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Poem about the Chernobyl Catastrophe (May 23, 1986)

A long-feared nuclear disaster became a reality with the meltdown of a reactor in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The environmental movement spoke to the terrible consequences of the accident in the following poem, which accuses politicians of having failed to provide security and calls for renewed activism.

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They failed

What to do? Buy UHT milk or canned milk?
We don’t know.
Pay attention to expiration dates or half-life periods?
We don’t know.
Take an umbrella or a shower?
We don’t know.
Is the risk to children 23 times or only 17 times that to adults?
We don’t know.

It is about more than frozen food
and the question
of safe consumption of fresh spinach
in the right federal states.

Our politicians are playing dead.
Not a sound from the gentlemen, who so like to talk.

When truck drivers once
protested at the border
about processing delays,
Mr. Strauß drove out to the crisis area.
In an SUV.

When women can no longer let their children
play at the playground,
when farmers have to plow under their leaf vegetables,
when people are directly exposed to radiation risk,
not a word from the administration.
The state has gone underground.

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