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August 6, 1945

There was Henry Stimson

Secretary of War

and a poker player with a card up his sleeve

called it a ‘royal straight flush’

and knew how to play it.

There was Michihiko Hachiya

newly married

watched as the house they’d just built

in the silent crumble of collapse

came to an inferno of nothing.

There was Dutch van Kirk


and a black bird in the sun

guiding the payload of history’s dark heart

and never lost a night’s sleep.

There was Shinichi Tetsutani

four years old

riding his three-wheeler bike

and flying into a hot and cloudless Sunday

both feet off the pedals.

Jeff Guess

The Matter with Your Poem


some mawkish sentiment

at the start

and its subsequent

development into

self-conscious engagement

and dense expression.

Taken as a whole

you invoke none of the senses

and I can find no single


The writing is more

an exposition of prose

and there is an ongoing

fixation with the non-use

of any figurative language.

This style

of a kind of journaling

tells me more about you

in twenty lines

than I actually

want to know.

You eschew structure and form

and the writing sprawls

and falls

into the most


and disappointing denouement.

This is of course

only because you asked me,

and no – but thanks

I’ll pass up the opportunity

to see more

or buy the book

and find myself wishing instead

you were china painting,

collecting Kinder Surprise toys

or running in the next City

fun run.

Jeff Guess

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