President Harry Truman’s Eldest Grandson: A Poem

President Harry Truman’s Eldest Grandson Offers a Thousand Paper Cranes
    from the City of Hiroshima to a Bronx, New York High School
The high schoolers are listening to the grandson of the dead President
who dropped not one but two atomic bombs on the Japanese.

A lovely, insolent child with henna-highlighted hair raises a hand.
Asks if survivors feel any bitterness after all this time.

Three white-haired women are seated onstage in folding chairs.
There is a microphone center stage. The arithmetic

of ages in 1945 is calculated by the less math-phobic.
One of the women rises. Walks to the microphone.

Says, in English, Remember. In jeans and a Giants sweatshirt
the grandson hands off the chains of origami birds

as if time and space and memory are folded into shapes
that say what they say, which can never be enough.

From the rear of the gymnasium a rude noise and laughter
like lightning then thunder after an apocalypse.

Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of four books and several chapbooks. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Blackbird, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, and elsewhere, as well as the anthologies New Poetry from the Midwest and Every River on Earth. His collection of poems Nosferatu in Florida is currently in search of a publisher, having been a finalist for the New American Poetry Prize (twice), the Moon City Review Poetry Prize, the Gerald Cable Book Award, and the Anhinga Prize for Poetry. He has received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (in poetry) and fellowships from the arts councils of Ohio and Florida. He lives in Pataskala, Ohio.


  1. Kathleen Burgess says:

    Roy Bentley has ruined me for nearly any other poet’s work. A Bentley poem keeps yielding layer on layer, reading after reading, and not just technique but resonant meaning, the wisdom I go to poetry for.

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