all that bombs can do is kill

all that bombs can do is kill

by Ralph Hutchison

all that bombs can do is kill

and break and ruin and destroy

they can burn and they can poison

they can frighten and terrorize

they can corrupt and twist and incinerate

that is all they can do

bombs can not sing

they can not harmonize

they can not draw a bow across strings

bombs can not draw

they can not sketch a building

coriander or a flower

or a horse running in a pasture

bombs can not plant seeds or pull weeds

they can not lay color on canvas

they can not make a promise or keep it

they can not give birth to children

bombs can not laugh

they can not tell a joke or say thank you

they can not weep when it is time to leave

they can not hold an acceptance letter above their heads with a shout

they can not throw a child into the air, catch her whirling around, listening to her laugh full throated with delight

bombs can not design a flyer or a house plan or a building

they can’t design wall paper

or a textile print

or a monument

or a font

they can’t design anything

they only can design nothing

bombs can not cook

they can burn things, but they can’t make pad thai

or create a salty broth from scraps

or sauté mushrooms in butter and garlic

they can not steam rice or bake bread

oh, bombs can surprise

falling on your head in the night

spearing through the air faster than you can hear

launched by predator drones

bombs can surprise

but not like a puppy in a box on your birthday,

not like a small velvet box sitting on the dinner plate when you return to the table

not like the feel of your baby on your breast

bombs can not surprise like that

oh, bombs can make noise

they can whistle as they fall

they can shatter your eardrums just before they kill you

they can make your mother cry out just before she dies

they can make your brother sob all night long for weeks

they can make your neighbor groan as they try to lift the beam from his chest

bombs can not sing happy birthday

or chant na mu myo ho ren ge kyo

or sing be thou my vision

or whisper treasure of my life, crazy on you at bedtime

bombs can not say they have a dream

bombs can not write books

bombs can not compose

bombs can not make light except for an instant

bombs take away light and sound, vision and touch

bombs kill and destroy; they maim; they cause pain unendurable

bombs subtract, they never add

bombs lie, they never tell the truth

bombs are against, they are never for

bombs are despair, they are never hope

bombs fall, they never rise