Below are the poems that were read as part of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 20th Annual Sadako Peace Day event on August 6, 2014 at La Casa de Maria Retreat Center in Montecito, California.
by Tony Johansen
When it comes
Will be like buttercups
Blooming, one at a time
In an endless field
Until there are so many buttercups
You can’t imagine anything else
So many buttercups
In a field so endless
That the boots that are left
Will be compelled to walk gently
And when they can’t
They’ll say, “I’m sorry.”
I Dream of Sadako
by Susanna Johansen
Lovely little girl
delicate and graceful hands
dark and shining eyes
cheerful yet resolute –
Death marches toward you
and is slowed
by the power of your intention
as you fold paper
into wings that fly.
I like to imagine
that I had no part
in this drama
which took place
before my birth.
I am from the land of Harry Truman.
He spoke of his wife with honest admiration.
He had a way of making a tuxedo look
as comfortable as an old flannel shirt.
It makes me feel better
that we are good people
who only go to war
for good reasons.
I saw you in my dream last night.
Your legs went weak beneath you
and suddenly you sat down
on the soft earth.
You were amazed to look around you
in the last moments of your life,
that the world was illuminated
by a glow the color of rose quartz.
“Do you see the light?”
And we stepped toward you
asking you to stay.
Your eyes were bright
and full of forgiveness.
“The love light is so beautiful,”
you said with amazement.
“Do not turn off the light.”
CRANES on Sadako Peace Day
by Bettina T. Barrett
A crane an orange paper crane
I folded almost ten years ago
to celebrate my 75th birthday
now sits beside the figure of
a meditating cat
this crane in memory
of a poet-friend who died
and left me feeling very alone
there are certain mornings when a shaft
of sunlight strikes this crane
lights up her color that orange
of fire of dawn’s breaking
and again I do the folding
of words of thoughts that fly
attach themselves to trees
gracefully drape over bushes colors
of rainbows a thousand cranes folded
the fingers of hope
each one of us spread wide
I look at my crane
I look at all these cranes
and see them again and again
how that once-oh-so-bright-flare
of light hit the ground that heat
that fire that giant wound opened –
and still it burns
so I take the piece of paper
fold and fold with now-stiffened fingers ….
by David Krieger
When considering the possibilities
of finding intelligent life in the universe
I struggle not to become cynical
and blurt out: shouldn’t we be searching
for it here on our planet? I refrain,
for surely there is intelligent life on Earth.
It can be found in the songs of birds,
in the roar of lions, in the conversations
of dolphins. It can also be found
in the songs and dances and literature
of humans. I want to scream, it is here,
here on Earth. We’ve come so far,
there’s no acceptable reason we won’t
keep going, no reason we can’t solve
the great problems that are engulfing us.
Our ancestors solved problems far
more difficult than the splitting of the atom
or the extraction of fossil fuels from the earth.
They tamed fire, invented the wheel,
sailed across oceans navigating by the stars.
Yes, there is intelligent life here,
embedded in our history and our brains,
intelligent life that just might see us through
if we can keep our cynicism in check and
our hope alive.