Our Humanity – Three Poems by Genny Lim

By Genny Lim. Posted August 30, 2018.

We live in an age defined by wars and mass migration. The greatest violence committed against humanity was the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing over 80,000 people instantly. It has been 73 years since the tragedy and sadly, the world has not succeeded in banning nuclear arms and if anything, has heightened the threat of war and annihilation with Trump’s threats against North Korea and Iran. Now he’s requesting a budget of $716 billion for national defense. We pay for these wars with our tax dollars at the expense of human services, education, healthcare, housing, etc. But the real cost is our humanity. It is always innocent civilians, the women and children, the mothers tasked with feeding and sheltering their children in the crosshairs of flying bullets and missiles, running through the rubble, ruins and ashes of their former lives, who have no say.  – Genny Lim

Pika Don

Where did the people go?

A flash of white light

beneath dark clouds

A thunderous, deafening

roar exploding the sky

Where did time go?

The shamisen stops

Doesn’t know the difference

between the song and the singer

The dreamer stops dreaming

Doesn’t know the difference

between sleep or death

One breath is all it takes

for time to disappear

Like the butterfly

unattached to its pupa

Like the glide of fingers

over shamisen strings

Like cry of a shakuhachi

mourning spring

We are born to die

Search for a familiar face

A tiny spark of life among

deserted streets of upturned

carts and smoldering flesh

War and peace are a chess game

Impossible to know the exact

moment when milk turns to curd or

when a caterpillar becomes butterfly

Life and death are of one cloth

One moment is all it takes for

an empire that exults in

the glory of conquest

to be destroyed

A flash of blinding white light

at 8:15 in the morning

Black Rain falling in

a shroud of darkness

Pika don

Children of the Mushroom


Orphans of the bomb

Forbidden to forget

Doomed to remember

Never again

One breath is all it takes

for a pupa to burst free

by Genny Lim

Aug. 6, 1945

First Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m. killing 80,000 people instantly

Aug. 9, 1945.

Fat Man dropped at 4 a.m. killing 40,000 people instantly.

pika – flash (of light)

don- bomb, thunder

Senshin Buddhist Temple, Los Angele, CA 2018

On the exodus of Palestinians into Egypt:


In clear, blue space

a funnel cloud spins

into its vortex

Flesh, form, custom and oaths

Country and possessions jettisoned

in one breath

And it is we, women, who suffer all

like nuns cloistered in shadows

under eaves and mangroves

our desires small and undecipherable

as dust motes

by Genny Lim

Jan. 23, 2008


por Genny Lim
Traducción de Toshiya Kamei

En un espacio claro y azul
un nube de embudo gira
en su vórtice
La carne, la forma, la costumbre y los juramentos
El país y las posesiones echados por la borda
de un tirón
Y somos nosotras las mujeres quienes sufrimos todo
como monjas encerradas en las sombras
bajo los aleros y los mangles
nuestros deseos tan pequeños e indescifrables
como el polvo

Persephone Unbound


Constant as the moon


Resilient as earth


the first refugee

to cross the sea

when the conquest of

of living beings drove

her in four directions

like a lost bird

with broken dreams

to beget a progeny

of homeless exiles

Woman, holding a broom

her universe, a womb

of scattered seed

“for which the future to grow”

before trigger and cannon fire

hunger and disease

torture and war

to escape the scavengers

who dig the earth with

iron claws and cross

for the gold of the gods

and the rape of her

smooth brown skin

Woman in flight

the avenging angel

of the Diaspora

on the pyre of fate

with arms outstretched

hair in flames

and eyes aglow

under cover of night

like shooting stars

by Genny Lim

*The phrase, “for which the future to grow” is borrowed from Eduaordo Galleano’s, Century of Wind, Memory of Fire.

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