A Bomb, Peace, and Poetry

I do not know just how horrible Bombdeath is I can only imagine
Scores and scores A fumble of humanity High heels bend
Hats whelming away Youth forgetting their combs
Ladies not knowing what to do with their shopping bags

Excerpt from Bomb, Gregory Corso

Random excerpts from Gregory Corso’s famed Bomb, the poem printed out to resemble a nuclear mushroom cloud which quickly became one of the beat generation’s manifestos. Unmistakable Italian roots, the poet was buried in Rome’s Protestant Cemetery next to Percy Bysshe Shelley’s tomb. If Rome’s chaotic discombobulation becomes too much, head to the Poets’ Grave and take in the peace and quiet, set in a stunning garden right next to the Pyramid of Cestius.


Wandering in peace and quiet. Peace – what a unique concept in this day and age. Currently, 59 wars are underway from Afghanistan, Libya, Myanmar, Palestine to Nigeria. The Russian invasion in Ukraine is just the last of a long, devastating, relentless, violent list. Humanity is at risk – and with us, the fate of our planet. And it looks like we really don’t care that much.

Let’s keep on meandering in the beat generation, and listen Bob Dylan as he sang that the times they are a-changing at the start of the ‘60s. And in today’s indifferent world, they’re changing indeed – but for the worse. Peace movements and protests against the threat of a nuclear war and the Vietnam conflict were part of everyday life back in the 1960s: monumental gatherings, music, events, words and protests spread across all the Western world. And were partially responsible for its changes. And today our digital bubble has stunned us into submission – we’ll tune in for the Queen’s funeral, but can’t react to the terrible news which reaches us, day in, day out. We don’t seem to be interested in how Putin is this close to going nuclear, or that people may be shot down near Zaporizhzhia. Fiction takes precedence – after all, Chernobyl was one of the most watched TV series in recent history – and, when it doesn’t, we turn a blind eye to reality.

Why, why don’t we say a word? Maybe it’s due to the fact the world is drowning in anguish – melting glaciers, energy prices shooting through the roof – and acknowledging that is just too much. Depression would ensue. We’re inured to bad news to the point the threat of a nuclear meltdown will stop us in our tracks. The Word Cup is around the corner, anyway, so who cares if their organisation has been a sell-out? After all, money can buy and silence everything. Ah autumn – what a great season for a match on TV, regardless of how many lives have been lost for it to happen. All will be well.

As Gregory said, “Sometimes hell is a good place — if it proves to one that because it exists, so must its opposite heaven, exist. And what was that heaven? Poetry.” Poetry may just very well save us.