Poets and Poems that have inspired us.

Sometimes, along with the great poems in our literature,  other voices also reach us — that touch us in that place that longs to be truly human.  Here are a few —  known and not so known — that  we encountered doing Poems for Peace. 

Radical Innocence

If you have any doubt about the power of a POEM to remind us of what it means to be human, read this little poem written by a 13 year-old boy from India.  He was so happy to be studying in an English speaking school.  

 

A few weeks after we received his poem back in August of 2012, he was killed in a rickshaw accident.
 

What is Important

by Ligori J. (1998-2012)
 

A word is important

To construct a sentence.

A sentence is important

To frame a question.

A question is important

To get an answer.

An answer is important

To master a subject.

A subject is important

To acquire knowledge.

Knowledge is important

To understand the world.

The world is important

To lead a happy life.

Life is important

To save our soul.

Our soul is important

To reach our creator.

 

Myra Margolin, volunteering for Susila Dharma International’s ANESHA project in India, knew the child and sent the poem on to us. The boy’s parents subsequently sent on his photo, and
we use it with their permission.

Peace Begins with Ourselves

 

Atlanta artist Sal Brownfied's Celebration of Healing: Lives Touched by Breast Cancer, went from an exhibition to a best seller. Brownfield had become deeply moved by this experience of art as a language of healing — and how each subject facing cancer, found within themselves a strength they didn't know they had before.

 

 

“Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.”
 
— Pablo Neruda

Recipe for Peace

by Devreaux Baker*

 

Bare your feet, roll up your sleeves

oil the immigrant's bowl

 

open the doors and windows of your house

invite in the neighbors, invite in strangers off the street

 

roll out the dough, add the spices for a good
    life

cardamon and soul, cumin and tears

 

stir in sesame and sorrow, a dash of salt

pink as new hope

 

rub marjaram and thyme, lemon grass and
    holy basil

on your fingers and pat the dough

 

bless the table, bless the bread

bless your hands and feet

 

bless the neighbors and strangers

off the street

 

bake the bread for a century or more

on a moderate heat

 

under the olive trees in your back yard

or on the sun filled stones of Syria

 

in the white rocks of Beirut

or behind the walls of Jerusalem

 

in the mountains of Afghanistan

and in the sky scrapers of New York

 

feast with all the migrant tongues

until your mouth understands

 

the taste of many different homes

and your belly is full so you fall asleep

 

cradled in the skirts of the world

curled in the lap of peace.

 

 

California poet Devreaux Baker was awarded first prize in the 2014 Nuclear Foundation for Peace's Barbara Manigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards. She was also awarded Honorable Mention in SICA's 2012 Poem for Peace Competition. Her latest book of poems, "Out of the Bpnes of Earth" is published by Wild Mountain Press. 

Amazing Peace

by Maya Angelou

 

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft.   Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

 

We tremble at the sound.
We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, and comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

 

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and      
    Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace.  We look at each other, then into
    ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or
    hesitation:

 

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

"One eye sees, the other feels."                                — Paul Klee

 

Senecio

by Emmanuel Williams

 

The head in a painting by Paul

Is as round as a plate or a ball

With a mouth made of squares

Red eyes and no hair

At first it makes no sense at all/

 

If ever I met Mr. Klee
I'd ask why he painted this way.

He'd probably smile

Like a mischievous child:

The answer's inside you, he'd say

 

Could it be a clown, blushing pink?

Or a robot who's trying to wink?

The mouth is shut tight

The eyes have no sight

I really don't know what to think.

 

For hours I gazed at this head

In a silence as deep as the dead

Till a message came through

"You are me, I am you"

At least I think that's what it said.

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