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Thoughts on Japan and other monsters in the closet - the Writers' Club at Teen Central


We are all moved by the horrific disasters, natural and man-made, that have occurred in Japan.  When we met on March 17th a cataclysmic nuclear meltdown seemed quite possible and maybe imminent.  It was non-stop on the news, in our minds and conversations.  Many of the people who come to Teen Central on a regular basis are Manga fanatics and they have strong feelings about Japan and the dynamic impact its' culture has on their lives.  Even those of us who are not that into Manga realize that Japan, though physically far away, is closely linked every day to our economy and society.

After suffering through a major earthquake and a resulting Tsunami, the idea of a nuclear meltdown seemed unthinkable.  What would a nuclear tragedy do to Japan? Would we in New York be affected by radiation?  As we hoped for the best, we braced ourselves and wrote this collective poem.


Thoughts on Japan

A mother screams as waves explode;
Where’s Japan, my car, my clothes?
Thank God we’re not in Japan or are we?  
I’m washed upon the shores of loss
With trembling hands and bare feet,
Could someone give me a hand.
I need help—I really need it, I hear death breathing
I see a bird walking on sand

I see a foot
Cars and trucks are toys thrown in a pile
My mind remembers Three Mile Island
Rubble contained destruction
I could die waiting for its clearance
I don’t see but I could hear the sorrow
I don’t hear; I could paint my tomorrow
Hiroshima, two-bodies on fire
Warming up the earth
Babies with two heads
On the screen—don’t worry—again and again
Sumi, where are you my friend?

A Collaborative Poem by Lenny Collado, Joshua Colomer,
Fred Jerome & Rodger Taylor

In Japan many children have lost parents and homes.  Going forward who knows what being exposed to high levels of radiation will do to them?  This poem by Thandiwe which speaks to the dark fear of the unknown and how it can impact a child, echoes what many kids may be feeling in Japan, and unfortunately throughout the world, including right here in New York City. 

I don’t know why it’s so dark outside,
But, something tells me I should go inside.
The storm rages on as I snuggle in bed,
I am sleepy, but oddly I cannot rest.
My teeth are chattering, and I’m cold,
Oh I wish I were brave and bold.
The house is swaying from side to side,
I’m so very frightened I think I might die.


Suddenly I hear footsteps creeping
    in the shed,
I scramble cautiously out of my bed.
The footsteps enter from the back door,
I crawl into the closet concealed in clothes, and lie on the floor.
My hand are trembling violently,
And I cover my eyes so I cannot see.
The footsteps are ascending up the stairs.
I open my eyes if I dare.

Suddenly the feet pause in front
    of my room.
I peek through my fingers and seal the doom.
The knob is turning on the door.
Thunder booms outside and the rain pours.                                                 

by Robynby Robyn

The door is creaking open now,
I see a black glove, and a silver knife,
How and when will they strike?
The person comes in my room
    and shuts the door,
The back is turned; I can’t see any more.
The feet walk to the closet
    and pull open the door,
I shriek with all my might,
Afraid that I will live no more.

“I know you’re in there,” the voice says softly,
And a strong hand pulls me out.
Who can this be?
I am pushed towards the bed,
And the last thing I expect to see,
Is a cake that says,
    “Happy Birthday. Johnny!”

—Thandiwe McMillan

Finally we at the Writers' Club wish the best for the people of Japan, hope that folks here do everything they can to help or show support, and we really wish that somehow the nuclear monster in the Japan's closet turns out to be nothing more than a scary shadow that will evaporate soon, quickly with the rising sun.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

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