Wake of the Tsunami, 2011

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“Wake of the Tsunami, 2011,” A Painting by Stephen R. Baum

Mimi Ahern

This painting, entitled “Wake of the Tsunami, 2011,” was painted by my nephew Stephen Baum. When he shared this painting with me I felt that others should see it, too, for I was stunned by its “terrible beauty” (words of the Irish poet, W.B. Yeats).

I brought it to the 5th Haiku Pacific Rim Conference as a way of expressing to our Japanese visitors the sadness we in America felt after the Tsunami devastation of 2011. I also thought the painting might inspire some to write or to write more. So I hung the painting and invited the Conferees to write a poem that it brought forth for them. Many did, and those poems are provided below.

As a way of introducing the painting, Naia suggested I write a Haibun. And so I took up the challenge of writing my first Haibun.

He watched the images on his television and read the words of destruction in his newspaper. Now, months later, he picks up a brush and with watercolor begins to paint.

shores of Japan
thousands of flip flops
with no feet

Poetry Inspired by Steven S. Baum’s Painting: “Wake of the Tsunami, 2011” written by Conferees at the 5th Haiku Pacific Rim Conference 2012

the choices we make
the choices taken from us
the choices of fate
will we dance
in this life or the next?

Roger Abe

even the roots of the tree
cast their shadows

Jerry Ball

walls of water
destroy all serenity
like an angry bird

Marcia Behar

flip flops without feet
all that’s recognizable
from our ruined lives

Marcia Behar



Ann Bendixen

new moon
the sound of the sea
too close

Alex Benedict

now wild flowers
instead of grave markers

Peg McAulay Byrd

closed for repair
Washington Monument
cracks thru and thru
was it the earthquake
or candidates’ lies?

Patrick Gallagher

what is held
what is not
so much flies away

Marilyn Hazelton

after the waves
ancestor raven watches
a sea of flip-flops

Phillip Kennedy

dark wings spread
blood sweetens the sea
thousands of hands and feet
churn in icy waters
the raven’s eyes gleam red

of new life
the egg
of a raven
burning in the nest

Genie Nakano

through black wings
fireballs of life

Jie Tian

Fukushima night
plum blossoms
          radiate dawn

Zinovy Vayman

both past and future
the nature of memory
—spring tsunami

Alison Woolpert

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