Paul Tibbets piloted the Enola Gay over Hiroshima and named the plane for his mother

by J. David

ST: One last thing, when you hear people say, “Let’s nuke ’em,” “Let’s nuke these people,”
what do you think?
PT: Oh, I wouldn’t hesitate if I had the choice. I’d wipe ’em out. You’re gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but 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.

— excerpt from a 2002 interview in The Guardian

Over the city—vinculum intersecting at a point to a perfect V—
birds shuttling South in escape while mother asks
Paul, don’t those birds look like planes? Explaining that
the shortest distance between X and Y is always

birds shuttling south in escape along the quickest path from
the nest. Slowly spreading their feet onto the rug of the world
where the shortest distance between optimism and apathy is always
loss; is always the inevitable falling motion of everything that leaves

its nest. Slowly spreading its feet onto the rug of the world where
with bread we make hunger; with gods we make war.
Loss is always the inevitable falling motion of everything that comes from
men and our bombs. No prayer could lick our souls clean, so we claim

because of bread there is hunger; because of gods there is war.
Over the city—vinculum intersecting at a point to a perfect V—
the bomb and its shadow. No prayer could lick your soul clean then, so—
your mother, she asks don’t those planes look like birds?

J. David is a Ukrainian-American writer and MFA candidate in poetry at Cleveland State University, living in Cleveland, Ohio. They are the editor-in-chief of Flypaper Lit and serve as chief poetry critic for the Cleveland Review of Books. Their debut chapbook, Hibernation Highway, was released from Madhouse Press in 2020. A Baldwin House Fellow and member of the Sad Kid’s Superhero Collective, their work has appeared in The Rumpus, Salt Hill, Muzzle, Passages North, The Journal, and elsewhere.