MY TWO POEMS IN ISHMAEL REED’S KONCH

My Two Poems in Ishmael Reed’s KONCH

My two poems are published in Ishmael Reed’s KONCH online magazine Winter 2024 issue.

What a thrill. And what company I keep.

A BROKEN FRAME a poem by Yuri Kageyama

THE BROKEN FRAME a poem by Yuri Kageyama

The ambulances are screaming. We look up and see a big tear in a steel fame right by our apartment building. We wonder but figure it’s not a murder because we don’t read about it, and there aren’t that many murders in Tokyo. Every time we see the broken frame, we wonder who it could have been. And what might have driven this individual, whom we don’t know and never will know, male or female, young or old, happy or unhappy, probably unhappy, literally over the ledge to a dark deep definitive leap of death. It does not make us feel very good. Every time we see that broken frame. A few weeks later, the frame gets fixed. And we stop wondering.  

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.

NOTHING HAPPENS A poem/song by Yuri Kageyama

NOTHING HAPPENS なにもおこらない

A poem/song written and read by Yuri Kageyama

Featuring Tea on vocals and the YURICANE band with Hideyuki Asada (guitar, arrangement, audio mastering), Hiroshi Tokieda (bass) and Takuma Anzai (drums).

Photo by On Lim Wong.

I started working on this song in February 2019. It’s finally finished in 2023, as a recording, with singing and music. The piece is about how people like to talk about “what’s happening” or what’s going to happen. But most of the time, nothing happens. And nothing needs to happen. If anything, it can be a good thing when nothing happens. With the pandemic unfolding, the song became for me more pertinent than ever. I reworked the song to reflect that. In June 2020, I added the rap section in Japanese that refers to the death of George Floyd. We must not forget how precious those moments are when horrible things that can happen don’t happen, and we can just sit back and enjoy the passage of time, when utterly nothing happens.

Nothing happens なにもおこらない

_ a poem/song by Yuri Kageyama

(1)

Nothing happens

Bombs no longer falling

Nations aren’t killing

Nothing happens

^___<

(2)

Nothing happens

Women aren’t screaming

Children aren’t starving

Nothing happens

^___<

(BRIDGE)

なにもおこらない

このきもち

なにもおこらない

しずけさ

^___<

(4)

Nothing happens

The stars will shine  

Behind clouds that hide   

Nothing happens    

^___<

(5)

Nothing happens

Birds, blossoms remind

The passing of time

Nothing happens

^___<

(rap section)

Nothing happens

We took it for granted

Nothing is boring

Nobody up to no good  

Looking for something

Something to happen

Before the coronavirus   

Now we wake up to numbers

Pray the curve gets flattened  

Pray it’s no one we know

Waiting for a vaccine

Scared by the sirens

Italy, New York, Spain, Wuhan, Tokyo

Now nothing else happens

Nothing else can happen

Now you know it:

Now you wish you didn’t wish it

Now you know for sure you like it

When Nothing happens

Yeah, Nothing happens

なにもおこらない

死ぬまえ

のこる生命で

えらんだ言葉

息ができない

彼のおもい

アメリカの差別

歴史のおもい

すべてすごくて

言葉がない

息ができない

息ができない

You know that’s the view:

No news is good news,

It’s so quiet you can hear it

Silence is the music

When NOTHING HAPPENS

^___<

なにもおこらない

このきもち

なにもおこらない

しずけさ

^__<

Nothing happens

The Virus descends     

Like a stranger of death     

Nothing happens

^___<

Nothing happens

We can forget the rest  

How we miss those days   

When Nothing happens

^—–<

And this is how the song all started; the clip below is from while it’s in the works (Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa):

Yuri Kageyama · NOTHING HAPPENS a poem/song by Yuri Kageyama with guitar/arrangement by Hide Asada

My other Virus Song (a side B to NOTHING HAPPENS if this were a CD like back in the good old days)

I AM THE VIRUS a poem written and read by Yuri Kageyama with piano by Nobutaka Yamasaki

photo by Ong Lim Wong

I am the virus

I thrive on mossy envious egos

They keep showing up

Offices, clubs, picnics,

Choosing being seen, hoarding

Over social dis-tan-cing

I am the virus

I fester in corona-shaped clusters

Commuter trains, cruises, crowds  

Peering at the Olympic torch,

I love the naming “Chinese virus”

The taunts, attacks on slant-eyed people

I am the virus

I cower when folks stay in

Takeout food, work from home,

A meter apart on solitary walks,

Wearing masks, washing hands,

Mixing aloe and alcohol

I am the virus

The crazy evil devoured

By doctors, vaccines, canceled concerts

Turning into live-streamed music,

People who remember to tell those they love

How much they really love them.

My 2015 Story on the Kamikaze

I still like this Story I did for The Associated Press some time ago when I interviewed a former kamikaze pilot. It was still online at The Detroit News.

HAIKU FOR MY FATHER by Yuri Kageyama

HAIKU FOR MY FATHER by Yuri Kageyama

A dead man’s desk

Snacks he’s forbidden to eat

Magic tricks for grandchildren

My father died in his 70s, a big man with big ambitions, prone to cruelty and violence but just as quick with his brilliance, generosity and humor. He calmed down a bit with age. And it was natural he was far more loved by his grandchildren, who found him just hilarious, than by his daughters, who had found him oppressive. His desk upstairs had to be cleaned out after he died. My mother found bags of treats like nuts and kakinotane he was secretly eating, because his doctors had put him on a strict diet for his heat condition. She also found toy magic tricks he had also bought secretly and had been practicing to impress his grandchildren. They adored him, played games, ran around outside with him, going fishing or going on goofy rides at a tiny park. They would laugh and laugh with this old roly-poly man, who was really just one of them, never mind he was a former NASA engineer and university professor. My mother used to say my father always acted as though he couldn’t care less if his grandchildren visited or not. She wondered why he would say such an obviously untruthful thing. That was my father, too proud and too big and strong to admit to any weakness, like missing his grandchildren. There is nothing as heartbreaking as love because even love must come to an end with death. But love that can’t be expressed openly, and must be stashed away like magic tricks in the drawer of a desk. I don’t know what to call such love. But it is love.

Haiku For Toru by Yuri Kageyama

Haiku For Toru by Yuri Kageyama

deleting emails

name of dead colleague pops up

i’m thinking of you

^___<

Funny how the most unpoetic of activities can become all of a sudden emotional. That, to me, is a haiku moment. And I tried to capture that, as well as honor and express my gratitude for the long years of working with this colleague. I know I will think about him, now and then, like today. Feb. 9,2023.

My Mother’s Mink _ A poem by Yuri Kageyama

My Mother’s Mink

A poem by Yuri Kageyama

my mother’s mink

sleeps in a drawer

so silken soft;

she longed for it

like her jewels,

a bit of an embarrassment;

the Marilyn Monroe generation,

she went to college, spoke English

my mother’s mink

silent like a corpse,

all the fuzzy rodents,

womb cradling fetus;

once there was life;

I can’t get myself to

throw it out  

but I will never wear it

MY POETRY IN LIFE AND LEGENDS

My Poetry in Life and Legends

My poetry is in great company here in LIFE AND LEGENDS Twelfth Edition
July 15, 2022, Irvine, CA, USA. Thanks to the Editor-in-Chief: Kalpna Singh-Chitnis.

HAIKU FOR BASHO a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Haiku for Basho a poem by Yuri Kageyama

May 3, 2022

眼差しを

無に流すかな

芭蕉のかわ

He is still watching,

Though washed away to nothing-

Ness, Basho’s River