FEARLESS AT 90 a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Photo by On Lim Wong

FEARLESS AT 90 a poem by Yuri Kageyama

I am fearless at 90

Wrinkles deep as the Nile

Hair translucent spiderwebs

Varicose veins throbbing blood

A map of fate on a carcass of skin

I am fearless at 90 

I rap poetry with my dentures

Jazz dance with my wobbly knees

I rock like Jimi Hendrix

We Boomers invented Revolution

I am fearless at 90

I’m so close to the pearly gates

I’m on speaking terms with the angels

I’m so near-sighted I read minds

My fungus breath slays dragons

I am fearless at 90

My wheelchair zips Ferrari-style

My voice resonates five octaves low

My cane duplicates as a samurai sword

My hearing aid just blocks out noise

I am fearless at 90  

I have no appointments to keep

No bosses to please

No dates to impress

No one can put me down

I am fearless at 90

I barely remember what’s up or down

Or who is where anymore;

Beyond gender, race, class,

Or even age

I am fearless at 90

My skin like washi paper

My fingers gnarled like a witch

I am neither man nor woman

White, black, brown or yellow.

I am just 90, and fearless:

Those days are long gone,

Not trusting anyone over 30,

I’ve given birth to a thousand children

And have a million grandchildren

I am fearless at 90

Although death is around the corner,

I’ve seen war and peace

Endured abuse to survive;

Don’t expect or need respect

I’m proud to be fearless at 90


Note from the poet:

I am not yet 90, but I feel this way and wrote this poem.

When I’m 90, I will write my real fearless at 90 poem.

The poem was published in the Winter 2024 issue of KONCH MAGAZINE.

Memorable Flowers _ A Haiku Poem by Yuri Kageyama

Memorable Flowers _ A Haiku Poem by Yuri Kageyama

high-school prom corsage
a lover’s bouquet on pay day
weeds your child picks for you


by Yuri Kageyama

gray frizz under
a baseball cap, he sweeps
his boxes clean

Revising haiku

I’ve decided to change the haiku from before to this:


I am here! Scattering
petals in the ditch

The way I had it before with 影のなか (In the shadows) was too regular/predictable haiku-like.
Today, on my way to work, I saw cherry trees bending over a muddy ditch.
I realized that image sent a stronger message about what I was feeling _ that the flowers bloom wherever they are, even if no one is watching or aware of its existence.
That to me is utter beauty and presence and life.
And a ditch still can be a good dark backdrop for cascading pink petals.

Sociology of shampoo

The success of Shiseido’s shampoo marketing offered me an opportunity to tell the story about Japanese women and their changing self-perception.
Beauty standards may seem trite _ more about self-asborbed conceit than anything else.
But the right to define beauty and see oneself (race, ethnicity, culture) as beautiful is an essential part of human rights.
One of the women I interviewed, Kaori Sasaki, a business consultant who has a Web page called ewoman, says today’s Japanese woman strives to be simple and organic in their lifestyles.
But that doesn’t mean she has to be digging around on a farm, growing vegetables.
The other key word is gorgeous, she says.
And so that ideal modern-day Japanese woman can be eating organic food and have down-to-earth values, but she may put on a glittering dress and go out.
She gets to have fun.
Still, looking at Race and Beauty never fails to get a bit depressing.
The combination seems to speak to the worst of our fetishes.
A feminist professor I spoke with, Teruko Inoue, told me the barriers of sex are especially pronounced in Japan because there aren’t as many other obvious non-gender ways to divide people for hierachical definitions as there are in other societies such as caste, race and ethnic groups.
So females have become synonymous with the underclass, the easiest to corner into exploitable labels.
Women have come to define the bottom rung of this allegedly (mythically) homogenous society.
This is insightful: Part-time workers are almost all female in Japan.
And women are grossly under-represented in Japanese management.
It’s hard being a woman in Japan.
And we’re so happy to be told, “Japanese women are beautiful,” we rushed out and bought shampoo!
Watch the TV ads here, and listen to the hit Smap tune, a Tsubaki original.
I don’t know why Unilever doesn’t retaliate with a Japanese version of the far more progressive Dove ads.
But maybe that concept won’t fly in Japan.
Shiseido meanwhile has more up its sleeve: a white Tsubaki.
The campaign blitz starts September: Stay tuned.