What it means to be a woman of color _ A poem by Yuri Kageyama

photo by Naokazu Oinuma

What it means to be a woman of color _ A poem by Yuri Kageyama

It’s the John Coltrane quartet all in one

Spiritual like Jimmy Garrison’s bass

McCoy Tyner’s resonant chords

The smarts of Elvin, the Love Supreme of the saxophone:

We can be all things, and more, just to get a chance to show we can play


It’s the courage of the 442 all in one  

That integrity to raise one’s hand to serve

Even out of an arid desert “internment” camp,

Defying death, our Purple Hearts, wounds of body and soul:   

We work a hundred, thousand times harder to prove we are American


It’s Martin Luther King’s dream all in one

We may fall to an assassin’s hatred

Our honor smeared by fake allegations

But we still stand, for freedom, and forgive every one:

We still have that, in us, despite what you have done to us.  

I AM THE VIRUS _ a poem in homage of Ishmael Reed By Yuri Kageyama

artwork by Munenori Tamagawa

I AM THE VIRUS _ a poem in homage of Ishmael Reed

By Yuri Kageyama

(Written SUN March 22, 2020 as the world fights the pandemic over the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and I continue to be aghast at the utter lack of integrity among the supposedly best of us, the ignorance, selfishness, ugliness. )

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

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
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

Hatsu Kooh – First Poem for 2015 by Yuri Kageyama

Hatsu Kooh _ First Poem for The New Year
by Yuri Kageyama

In Itself.
What It Is.
Not NOT Not What It Is Not.

I am a Journalist 3

Having integrity means that the reporter must watch his/her actions as an individual and not stray from the Path.
Ever since I was a child, I liked to write and read. The characters and stories in the books I read were more real than the real life around me.
I could have possibly chosen another career _ as long as writing was involved _ but what appealed the most about being a reporter was the honesty/integrity/selflessness of the job.
I’ve always wanted to live life/make a living with the assurance I was doing the Right Thing.
In that sense, journalism provides a logical solution.

I am a Journalist 2

The integrity of the reporter has always been important.
But as our industry enters financial difficulties, the raison d’etre of journalism is inevitably going to be questioned.
We have to answer the question: Why do we need news stories?
What does news offer that’s not in video games, social networking, movie downloads, blogs?
Reporting has to be about a lot of things _ delivering information accurately and quickly, making complex faraway stories easy to understand, engaging readers in an entertaining meaningful way, etc.
But the bottom line is: Reporters serve the public good by getting the truth out.
That’s why reporters must have integrity.
We can’t hope to have any credibility if we are not good people with principles in our everyday lives.
This is where being a Poet/Journalist sees no conflict.
Poets speak the Truth. Poets pursue Goodness. Art is Life.

Auto workers in the U.S./Germany/Japan

In some ways, a farmer has more in common with farmers in other nations than with people of other occupations in the same country.
That can be said of other professions _ boxers, chief executives, carpenters, reporters.
That’s because what we do to earn a living is such an all encompassing and fundamental part of our being that what is required to perform that job right comes to define how we think and act, and what we ARE.
Recently my colleagues and I did a project together to look at auto workers in the U.S., Germany and Japan, to see what they had in common, as well as what separated them.
The package together told a story that was more than each story on its own:

The U.S. story
The story from Germany
The story from Japan

I remember talking to farmers in Michigan and farmers in Japan and realizing how much farmers have in common, although they don’t speak the same language and they live so far away from each other.
I also remember the point in I believe a book by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.: We are what we do every day (The way he put it was that we become what we pretend to be and so we must be careful.)
People can justify all they want in their minds to appease their guilt about what they do.
But sometimes matter overtakes mind.
Every little decision/act/word counts.