A Poem to Paul Tibbets, by Nora Nickerson
American To American
American To American
Nora Nickerson writes poetry in her spare time and has been published in Laughing Dog, River Library Anthology and has been a featured poet against war on Human Harmony, a cable television program. She works as a nurse practitioner at the Veteran's Administration medical center in Tucson where she hopes to influence military minds to consider peaceful means to conflict.
"Here it is and it is not a short one. I spent some time researching this poem and was astounded at Paul Tibbets and his life/words/attitude and inabilty to ever offer any apology to those who survived.
The whole freudian bit (naming the bomber after his mother and the bomb "little boy") is my interpretation but seemed obvious when I read about his life.
It is a bit dark. Anyway, feel free to use it!
Best Wishes and keep up your really good work!
— Nora Nickerson
On Little Boy’s Sixtieth Birthday
"We’ve never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn't kill innocent people. If the newspapers would just cut out the shit, ‘you've killed so many civilians,’ that's their tough luck for being there.”
— Paul Tibbets to Studs Terkel
“The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”
— Dwight Eisenhower
It was all so Oedipal:
the imperfect hero, puppet of fate,
mixed with tragic flaws, irony, hubris.
The characters, Enola Gay, the housewife,
your stay at home mom, Dad the good husband,
father. Thought he ran the show, ruled the roost.
Mom didn’t love Dad, not really, you knew that.
But she loved her Little Boy, her little Paul.
And you loved that Enola Gay, the big bellied
mama, who said, it’s all right son, drop
out of medical school and be a fighter pilot.
Say no to Daddy. He can’t tell you what to be.
You didn't really like Daddy anyway, wanted
him out of the way. Wanted to stand up, say no,
join the Air Force, kill the enemy, kill daddy.
Mama always understood, you wanted to be a real man,
wanted to knock up Enola Gay so you knocked her up good
with that nine thousand pound bouncing Little Boy.
You said, “There's only one way to do things, that's the right way.”
And that's just what you did, rode mama just right
until she dropped Little Boy right over that city.
You said, “it was one hell of a big bang.”
You swore you saved thousands of lives on that mission.
You would have “done anything to get to Japan and stop the killing.”
Doesn't make sense Paul, two hundred thousand died,
bodies charred, skin peeled off like wallpaper, arms stiff
outstretched, wandering ghosts in that atom sputtering fury.
But you sure did show Daddy what you could do that day
and Mama was tickled pink,“should have seen
the old gal’s belly jiggle on that one.”
It was just another mission if you didn't let imagination run away with your wits.”
I guess that's why you said you “graduated
with honors in psychic numbing,” as if that explained it all.
God, time flew, ninety years old this year and Little Boy is sixty.
Mama and Daddy dead and all those ghosts out there,
just waiting for you to open your eyes and see, waiting
for you to say, I'm sorry, maybe they're just waiting for you.
At least Oedipus knew what to do, he knew his mistaken vision
led straight to tragedy.
But after all these years, you're so numb,
you haven't figured out that you never could see.