psalm 82: the man in the cubicle

while the refugee collects
scrap metal and copper wire,
the man in the cubicle counts down the seconds
then watches the camp disappear
in a tiny puff of black and white dust.

that’s all you are, you know, just
a bureaucrat in a cubicle
moving your joystick to the right and left
looking down at the worlds
you create and destroy.

how long will you stagger
in this state of willful darkness,
blindly defending the indefensible and
rationalizing away the unthinkable?

how long will the judge of all the earth
behave so unjustly?

the refugee farmer spits on the ground,
looks up and squints into the sun.
smiling for a camera he cannot see
he says,

those who dwell on high
will die like mere mortals,
they will sputter and fall like
every other ruler before them.

though this injustice is too much for me
to bear, i will not break.
even as your hellfire missiles rain down
i patiently await the final verdict.

Abraham Argues With God, Tokyo 1945

"The Flames of Kototoi Bridge—Memories of Losing my Family," painting by Kano Teruo

will you sweep away innocent with
the guilty what if there are
fifty innocent within the city will
you wipe out the place far be it from
you to do such a thing to
bring death upon the innocent the
M-69s which released 100-foot streams of fire upon
detonating sent flames rampaging through
densely packed wooden homes superheated air created
a wind that sucked victims into the flames and
fed the twisting infernos asphalt
boiled in the 1,800-degree heat with much of
the fighting-age male population at the war
front women children and the elderly
struggled in vain to battle the flames or flee
like other survivors nihei who escaped the fire with her
family intact said the bombing showed that war is
never justifiable those images in my mind can never
be erased she said i can see myself there the
flames all around me and i’m running for my
life shall not the judge of all the
earth act justly?

(Genesis 18:23-25 with AP article, “1945 Tokyo Firebombing Left Legacy of Terror, Pain” by Joseph Coleman)