WHAT’S IN A NAME A Poem by Yuri Kageyama

What’s in a Name

By Yuri Kageyama

Oct. 17, 2021 at a Japan Writers Conference presentation on lyric poetry by Michael Frazier

Expanded Nov. 6, 2021.

Yuri in Japanese

Means “superior reasoning”

But all while I was growing up

I was Julie

Because no one can say Yuri

Though Julie really doesn’t sound like

Yuri Yoo-hoo You-lie   

Just a way to make sure a Kid gets it,

Who she is,

Yellow face gook smile slant eyes:

I was 6

When I was called the J-word,   

Funny how we remember

No matter how many years pass;

I was on the school bus,

The boy who yelled it out was laughing

(I came home and asked my father what it meant)

We are that missing face

That missing name, missing word, missing voice

Devoid of Definition,

That deep pathetic silence

Between meanings

Like a choked sigh drifting through history   

In that eternal American conversation

Between White

And Black

My Poem a Finalist Winner in Cultural Weekly

WHAT GREAT COMPANY.
My Poem “No Gift of the Magi” is among nine finalist winners in a Cultural Weekly poetry contest.
It’s all the more special when I love the other winning poems, too.
Our performance gets featured in _ where else? Cultural Weekly.

No Gift of the Magi
A Poem by Yuri Kageyama
With Bass by Hiroshi Tokieda
Film by Adam Lewis

A reading at the Japan Writers Conference in Okinawa, Japan, Nov. 2, 2013.

we were poor
not dirt poor but poor
me a reporter at the local rag
you a stay-at-home dad and part-time English teacher
and so when i opened that velveteen box
you handed me oh so casually on
Christmas eve
palpitating
anticipation about a
gem or jewel or sparkle
that other girls get
and saw a plain black fountain
pen
the kind no one uses anymore
mont blanc or some other brand requiring finger-smudging
ink,
i was angry
“why did you buy this and
waste money?”
and then you
suddenly
moved
and i thought you were going to hit me
and you took the pen
and broke it in half
hot with something
that was beyond
the anger i felt
sour-tasting disappointment
a feeling of not being
loved
not like that O. Henry story
where the comb unwanted, the watch band unwanted
were simple
priceless proofs of
true love
undeniable,
not that dumb purchase filled with
hate,
and you looked up
and said what I didn’t
think of and what you didn’t
want to say
at all,
“I bought you a pen
because you are
a writer
and that’s what writers use
_ a pen.”

Demon Worship _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama with guitar by Yuuichiro Ishii

DEMON WORSHIP
A poem by YURI KAGEYAMA
With YUUICHIRO ISHII on guitar
Film by Adam Lewis

A reading at the Japan Writers Conference in Okinawa, Japan, Nov. 2, 2013.

to my touch
he is surface soft textured
hardened jade within

“you have a nice one,” I say
the first night we meet

he is always awake
probably blind
in perpetual erection
thinking no thoughts
having no conscience
Monk piano move-
ments
fitting
so perfectly
my internal space of stars

violent instinctual
animal of music
quick pacedly
choking a uterus
multiple tight til
it gives up
coming
any more

his churning
jazz rolls
lips outlining shape
wetness tonguing form
fill
my mouth
with warm sweetness
that I drink in

like our love

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

LOVING YOUNGER MEN
A Poem by YURI KAGEYAMA
With Drumming by HIROKAZU SUYAMA
Film by ADAM LEWIS

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.

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.

The Yuricane _ our theme song of sorts by Yuri Kageyama: “we are one”

hirokazu photo

Hirokazu Suyama (photo by Takuma Toyonaga)

THE YURICANE
our theme song of sorts
by YURI KAGEYAMA
“we are one”

We are the Yuricane
We are the Yuricane
The hurricane of poetry
The hurricane of music
We are the Yuricane
Listen to the Yuricane

On tabla and so smooth drumming
The eye tongue ears
Touch of the storm
The Will Calhoun of Japan
Hirokazu Suyama
Listen to the Yuricane

On rock steady bass
He keeps you grounded where you’re headed
Composer arranger
The James Jamerson of Japan
Hiroshi Tokieda
Listen to the Yuricane

On virtuoso guitar
Touching your heart strings
And wearing only geta or cowboy boots
The Stevie Ray Vaughn of Japan
Yuuichiro Ishii
Listen to the Yuricane

We defy definitions
We bulldoze borders
We crash categorizations
We slam stereotypes
We believe in music
We believe in poetry

We are the Yuricane

hiroshi

Hiroshi Tokieda (photo by Takuma Toyonaga)

yuuichiro

Yuuichiro Ishii

Yuri Kageyama Reads in Okinawa Nov. 2, 2013, JAPAN WRITERS CONFERENCE, with music by Hirokazu Suyama, Hiroshi Tokieda and Yuuichiro Ishii

okinawa2
poster by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

OUR PROGRAM for our poetry reading with music, at the Japan Writers Conference SAT. Nov. 2, 2013, at Okinawa Christian University on Okinawa.
The event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
Each and everyone of you who kindly comes to check us out will get FREE COPIES of my book, “The New and Selected Yuri: Writing From Peeling Till Now” (Ishmael Reed Publishing Co.).
The smooth and funky ORIGINAL MUSIC is by drummer Hirokazu Suyama, bassist Hiroshi Tokieda and Yuuichiro Ishii on guitar.
They all are from the Berklee College of Music, my favorite place for finding brilliance these days _ as that is where my son Isaku Kageyama is also studying music.
My son’s friends are my friends and practically my sons.
I am so proud of them, their talent, their potential and their integrity.
We take you on a literary journey through America and Japan and back again, where borders and stereotypes of genres, generations, cultures and nationalities are soundly debunked.
And so please come if you happen to be in Okinawa.
We hit at 4 p.m. Saturday at Room A.