Letter to Simic from Boulder

Article excerpt

Richard Hugo's "Letter to Sirnic from Boulder" was included with three other poems in the "Talking American Poetry" issue of Summer 1975. It was later included with similar poems in his collection, 31 Letters and 13 Dreams (1977). These poems were written in a period when he was suffering from loneliness and alcoholism following the failure of his first marriage; the letters were an attempt to reach out from that loneliness. Hugo served in the army air corps during World War II.

Dear Charles: And so we meet once in San Francisco and I learn I bombed you long ago in Belgrade when you were five. I remember. We were after a bridge on the Danube hoping to cut the German armies off as they fled north from Greece. We missed. Not unusual, considering I was one of the bombardiers. I couldn't hit my ass if I sat on the Norden or rode a bomb down singing The Star Spangled Banner. I remember Belgrade opened like a rose when we came in. Not much flak. I didn't know about the daily hangings, the 80,000 Slavs who dangled from German ropes in the city, lessons to the rest. I was interested mainly in staying alive, that moment the plane jumped free from the weight of bombs and we went home. What did you speak then? Serb, I suppose. And what did your mind do with the terrible howl of bombs? What is Serb for "fear"? It must be the same as in English, one long primitive wail of dying children, one child fixed forever in dead stare. …


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