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 First Film

I’ve written, directed and edited my first film “I Will Bleed.”
I am still learning; I am now a student at the New York Film Academy.
But it is wonderful to learn visual storytelling _ another way to express my poetry.
I’m working on my second film.

“I Will Bleed,”
a film written and directed by Yuri Kageyama

Woman: Raquel Prado
Man: Rodrigo Albuquerque

Camera by Rodrigo Albuquerque and Desiree Cantuaria

Music “I Will Bleed” based on poetry by Yuri Kageyama
Lyrics by Yuri Kageyama and Trupti Pandkar
Vocals by Trupti Pandkar
Music composed by Trupti Pandkar and Hiroshi Tokieda

Performed at the SFJAZZ CENTER in San Francisco June 2014,
by the Yuricane band
featuring Hirokazu Suyama on drums, Hiroshi Tokieda on bass, Hide Asada on guitar,
and featuring Trupti Pandkar on vocals.

September 2014.
A New York Film Academy student music movie film.

LOVING YOUNGER MEN a poem by Yuri Kageyama with drums by Hirokazu Suyama

With Drumming by HIROKAZU SUYAMA

A reading at the Japan Writers Conference in Okinawa, Japan, Nov. 2, 2013.
“Loving Younger Men” was first published in BEYOND RICE, A BROADSIDE SERIES, Mango Publications and NOLO Press, 1979.

Only the bodies of young men aroused her;
the pure innocence in their wide dark eyes,
the wild still animal strength in their muscles,
the smoothness of their skin, so shiny, stretched
out over their boy-like shoulders, flat stomachs,
abdominals rippling gently, their thick thighs
that could thrust forever into the night, their
soft moist lips, where their tonges, so delicious,
dwelt, which darted against, into her vagina,
making her moan with joy, forgetting everything,
which felt so strong against her own tongue at one
moment, yet another, seemed to melt like caramel
in the back of her throat,
their dry fingers, that touched her in the most
unexpected and expecting spots,
their penises, half-covered by their black curls,
seemed smaller, less developed, less threatening,
yet as their shoulders strangely widened
when they held her, their penises filled her,
pointed against her deepest uterine insides,
hurting her with a pleasurable pain, as though
she could sense with her hand, their movements
from outside her belly. Her father beat her as a girl.
She ran from him, crying, please don’t hit me! please
don’t hit me! No, rather she stood defiant, silent,
silent tears drunk down her chest, till he, in anger
or fear,
slapped her again and again, once so hard she was
swung across the room, once on her left ear so
that she could not hear for three weeks. She
frequented bars, searching for young men who desired
her. She sat alone drinking. She preferred
the pretty effeminate types _ perfectly featured,
a Michelangelo creation, island faces with coral eyes,
faces of unknown tribal child-princes. To escape
her family, she eloped at sixteen, with an alchoholic.
who tortured her every night, binding her with ropes,
sticking his penis into her mouth until she choked,
hitting her face into bruises, kicking her in
the stomach, aborting her child, his child.
The young boys’ heads, she would hold, after orgasm,
rocking them in her arms. She would kiss the side of their
tanned necks, breathe in the ocean scent of their hair,
lick their ear lobes and inside their ears. When they
fell asleep, sprawled like a puppy upon her sheets,
their mouths open, she would lie awake watching,
watching, watching, admiring their bodies, how so
aesthetically formed, balanced, textured. What
she enjoyed the most was their fondling her breasts,
suckling, massaging the flesh, flicking the tongue
against the nipple, biting, sucking till her nipples
were red-hot for days. She could come just by this,
without penetration.
When she is alone, she cries. In the dark, she reaches
upwards, into the air, grabbing nothing.

STORY OF MIU by Yuri Kageyama, a reading with dance and music at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York (synopsis video)

STORY OF MIU a reading in New York _ synopsis video of a 40 minuted performance piece

Written by Yuri Kageyama. Directed by Carla Blank. Dance by Yuki Kawahisa.
Read by Yuri Kageyama and Yuki Kawahisa.
Music by Pheeroan akLaff and Tecla Esposito.
At the Bowery Poetry Club in New York, N.Y. April 1, 2012.
Film by Luis Silva.
Camera by Shiho Kataoka, Rebecca MacNiece and Khach Turabian.
A Tokyo Flower Children Production
“Story of Miu” was first published in “The New and Selected Yuri: Writing From Peeling Till Now” (Ishmael Reed Publishing Co., 2011).

Mamako Yoneyama makes dishes fly for women

Long before working mothers became so accepted they’re TV-drama heroines, there was a gathering of feminists in Tokyo, where pantomimist Mamako Yoneyama performed a piece on womanhood that ended with her hurling paper plates into the air,
luminous white circles flying like spaceships, one by one, from her hand toward us, gifts of strength and hope.
They were just pieces of paper after they fell to earth.
But Yoneyama, with her voice, movement, character and presence, made them undoubtedly artistic statements.
Maybe things have changed for the younger generation.
But back then, when I was juggling job and motherhood, I was treated as an anomaly to be despised, maybe someone who was abusing her child with neglect.
Kids would come up to my son and ask with a straight face: Do you have a mother?
So unused were they to the idea that a mom could possibly be working and couldn’t be there to pick them up, volunteer with the PTA, gossip in school hallways, schmooze with teachers.
The image was unforgettable _ a woman tackling a humble stack of dishes _ transforming them with the beauty of movement, a whip of her delicate wrist, into a galaxy of light defying gravity.
After it was over, we gasped in a moment of joyous silence.
I want to read a poem and throw paper plates into the air _ line by line, in homage of Yoneyama.

Story of Miu 12

Reading at the Kuraki Noh Theater Dec. 6, 2008
with Yumi Miyagishima on violin, playing “Sleep” by Kyosuke Koizumi and Winchester Nii Tete on kpanlogo percussion.

Story of Miu 11 including links to previous entries.

I’m sitting in a stuffy waiting room, not bothering to wonder why the others _ troubled looking women of all ages and shapes _ would need to be there.
It is clear birth is not the reason we are all here, even the nurses in pale pink outfits and the feminist gynecologist with the stern voice.
I am too nervous and worried to feel shame or guilt.
I just want Miu to come out from behind the curtains where she has gone _ safe and alive and in one piece and the job done.
This is not a good feeling.
But this is all I can think.
We have all been there _ our legs open _ to remind us of what we did, not with just anyone but a man we truly loved but maybe who didn’t love us enough _ the chilly metal enters like an uncutting but unfeeling knife, merciless, guiltless, sinless until our drugged minds leave us _ start counting: one, two, three, four _ like angels who have given up.
And we feel nothing and we remember nothing.
We do not think of the baby that was, that could have been, that never was.
It is a tiny wormlike thing that must be removed like a bloody tumor because it is not a human being yet.
And I only want her to come out of there from behind the sterile curtains, safe and healthy and smiling.
I know she doesn’t want to part with this human being that never was.
She wanted it to go on and on, feeling that person inside of her.
“It’s not something to do immediately; that’s not right,” she says. She has waited a week alone. She has not told anyone.
I don’t realize this: All I am thinking about is her, not the thing that is inside of her.
But the baby who never was is that grandchild who never was, the future of the race, generations to come, who looks like your grandfather, your father, your son, the man you love, those little feet that run to you and bring snotty cheek against cheek, filled with life when you are only nearing death.
When she finally comes out of her drugged sleep, walks courageously to me in the waiting room, faking a smile, her breath smells like an old woman.


Fashion and oppression

Love for clothes, jewelery, makeup is generally relegated to the female sex in most societies.
Girls, not boys, love dolls, dress up and play house.
Men usually belittle shopping, vanity, fashion.
It is a common definition by society that such pursuits are deemed frivolous and motivated by women’s need to appeal to men.
And so having women obsess with dresses, hairdos and other self-adornment is to see women exactly where society wants to put them.
That’s why girls do cute things.
Makeup isn’t war face-paint.
A fashion plate isn’t a plate of armor.
Sex appeal isn’t territoriality.
The quest for beauty has turned into commercialized consumer marketing to push products for profit.
And the victims are women, who have been taught by their upbringing to seek the material goods that make them attractive/desirable/acceptable, the right dress, the right makeup, the right shoes.
When did the love for pretty things become so twisted?
Fashion should be a form of wearable art, fabric sculpted into a message, a way of self-expression.
Why do we need to feel that we cannot be free unless we wear no makeup and walk around in power suits and view fashion as a man would?

Letter from Miu (Story of Miu 5)

I got a letter from Miu:

Just dropping a note to tell you about my first ever outing to Shinjuku’s Sanchome district.
I was out with a couple friends for midnight mugs of beer at a tiny dingy cafe bar that spilled out into the alleys, dotted by sex-toy shops and gay bars, lonely souls occupying their time between yesterday and tomorrow _ one of those rare places in ethnocentric Tokyo where status/national origin/even sexuality go out the window.
Or so you’d like to think.
Then suddenly this Japanese guy comes up to me: “Are you with somebody?”
His next question: “Are you looking for gaijin?”
That bar, like others in that scene and Roppongi, attracts a fair share of foreigners.
I’d never forget that look in his eyes _ so afraid, so pathetic, so sad.
It was a totally depressing end to the evening.
What happened to this nation with its supposed reputation for right-wing conservative stuck up glorification of Japanese-ness!?
It’s like reliving colonialism.
You read about how Japanese women are staying single because they earn their own livelihood and don’t find the marrying lifestyle particularly attractive.
But my question is: Do they find the Japanese male attractive?
It would be a total lie to deny this phenomenon _ hordes of Japanese women who thrive on relationships with foreigners, seek them out at bars, hang from their arms, modern-day Suzy Wongs, and worship the foreigner, even unattractive ones, for their foreign-ness!
There’s a sexual crisis of some sort going on between the Japanese male and the Japanese female.
They don’t find the physical traits, mannerisms, social connotations from their own peers erotically arousing.
They find the alien intriguing.
Maybe exoticism is sexy by definition. But isn’t that just a fetish, and certainly not a way to a healthy romantic relationship?

My reply to Miu:
How can you blame the Japanese female for seeking Western-style liberalism in attitudes toward women?
And how can you blame the Japanese female for their definitions of sexual beauty and sexual relationships when they have been fed Hollywood from birth?
And how can you blame the Japanese female for seeking personal partners outside Japanese society, when so many are doing so already with their careers (practically forced to do so, given sexism at major Japanese companies)?
But I see your point.
It is unfortunate how their personal lives fit like a jigsaw puzzle into the larger oppressive landscape of race/sex/class.
When Black Power rose in the 1960s, part of that was an awakening by the people to face up to that to overcome those larger social forces in their personal lives _ by redefining beauty, sexuality, love.
But cooking for/sleeping with/kissing XXX for the Male Master simply don’t get fixed by switching His Color.
Staying within one’s Color certainly simplifies the dilemma by at least knocking off one possible horrible fetish one has to confront in a sexual relationship.
But that’s about it.
Just curious, but what happened in the end with that Japanese guy in Sanchome?
Stay well,

Continued from Story of Miu 4.

Cinderella Syndrome

Women are often afraid of their own success and want to undermine their own potential (“enryo”).
In a society that has linked success with masculinity, women subconsciously feel they may be punished for their success.
They feel success somehow makes them unlikable, less than complete, so it’s better to stay dark and hidden in the cinders.
Perhaps men will say this is self-imposed.
Perhaps today working women of color no longer feel they have to be 10 times, 100 times, better than the white male, and “go for broke” like the Japanese-American 442 of World War II, to get a chance at being seen as an equal.
I want to think my work and my example will help contribute in some way to leaving my work place, industry and even the world a better place for women of color, and to make it easier for women, especially women of color, to achieve the opportunities and success that we deserve.

Sexual harassment

Japan is the nation that produced geisha and maid cafes.
Need we stop to say the concept of sexual equality isn’t quite as widespread in Japan as it is in the U.S.?
But there’s one area women here are asserting their right to do unto men as it has been done unto them _ sexual harassment.
Men still tend to hold positions of power more than do women.
But power is relative.
A senior student in a classroom, the older person in an informal club, the office worker who just happened to be employed there first _ so rigidly strong is the idea of hiearchy in Japan it doesn’t take much to be in a position of “power” in this society so fanatically driven by shame and conformity.
As women stay single longer and enter the work force by droves, sexual harassment is rapidly growing sexually equal.
Aggravating the situation is the fact that men may be embarrassed to speak up about being victims of sexual harassment.
Or they may not be aware they are being sexually harassed (an alien idea to the macho mind).
Sexual harassment means someone uses his/her position of power to make sexual advances to another person, make sexual comments or actions to another person, or single out someone in some way because of his/her sex.
Such advances and comments may turn out to be welcome.
But it is advisable that a person in power (any power) NOT bother to try because it’s too late to find out after the fact that the advances weren’t welcome at all.
It is sexist to assume that only women can be victims of sexual harassment.
Experiences with sexual harassment tend to be very traumatic.
Victims sometimes end up leaving their jobs/school because the discomfort/fear of being in the same place with a harasser is demeaning and demoralizing.
The bad news is that the position of power the harasser holds means that he/she can punish the victim _ by demotion, ostracism, unfair grading, or more harassment.
Almost every informal Japanese company gathering is an exercise in sexual harassment.
If you think that’s an exaggeration, I challenge anyone to have sat through a go-kon or karaoke outing that did not include a single case of sexual harassment as we know it by Western standards.
Instead of speaking out against sexual harassment, Japanese women are rapidly _ and sadly _ growing thick skins about sexual harassment and opting to simply join the team.
Having endured centuries of Tale of Genji docility, Japanese women can even hope to exploit the stereotype of playing the perpetual vicim to get at least something out of a rigged game.