The River _ a poem in the spirit of Hart Crane _ by Yuri Kageyama

The River with effects by Christopher Robert

The River with effects by Christopher Nolan

THE RIVER
_ a poem in the spirit of Hart Crane _ by Yuri Kageyama

The River

Katsushika Hokusai’s hawks
Still eye this Sumida River
Crying their fue whistles
Echoing music on scuttling boats,
Carrying workers, travelers, modern-day geisha _
Some rickety, faded lanterns dangling,
Other ships are futuristic tubes of glass;
The torrents are dark with the wind,
Torn dreams of star-crossed lovers
Jumping tied by cloth as one
From the Kachidoki Bridge
No longer a draw-bridge, separating at the center,
The winding waves glisten in tips of white
Like the wings of seagulls that flutter
Only during the fall and winter seasons,

The River

In the rain, darting sideways sumi strokes,
Tiny people scamper across the landscape
The O-Edo “salarymen” and the “office lady” O-Ls
Faceless, hustling proletarian lives
Clasping sheer convenience-store umbrellas
Not the woven straw hats of the past
Tokyo Tower to the left
Sky Tree to the right
Stirring distant eternal visions,
Swimming in the Seine,
Sumida’s Sister River,
And Van Gogh’s deranged mind,
Sashaying to the ocean and the connecting skies,
Where the sun sets again,
Bleeding purple among wispy twisted clouds;
And the River churns,
Remembering glory,
Knowing sin
Through an anonymous city of lights

The River

(II)
The BIRDS

Kabuki’s answer to the Pelican
The Flamingo, the Albatross,
The Heron swoops through the sky
Perches so perfectly on a pine _
Princess in mirrored waters;

The humble fish-gulping Cormorant
Dives in muddy waters,
Spreads battered wings to dry,
In flight, freed from slavery _
Transforms, a gliding Black Swan;

The Sparrow plays, chirping staccatos,
Small furs of speckled brownness,
They play, always searching
Like a lost forlorn child _
Unchanged from Issa’s poems.

(III)
SIGNS OF LIFE _ A Poem and Not a List

lantern

Azure-winged Magpie
Bobbling Lanterns
Giggling Motorboats
Baby Crabs, some are still
Worms on the pavement, mostly still
Fish are jumping, really
But Seagulls mew like Cats
And Monkeys slide on Dagwood Trees;
Smell of Tsukudani, dead Rodents,
Where Basho began his Journeys _
If We can feel the Words,
A List turns
Into A Poem:
Zinnia Elegans Profusion
Zinging Cicada
Couples in Yukata
Cotton Clouds
After the Storm

boat

(IV)
HANABI (fireworks)

Fireworks at Ryogoku by Utagawa Hiroshige

Fireworks at Ryogoku by Utagawa Hiroshige

Hiroshige had the idea
Roses, wine glasses, mandalas
Exploding big in the hot dark
Psychedelic flowers blooming
Over milling crowds of evil
Drunken laughter
Exclamations
Aspirations of Smallness:
I whisper to my blind friend:
“It’s lovely like truth,
Like forever.”
Fragile glows bleed with neon
Hanging low only for a moment
Hiroshige had the idea

Sumida River fireworks

Sumida River fireworks

(V)
POETIC MOMENTS

Let me create them
Poetic moments
A Ditch is a River
Poetic moments
The River is Vision
Poetic moments
Lost forever found
Poetic moments
Everywhere
Poetic moments
Nowhere
Poetic moments
Let me create them
Poetic moments
May I stay pure
So I don’t miss them.

SUMIDAGAWA

riveragain2

隅田川
どぶかかわかは
浮世ビジョン

Sumida River
Whether a ditch or river
Ukiyo Vision

FAREWELL TO TSUKIJI

The River

their fangs shimmer
in the darkest of nights
in multitudes
like starving soldiers
they make their run
across downtown
fur upon fur
covering the cement,
nails scratching,
blocking the office lights,
monstrous mice mewing,
looking for the fish
that is suddenly gone,
as they once looked for
the Pied Piper of Hamlin,
the rats of Tsukiji
are moving,
not to Toyosu, where
the ground is poison
but into rich people’s homes
to eat their steaks, greed and children;
the rats blink
with tiny golden
unfeeling eyes,
diamonds of stench,
in time
with the stars
above

tsukiji night

THE RETURN OF THE YURIKAMOME

yurikamome

yurikamome

I waited all summer
For your return
Flutters of petal
Above the water
Buddha’s wafting lily pads
Your squawks swim the salty breeze
Circling, swooping, dancing,
They say birds vanish before an earthquake,
A hurricane, an apocalypse;
It matters not you don’t remember me
Your playful swoops
Silence screams of hate
Your presence is comfort
In this Atomic Age
You are back:
“I will not cry
Except in love” _
I wrote those lines
When I was very young,
And they are still true
As I die,
You are back

yurikamome

asagao

the river oct 2018

the river with boats

I WILL BLEED a song about love that defies all _ a finalist in a UK songwriting contest

I co-wrote the poem/lyrics with Trupti for “I WILL BLEED,” a song about star-crossed lovers inspired by Chikamatsu‘s double-suicides written for Bunraku puppet theater, about how love, no matter how simple, mundane and pathetic, endures, even in death.
The melody was composed by Trupti and Hiroshi Tokieda, who also plays bass in this fine rendition at his father’s Tokyo recording studio (SoundCloud below).
The musical composition by the couple songwriting team was selected a finalist winner in the U.K. Songwriting Contest in December 2015.
I am blessed to be collaborating with and just to know these two young brilliant musicians. I have seen them get married, despite being of different nationalities and backgrounds, tied together so absolutely through their love for music, and their love for each other.
They met at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where my son Isaku Kageyama graduated recently, and performed together in different musical groups, with both Trupti and Hiroshi.
They are our future, and the future of the best in music.
The best in us. All of us.
What I want to say in this song is that I still believe in love.
I wrote the poem and worked on the song with Trupti, knowing all the while that Trupti would sing it, and that Hiroshi and Trupti would compose the music together.
The song debuted at my poetry reading and tribute to my poet mentor Ishmael Reed at SFJAZZ CENTER in June 2014 (YouTube clip below).
They are the idea for this song.
They are this song.
I created this song for them.

I WILL BLEED
V1
I won’t cry (a)
Coz it’s in love that I bleed (b)
A bridge of ribbon that carries me (b)
Across waves of war no one can see (b)
V2
I won’t run (a)
My blood will rush strong and drain (b)
All my pride, prejudice and pain (b)
Only our love will still remain (b)
C
I will bleed (a)
But I won’t flee,
Hell is what I desire (b)
I will bleed
But I won’t hide
Hell is what I desire
Such heavenly fire
V3
I won’t sleep (a)
Until this ocean turns to wine (b)
On a night when our stars align (b)
Lying cheek to cheek no longer confined (x)
V4
We will live (a)
You the east and me the sun (b)
Not afraid of different tongues (b)
Our blood joined will make us one (x)

I Will Bleed _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

I Will Bleed _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

I will bleed
A red silk cord that ties us
A bridge over star-crossed oceans,
Families that feud in hate and war
I will bleed

I will bleed
Till I am all but empty
Drained of prejudice, pride and pain
All except for my love for you,
I will bleed

I will bleed
Let’s flee together into the dark
Binding our bodies tight with rope
So we stay together, even in hell
I will bleed

I will bleed
Thrust your knife through my organs
Then I watch you slice your neck
My blood is now your blood
I will bleed

I will bleed
The divide gone in one mindless flow
Race, culture, gender all blend in blood
Pulsating through our universe
I will bleed