WHAT’S IN A NAME A Poem by Yuri Kageyama

What’s in a Name

By Yuri Kageyama

Oct. 17, 2021 at a Japan Writers Conference presentation on lyric poetry by Michael Frazier

Expanded Nov. 6, 2021.

Yuri in Japanese

Means “superior reasoning”

But all while I was growing up

I was Julie

Because no one can say Yuri

Though Julie really doesn’t sound like

Yuri Yoo-hoo You-lie   

Just a way to make sure a Kid gets it,

Who she is,

Yellow face gook smile slant eyes:

I was 6

When I was called the J-word,   

Funny how we remember

No matter how many years pass;

I was on the school bus,

The boy who yelled it out was laughing

(I came home and asked my father what it meant)

We are that missing face

That missing name, missing word, missing voice

Devoid of Definition,

That deep pathetic silence

Between meanings

Like a choked sigh drifting through history   

In that eternal American conversation

Between White

And Black