffer. It does present a possible remedy for the poisoned environment. Consumption of miso for medical staff treating victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki acted as a barrier to radiation effects, per Nagasaki physician, Dr. Shinichoro Akizuki (from, _Wild Fermentation_, page 59, by Sandor Katz.)

      • I think mycellium is so much more important to the survival of the planet than we give it credit for. You bring up something important. Even if the mushrooms clear the soil of radiation, what then do we do with the mushrooms?

  5. It was horrible and devastating 😦 Your poem is incredibly evocative and hits the reader hard.

  6. I remember seeing footage of firefighters being sent out with no protective clothing at all, and the crews of the planes that flew over it to douse the fire. It was inhumanly cynical. The authorities must have know they were sending all those men to their deaths.

  7. It was underplayed and little by little the truth has seeped out – this is such a powerful poem and it takes several reads to fully appreciate what you have conjured – “sick blancmange,” -a most telling phrase

    • Yes, the minimization was skillfully wrought. I still have enough hubris to think nuclear power may be an option to help decease global warming, but it requires an ability to see proactively the problems and deficits that were at Chernobyl and Fukushima, and enough of a collabaorative spirit than our species often possesses to settle on better long term storage solutions. But having said all of that, the sorrow and tragedy of these deaths and illnesses are a blight on our humanity.

  8. I like your poem but not the terrible tragedy that could have been averted (if communist parties cared about their fellow citizens).

  9. The rawness of your words speak the truth. I like the way you repeat “cease”, emphasizing the finality of it all and I I was especially moved by this….”a tepid hue of sick blancmange”

  10. I remember Chernobyl too and we have a charity project that brings 18 children from the affected area to the Scottish Highlands every year for four weeks so they can enjoy the sights and breathe the clean air – we met them two days ago on the beach 🙂

  11. Your poem is a stark reminder of the horror of Chernobyl, Bjorn. The cessation of birdsong and the ‘tepid hue of sick blancmange’ are powerful and evocative. The lines that really stand out for me are:
    ‘That day my skin was drizzle-glazed
    but yet
    It had not bloomed
    in radiation rashes yet’
    ‘a cataract of poisoned cumulus’.

  12. Chernobyl is the fang but cancer is really the ghoul here, silent, brooding, flying over a city like the Angel of Death, deciding whom to bloom in, whom to fake. Modernity endures the cancer plague without answers and enough medicine to make it all the more fraught and anxious, nuclear disasters raise the magnitude of that fear to something more of the dragon than angel. Disasters are local; news of Chernobyl in America was only news, lost in the 80s, resurrected recently on Netflix. What I grasp here in your poem is how the fear so gripped Europe, how it lingers decades later, asking, will it be me? I’m not sure fear makes for a great challenge (see Toni), but fearful imagination does write large.

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