The Furies Visit the Smithsonian


Poem by Michael Gallagher in memory of Hiroshima Day

With a flash that seared and blinded,
the blue August sky burst open
above the bridge,
a bridge, this time,
over the Potomac.

The Eumenides had never tired
though their pursuit had taken the
better part of a century.
Humorless as these ladies were,
they had no concern for
irony except as it might enhance
the vengeance that they were bent on.

One moment it stood gleaming
in all its lethal glory,
The next it was gone,
along with the Novaks
of Cleveland–Charlie and Fran,
Brandon and Haley and little
Campion, asleep in his stroller,
and Debbie, Charlie’s mother,
as she aimed the camera and said “Smile!”,
all alike transmuted to vapor.
Some of which
had lived and loved,
some of which
had been the Enola Gay.

Michael Gallagher, a coeval of Sr. Megan and a former Jesuit seminarian, served as a paratrooper during the Korean War.  His book on Catholic activists, The Laws of Heaven, won the National Jesuit Book Award in theology in 1992, and his translation of Yukio Mishima’s Spring Snow was a finalist for the National Book Award in translation in 1972.

The original title of this post was, “The Eumenides Visit the Smithsonian.”  The Eumenides was the third part of Aeschylus’ Greek tragedy, the Oresteia, in which, “Orestes is hunted down and tormented by the Furies, a trio of goddesses known to be the instruments of justice.”

One thought on “The Furies Visit the Smithsonian

  1. Anal Retentive Android

    America, the global hemorrhoid,
    Awaits arrival of an asteroid
    A karmic retribution from the void
    In payment for the human life destroyed
    With any-and-all weaponry employed
    By “leadership” inept and rheumatoid;
    Enthralled by dreams imbibed from celluloid;
    Frustrated, hateful, angry, and annoyed
    At all who’ve somehow managed to avoid
    The deaths America has so enjoyed
    Dispensing over decades. Paranoid,
    Its useless legions still abroad deployed
    Bankrupting the US, itself devoid
    Of any future, leaving overjoyed
    A world to savor Peace (and Schadenfreude).

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2020

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