Japanese Rap for George Floyd _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

I usually don’t write poetry in Japanese, but I wrote this. And now, looking back, I realize I’ve written Japanese rap. I am going to make this part of the rap section of my song “Nothing Happens.”

Japanese Rap for George Floyd

_ A Poem by Yuri Kageyama

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

すべてが

あまりにも

すごくて

言葉がない

息ができない

息ができない

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

An Ode to the Asian Uncle Tom _ A Yuricane Poem (or does power always turn evil?) by Yuri Kageyama

NOW PUBLISHED IN THE SUMMER 2018 ISSUE OF KONCH edited and published by Ishmael Reed and Tennessee Reed.

An ode to the Asian Uncle Tom
A Yuricane poem (or does power always turn evil?)
by Yuri Kageyama

a painting collaboration by Munenori Tamagawa and Radio the Artist as Yuri Kageyama reads this poem written by Yuri Kageyama  at What The Dickens in Tokyo Feb 4, 2018.

a painting collaboration by Munenori Tamagawa and Radio the Artist as Yuri Kageyama reads this poem written by Yuri Kageyama at What The Dickens in Tokyo Feb 4, 2018.

You sit prim with your glasses
Behind that desk, title, resume
Won on the backs of
The 442 Purple Hearts
Oblivious in your banal Banana-ism
To the fact that
Yellow is your Color
The most expedient, forgotten,
Cheapest of lives
Hiroshima
My Lai
North Korea
You sip white wine at ethnic restaurants
New York, Tokyo, Dubai, Bangkok
They all look alike
Smiling in Instagram posts
You have it made
You have them duped
You have arrived
Never mind, in your deepest fearful solitary moments,
You can’t help but pick out
Just those
Who look like you:
Race suddenly a Reality;
You must put them down,
And make sure they stay down,
Remain the invisible man, the invisible woman,
Establish as Fact through rumors and appraisals
That People of Color
Can’t be objective, and, be careful,
Get easily used,
You can do the math _ as the stereotype goes _
The slots are limited,
Tokenism being a zero sum game,
Diversity cannot be the majority;
You’ve long lost your ancestral accent
You’ve adopted the air of leaders
You’ve deleted memories
Of how we were all shackled,
We picked strawberries,
We built the Transcontinental Railroad,
We survived behind barbed wires,
Instead
You go to meetings,
Rehearse video appearances,
Take vacations to the Caribbean and Bali,
Sneer at Chinese going shopping,
Plan your retirement,
Asian American
Only to whites

Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa

Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa

money for art 2



Hozumi Nakadaira (with Hybrid Soul guitarist Chris Young at a Tokyo gallery, which recently had a retrospective show) has been taking photos of jazz musicians for decades.
His photos of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and other legends are a documentation of history _ and gorgeous testaments to their art.
He was one of the few who had bothered to take their photos _ legends making history.
Only the musicians appreciated he was there, snapping away with so much creativity their moments of creativity.
That’s amazing.
What’s even more amazing, Nakadaira has never made any money off his photos.
Making giant prints for exhibits is very expensive.
He can’t sell them because they don’t fit in any homes.
He sells smaller prints at a fraction of their cost at a several hundred dollars a piece, or replica post cards at cheaper prices even I can afford.
They don’t make up for what he has had to spend on travel to take photos at concerts and clubs around the world.
Nakadaira complains people don’t understand photography is art.
They ask to borrow his negatives _ for free _ as though the fruit of hours of effort and talent and work of love is an accidental commodity at a push of a button that can be borrowed and returned.
Nakadaira runs a cafe called “Dug” in Tokyo, where he used to have concerts by musicians you wouldn’t expect to hear up so close.
But he had to stop the performances. His neighbors didn’t like “the noise.”
He still doesn’t expect to make money from his photos _ those photos he takes carefully on old-fashioned film, those photos that have become album covers of famous artists, some taken right at Dug, transformed in his photo to a dramatic backdrop that claims its rightful place in the history of art, no longer a tiny, dark basement cafe.
There is no money. But he won’t stop.

My son’s grandfathers

My son is lucky and should be proud in having in his grandfathers from both his maternal and paternal sides men who refused to fight on the wrong side of the war.
His Japanese grandfather made a point of majoring in aeronautics at Nagoya University because that was the only way he could avoid the draft.
He had studied English and loved baseball. He knew war with the U.S. was pointless and disastrous.
He married a woman who worked at a hospital that her parents ran, watching victims of air raids bleed to death in the hallways before they could get treatment.
When the emperor made his announcement of defeat over the radio, people crumbled on the ground and wept.
But my parents were just relieved.
When American soldiers stopped by the hospital, everyone was too afraid to go talk to them, and so my mother went and all they wanted were directions.
Everyone else carried around little pills they were going to swallow to choose suicide over rape and death at the hands of the Americans.
My son’s Japanese American grandfather was in the 442 and fought in Europe in World War II.
He has a Purple Heart and many other medals for his bravery on the missions, including helping the liberation of Dachau.
It was a huge embarrassment for the US that while Japanese Americans were risking their lives in a war to end concentration camps in Germany, they were putting Japanese Americans, many of them families of the soldiers, in Internment camps in the American desert that were far less lethal but no less discriminatory or wrong.
My husband’s father had to leave his wife in Minidoka Camp.
There has been no evidence of Japanese Americans having posed a security threat or engaged in any espionage or other crimes.
In 1988, President Reagan issued an apology from the American government, and every Japanese American who had been interned received a redress check.
The 442 is still the most highly decorated military unit in American history.