GIFTS FROM THE DEAD a poem by Yuri Kageyama

GIFTS FROM THE DEAD
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Graves are always There
for those Who are still
Alive to Forgive
Accept Reconcile.
They don’t Speak Back.
They don’t expect much
because
they are ready
to be Forgotten
if not
really already
Forgotten.
So when You
Go There, You
will Be Forgiven:
Grave are Gifts
from the Dead
for the Living.

At a temple in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Photo by Yuri Kageyama.

At a temple in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Photo by Yuri Kageyama.

My Poem “ode to the stroller” now part of the Public Poetry Series

My Poem “ode to the stroller” now part of the Public Poetry Series.
Poetry by Yuri Kageyama.
Read by Hirokazu “Jackson” Suyama.
Film by Adam Lewis.

we zip weightless like silent angels
up and down San Francisco hills
running on the mother of all energy
greener than solar
rolling rolling rolling
with laughter
cream acid rock ‘n’ rolling
lightning dazzling wheels
gara-gara-gara-gara
teethers jangling dangling dancing
going mad on strangle-free rubbery ribbons
up and down the Avenues
J-town, Clement Street
Golden Gate Park
Museum of Modern Art
we are singing:
“Ouma no oyako wa nakayoshi koyoshi
itsudemo issho ni pokkuri pokkuri aruku”
perfume wind in our hair
springing over potholes
not even stopping just for breast feeds
connected as one through this magical machine
me pushing
you riding
the Lamborghini of strollers
the Gundam of strollers
the little train that could of strollers
up up up into the joyous clouds
zooming wheeeeee
down slurping slopes
around swervacious curves
we are one
yes, we are one
tied in the past with our
umbilical cord
and
even in death
in our dreams

a poem for Kenji Goto, a journalist, Feb. 1, 2015, by Yuri Kageyama

a poem for Kenji Goto, a journalist, Feb. 1, 2015
by Yuri Kageyama

i have already written about you
another journalist
your story as a hostage
somewhere far away
in a wind-blowing desert
your story about
how it all ended
today
i do not know you
but i have to write something
else for you
this poem
it just doesn’t seem right
unless i do
people say you cared
you were great to work with
you will live on in our hearts
you laugh in your own videos
“No matter what happens to me,”
you say before you leave,
“I will always love the people of Syria.”
you are calm
you look straight into the camera
you are gentle in your death
you are brave in your death
i just have to write this
in even that video
you are beautiful

HIROSHIMA a poem by Yuri Kageyama read with Kaoru Watanabe

HIROSHIMA

A poem by Yuri Kageyama
A reading by Yuri Kageyama
With Kaoru Watanabe of Kodo on fue flute, taiko drum and other percussion.
Recorded at Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Studio in Brooklyn New York
For a memorial for poet, publisher and educator Virgina Scott at Lehman College, the Bronx, New York
September 20, 2014.

they wander like a whisper
still
over this city
blending with the sea breeze
the soft light
the cracks of scars
not just one ghost or two
but tens of thousands
who all looked up and saw a flash
turning people into dead globs of charcoal;
there are no photos from that day,
they wander, crawling, naked, moaning,
flesh hanging like tatters;
they’re asking that question,
we did nothing wrong
why oh why
when all it can do is
kill kill kill kill
nothing else
turning skin eyeballs laughter head back legs
into a keloid of hell,
but no one really answers.

IMG_3244 kaoru

This is what death feels like _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

This is what death feels like
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

it is the end
you are gone
no more
it is only a dream so i
decide this must be what death is like
not your death, but my own
it is the end
you are gone
no more
my throat is hot with weeping
my eyes are blind from searching for you
my heart is bleeding with emptiness
it is the end
you are gone
no more
how can i keep on living
knowing only this waits ahead, i can’t,
this certain separation, this death
it is the end
you are gone
no more
but wait, this calm i own
when you are here now, close by,
or not so close, but somewhere
it is the end
you are gone
no more
this is what death feels like
i am always close to you, total, perfect
and it doesn’t matter
it is the end
you are gone
no more

HIROSHIMA _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

hiroshima
photo by Yuri Kageyama

HIROSHIMA
a poem by Yuri Kageyama and the Yuricane

Hirokazu Suyama on drums, Hiroshi Tokieda on bass and Yuuichiro Ishii on guitar.
Film by Adam Lewis.
At the Japan Writers Conference in Okinawa Nov. 2, 2013.

they wander like a whisper
still
over this city
blending with the sea breeze
the soft light
the cracks of scars
not just one ghost or two
but tens of thousands
who all looked up and saw a flash
turning people into dead globs of charcoal;
there are no photos from that day,
they wander, crawling, naked, moaning,
flesh hanging like tatters;
they’re asking that question,
we did nothing wrong
why oh why
when all it can do is
kill kill kill kill
nothing else
turning skin eyeballs laughter head back legs
into a keloid of hell,
but no one really answers.

HAIKU SERIES by YURI KAGEYAMA

Photo by Hirokazu Suyama, drummer.

Photo by Hirokazu Suyama, drummer.

HAIKU SERIES
by Yuri Kageyama

Waaaaaah! So much like Wow!
A Child. Fluttering Sakura.
Language. A Moment.

わあああ!でも ワウ!でも
ちるさくらみる子
言葉は無

~~~~

a blue plastic bag
so hard so still no more
Tokyo train tracks

青いシート
もうかたくなり
東京の駅

~~~

in my deathly dreams
your sweet breath, fat knees, wet hands
a child forever

甘い息
死んで夢見る
赤ちゃんの手

~~~~

timeless tweet timeline
scroll blindly touch-panel light
mumbles of loneliness

タイムレス 
孤独のつぶやき
みずスクロール

~~~~

stained glass
nudging colors into light
my wife’s fingers

ステンドグラス
ひかりを染める
妻のゆび

~~~~

dead grandchild
a blurring thought lost in wrinkles
skin lotion’s smell

なき孫が
小皺に霞む
化粧水

~~~~

at Hamanako
forgetting burying
beatings by my father

浜名湖に
沈め忘れる
父の虐待

~~~~

Red over green
You got that right, Matisse
Then Today Forever.

グリーンよりあか
そのときもいまも
せいかい

~~~~

spring morning
pink explodes
chiffon whirls

春の朝
ピンクが爆
発シフォン舞う

Why the Japanese Love Michael Jackson, an essay by Yuri Kageyama

Why the Japanese Love Michael Jackson
By YURI KAGEYAMA

“MY-keh-rooh,” as Japanese fans adoringly call him, never had to worry about being perceived a wacko-weirdo here _ a culture where neoteny, or the celebration of juvenile traits, and the cross-gender persona, as in effeminate men and masculine women, are at the core of this nation’s highest art forms.
Japanese are used to seeing in its top artists the very traits that some Westerners found so creepy and appalling in Michael Jackson.
It’s not surprising Japanese, long known for their worship of American musicians and movie stars, came out screaming and cheering at sell-out stadiums during Jackson’s “Thriller”-day heights of the 1980s.
But Japanese came out screaming and cheering even in recent years when Jackson was in Tokyo for shopping sprees at gadget stores, visits to Disneyland and Joypolis, an amusement park run by game-maker Sega, and tightly orchestrated events for fans, where he didn’t sing a single note or glide a single Moon-walk.
He was MY-keh-rooh, the gloved man-child, sweet, innocent, pure _ and oh, so “kawaii.”
Kawaii literally translates as “cute.” But the Japanese has none of the connotations of sexuality associated with the word in the West.
An old man, a subcompact car, something as innocuous as an umbrella, digital camera or kitchen utensil, even something grotesque like a horror-film creature can be potentially kawaii.
Kawaii is about the emotion evoked by a child from its parent, and so is linked in the Japanese mind with the most basic and honorable instinct for the preservation of the species.
It is about love. And it is virtuous.
Kawaii-ness is the keystone of artistic sensibilities from as far back as the Edo Period, prevalent in Hokusai woodblock prints. It is very much alive today in “manga” comics filled with doe-eyed heroes, as well as in the Mickey-Mouse parody sculptures and drawings of Takashi Murakami.
By Western standards, kawaii is embarrassingly frivolous _ like an adult being caught clutching a stuffed animal.
But it’s taken very seriously in Japanese art.
So the King of Pop cavorting on amusement-park rides, cuddling Bubbles the chimp, collecting dolls and playing with children are far more easily accepted as normal adult behavior in Japanese culture.
It is aesthetically almost a modern-day “Tale of Genji,” a floating-world quest for the essence of beauty in a child.
Fans worshiped Jackson not only for his obviously dazzling singing and dancing talents.
As neoteny believers, they were able to take at face value without the cynical doubts, more typical of the Western intelligentsia, his “We Are the World” messages on peace and spirituality.
Jackson could do no wrong as a kawaii guy with his soft velvety voice and shy quiet mannerisms, even as his nose changed sizes and his skin changed tones, no matter.
Take any Japanese MJ fan. Ask him or her whether Jackson is kawaii. And the answer would be a definitive “Yes.”
Jackson was a genius at perpetually staying the child. Even in his final photos, he looks pretty kawaii, especially for a man in his 50s.
Jackson was a master at blurring social barriers, and his denials of such definitions went beyond just age: Black, he looks white. Male, he looks so pretty he is asexual.
That is another reason why Jackson has endeared himself to the Japanese psyche.
A womanly male is about as high as one can get in the pinnacle of Japanese art, as evident in the world of Kabuki, where all roles, including those of women, are played by men.
As a counterpoint to this male-oriented theater is the world of Takarazuka, where all roles, including those of men, are played by women.
Japan is still such a sexually divided society, despite the recent advancement of women, people enjoy the escape that art offers in seeing categorizations turned upside down.
Perhaps it can be said that social definitions are so rigid in the mainstream an artist, by definition, is expected to defy them.
In Kabuki, the denials of convention extend to age. An 80-year-old master routinely plays a teen-age village damsel, and a proper Japanese won’t blink an eye.
Akihiro Miwa is an example of a highly respected artist who has made his fame on being a transvestite, the kind of character more common in San Francisco Finnochio’s in the West, not the acclaimed works of Yukio Mishima and Shuji Terayama, in which Miwa was the star.
In his early years, Miwa still looked more or less like a man but wore makeup. These days, he wears evening gowns, sports blonde curls and speaks in the language of women. Japanese love him and seek him out for career advice as though he is a shaman.
Jackson appears rather sedate next to the bejeweled Miwa or the 80-year-old Kabuki master.
Jackson’s death was big news in Japan. But the national mourning was not a splashy loud affair. Fans came out to buy the CDs they still didn’t have in their collection. They watched his videos together at Tower Records. They just wanted to be there, they said, to share that moment with others of like minds. Never mind they had the videos at home.
To the fans, Jackson was a beautiful person.
They became almost weepy when they talked about the allegations of child molestation he had endured. It worked out as a a boon for Jackson that Japanese tend to be mistrustful of the justice system. There are just too many cases of wrongful imprisonment. The first ever jury trial started only in 2009, the year of Jackson’s death.
In one high-profile case, Toshikazu Sugaya, a bus driver, served 17 years of a life sentence after being convicted of charges of murdering a 4-year-old, because of police profiling him as a pedophile, as well as because of coerced confessions that experts say are common in this nation’s police investigations.
Sugaya was released in 2009, after a long legal struggle, and only after DNA tests proved his innocence. Japanese suspect there are many like Sugaya in the prisons, and he was just lucky he had DNA tests.
Jackson was acquitted of all charges in 2005.
Media reports surfaced shortly before his death that Jackson had shown an interest in a young Japanese gymnast and had wanted to meet her.
Perhaps they would have married, some speculative but excited reports suggested _ if only he hadn’t died.
It would have been a marriage made in heaven for Japan.
In true exaltation, we could have witnessed Jackson obliterate yet another painful divisive barrier _ that of insider vs. outsider, or the Japanese vs. the “gaijin” foreigner.
By taking a Japanese wife, he would have almost turned Japanese, becoming one of us.

Food Is Life Food is People _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Food is Life Food is People _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

ガリガリに痩せた子供の写真みたり
お腹からチューブで栄養を与えられてる病院の父をみたくなかったり
毎日普通にたべ
時々楽しく外食
いきている
SNSで
ひとのランチなんてくだらなくてみてられないなんて言うヤツは
記者の資格
無い
ちゃんとみて社会をかんじろ
色鮮やかなサラダだろうがゆげまで写ってるラーメンだろうがコンビニだろうが海辺のカクテルだろうが
世界中のお父さんや子供達の
それぞれのイキザマが今日
ナウ
確実に
ある

Shinimonogurui _ a Poem by Yuri Kageyama

Shinimonogurui _ a Poem by Yuri Kageyama

しにものぐるいにあいし
しにものぐるいにうんで
しにものぐるいにそだてて
またしにものぐるいにあいし
しにものぐるいに死ぬ