Curtis LeMay, His Almanac
Three days after the Meetinghouse raid on Tokyo,
LeMay sat in his command center on Tinian
with The World Almanac and Book of Facts,
1941 edition, its pages warped
from the tropical humidity,
its binding exuding a smell of home.
Methodically, the General composed
a list of Japanese cities in order of population.
According to the 1935 Imperial Census,
Osaka had a population of 2.9 million,
Nagoya had 1.1 million,
Kobe 900, 000,
Yokohama 700, 000.
Thus the almanac, thus the facts.
As the spring of 1945 advanced
LeMay dispatched daylight incendiary raids
to these cities, following the almanac,
to reduce the population of each.
By summer he was convinced
that the empire's surrender
could be achieved
without dropping the atomic bomb.
Benjamin Goluboff teaches English at Lake Forest College. In addition to some scholarly publications, he has placed imaginative work -- poetry, fiction, and essays -- in many small-press journals, recently Unbroken, Bird’s Thumb, and War Literature and the Arts. He is the author of Ho Chi Minh: A Speculative Life in Verse, and Other Poems (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2017). Some of his work can be read at www.lakeforest.edu/academics/faculty/goluboff/