My AP Story March 3, 2022 on the verdict for Greg Kelly, cleared on all counts except for charges in one of the eight contested years. He gets to go home because his sentence was suspended. The defense is appealing, asserting complete innocence.
A collaboration by Sandile Ngidi and Yuri KageyamaJune 2022 ~ (ongoing)
Sandile(June 12, 2022)
It is windy, rough, chimneys banging in the winds,
begging for mercy, pebbles.
Still meditating, but prayers return as cloudbursts. Blood.
Sky dances, but no raindrops on the lips.
Bedrocks rehearsing illness songs.
Orphans on dry geomorphology.
Yuri(June 19, 2022)
The blue-green planet is but a sneeze
Lost in two billion light years of solitude,
That speck of snot, or dot, of human life
In an eternal line of ancestral tradition:
Like Shuntaro Tanikawa and Mansai Nomura,
On this Juneteenth, we remember
Hope, courage, that patient wait.
Sandile(July 2, 2022)
On the first day of the month, the sun went home in splendid form.
A good ruse for me to sleep, and wake up in top form.
A world of theatrical summons suddenly made sensuous.
I am walking into the village where one season,
the magic of laughter died.
My dogs running.
Yuri(July 12, 2022)
The Music falls silent.
Piping, pellets, powder,
Wrapped in tape,
Two smoking blasts
from a homemade gun,
Sinking and numb
We face each other and a new world
Sandile (July 8, 2022)
hope pulses with astonishing freshness.
embracing every tiny patch
food in green pastures
songs making me feel whole
while mourning a dear brother
his leaf refusing to wither …
Yuri(July 14, 2022)
… you are home:
The rice smells sweet,
Take your shoes off and let
The tatami cool your tired toes;
Take a deep breath;
Let it seep within _
That feeling that you count
When what’s going on around us
Is just the opposite.
Sandile (Aug. 18, 2022)
A man from boyhood rises on a point of order.
Tells a tiktok traffic DJ, his potatoes are wrapped in blood.
Pleads for wifey to go gentle into his black potato sack.
To keep it cool, moist.
This tiny poem is no portrait of a man as a naked cook.
It is his pain.
Sandile(Aug. 24, 2022)
In the punishing winds,
chimneys sing in the bloody winds.
Why can’t you see?
Sit down. Grow wings.
Simply sing along.
Grow dreadlocks. Brush your dog.
Chill out with bafo.
And Hugh. Cool laughers.
Yuri (Aug. 26, 2022)
it’s a blessed day
when you wake up and write
or rather a poem wakes up
and gets you
to write a poem;
it just comes but it
has to be
a blessed day;
never forget when it happens last,
or those long silent days
when you just suffered.
(The poetic trans-planetary collaboration between Sandile Ngidi in South Africa and Yuri Kageyama in Japan has evolved over time. Their previous works are: #peacepoetry (March ~ May 2022), and the work that started it all in 2021: “Magic 50 of COVID-19 Poems.” The tradeoff of lines in a literary hand-holding defied geographic borders, in a shared vision, week by week, or almost week by week, through the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the comings and going of daily life. “This poetic dance is our call and response. A tango of sorts,” Ngidi says. Without having ever met once in real life, the poets know simple but totally perfect mutual understanding. Thank God for Poetry.)
A great “memory shot” by Kii Sato of where I did a video interview for The AP on the Olympic opening ceremony. It was just across the street but because of blocked off traffic I had to make a giant detour and was drenched in sweat when I finally got there. But Yes, I did the interview!
My AP Story July 2, 2021 on the Americans accused in the escape of Carlos Ghosn. Michael Taylor, choking over tears, told the court: “I stand here today a man whose life has been destroyed because of this.”
Magic 50 of COVID-19 Poems by Sandile Ngidi and Yuri Kageyama(From Aug. 31, 2020 ~April 5, 2021. All rights reserved by the artists.)
us to these basal stems.
petals fresh & resilient.
breathes songs of roots strong.
a healthy leaf mass, fruits defying leaf scorch defining these heavy seasons.
words dancing in the winds.
flutter by the slowly swelling river.
of their wings play in the light.
songs of currents deep.
Grass bend soft with the seasons, shining dew recalling these tears of birth.
words dancing in the winds.
Far in the
somewhere of dazzling seas,
stops the seasons of fruitful friendships.
field to field feeding the imagination,
spring of delights, radished words.
gesturing towards well-shaped flower leaves, moistured mosaics of words.
words dancing in the winds,
sparrows warble, not in fun but fear,
like debris, dirt, weeds and words,
and deserts, swamps and streams,
The now of
Dreams connect the All of history, the eternity of Forgotten nightmares.
the rooster is red,
edge sinking Black lives.
The wind is
Eldorado Park, slain Nathaniel Julies is rising.
gardens strut their stuff,
skyline in full sun,
eversick landscape. Life.
whispers in tanka and haiku,
oceans, red, blue, yellow and black,
pain, repeating of life,
Hakamada just smiles and believes
is no flower.
beast-like on a darkened Mozambique road –
God of Black
women now rise,
She is duped
and gets easily used;
defiant and easily explodes;
She is vain,
obsessed with appearance;
herself go, looks fat and shabby;
She is too
quiet and can’t speak up;
psychotic and can’t shut up;
She is all these things, all at once,
Would you dance naked on your veranda
seeing madigras brass band
mad boots on grass,
killing your soul’s shongololo?
Beyond the gleam of your silverware, the sun still shines.
Shun the sun if drunk in the polemic of your vomit.
The palm tree is tall still,
translucent like briny waves
pagoda zooming to a giant moon
never come back
To an earth
that’s unjust, unequal, unfree;
never look back
At those who
have sought to capture her
We hello each other,
a morning ritual.
He walks into the dew,
whistling with the ancestors.
Mapholoba, a shepherd breathing poverty.
This dark mist, common as whites walking their dogs.
Seeing them pee with glee.
His dogged legs a plea.
Four an unlucky number,
sounding the same
as the word for “death,”
the 442 has two fours
and a two,
any even number unlucky,
inevitable separation coming,
and Go For Broke they did,
from desert Camps,
to win what they never had,
the right to be American,
not an enemy.
Casting a warm eye on this land
my line to kiss her forehead
give her gladness sandwiches
water my mother’s spinach
add black pepper to the seasons
good taste into the bowl
a poetry pot firing the broil
the slow dawn of a brighter day.
Taking a lazy walk next to this river
the gulls kiss the tips of the water
children laugh in floppy hats
I remember my father’s beatings
my mother’s Edamame
cooked in Salt, served with cold beer
a poetry pot firing the broil
the slow dawn of a brighter day.
Stratus clouds in the skies
Wishing blue skies smiled
Chuckled like Louis Armstrong
The air was friendly
Unbanning lazy solitude strolls
Poets oets perching in trees
Chickening every silly sunset
Dazzled by darkness
Her seductive light.
Dot the aging
skies of night
each window tells
face of every city,
smoothed only by time
His seductive weeps
Await that trickle of dawn
after a long trip is a place
where one returns
changes into fresh clothes
puts the heavy load down
drinks cold water
eats porridge and amasi
while the dog licks wounds back to health
where suicidal fantasies die
hopelessly lacking any poetic imagination.
exhaustion breathe through
the night, screams
of wind choked silent,
on rain-filled waters,
river, sea to sea, blood to blood,
is it dawn somewhere
do the birds
care enough to remember
the messages from that somewhere else?
He says hi
inkabi back from jail
straw grass world
can’t be licked for first milk.
He’s a local
no hate blues.
Do I offer my hand
to the killer-ox
Body seducing sleep
Swinging on her axis
Tell the night be tight.
Behind the sun sleep is light.
In dreams lovers kiss the ground in flight
Saliva no dread on Covid lane.
Children dance the morning dew into song.
That needed daily
fix of kimchee,
Rattles shoji screens,
Like gently shaking
Even in dementia
A ring that
Rainbow and diamond,
Promising a love
Like the immeasurable,
Of Truth and
In a deadly pandemic
greed so pathetic
muzzled jingle bells
Wakashio in Mauritius
kills marine life
even after Fukushima
drills invade the Okavango
Death nudges closer
The pandemic world we share,
Skin cracked of disinfectant,
Sweat dripping on masks,
Prayer and hope,
Winston Monwabisi “Mankunku” Ngozi
Pain pierces the heart like an assassin’s knife.
See the restless sea.
Shingled memories, the coffee blues.
Rumours of Christmas in the warming moist air.
Humming with the moon, its tears.
Pleading for the lost lotus flower seeds.
one pandemic year
into the next,
those who hate
blinded to truth and fact
but we recognize
more than ever
what is important,
America, poop fools climb walls in tantrums.
Haters copiously eat garlic.
Whiteness is no guesswork.
Hard stools on TV.
For COVID-19 deaths to be sweet & swift.
In my hood, the owl headlines death.
A cry for a strong midrip.
The stubborn heaviness in our shoulders.
The bloodshot eyes, now we know,
our lives are being irrevocably torn apart.
Those who are ill, dying and dead, are familiar names.
Death is no longer a metaphor.
The nightmare. The nightmare.
Since we are already here.
Poetry of faith at the full.
Kindly keep these sandwiches, too.
To be shared at the golden hour
That poets dream of,
Even as it madly thunders.
Our poem will end
When we overcome;
We will celebrate
As we always do
Laugh, belittle, ridicule,
Call me naive
Whatever is up
To silence stereotype enslave.
The dread of your dying wick.
A single lung blighting all joy.
Memories of your dead mother.
Your pus-filled body.
A cry for green stones of home. Hot springs.
Jail is sad.
Prisoners die at this cursed hour.
Now on my kneeling mat, milling the moon.
At the local dumpsite, I flinch
improvise a mind-soul spin.
Kids playing atop the site,
happy-hip outdoor crib with a view.
Good times rolling like Kamala Harris,
dogs fighting over smelly nappies.
Kids running away, stained condoms
They are doing it.
it used to be simple
getting on a plane
breathing without a mask
touching a doorknob
and not being afraid
it used to be simple
laughing on an elevator
just going out
Mqombothi plastic cups.
Lives dangling on the lion’s jaws.
Ease the storm beloved ancestors.
We miss the magic of hugging the clay pot.
The odd belch.
The tickling cold stir on lips.
The Khongisa spirit.
Songs against thunder and disease.
(Section 35 was written by Sandile Ngidi on the day of the death of legendary South African vocalist, and his friend, Sibongile Khumalo, evoking the spirit of one her great songs, a prayer to the gods of Africa. Let us mourn in prayer this collective loss as we face a world torn by the pandemic.)
Shivers of monster icebergs
Fevers of raging forest fires
Fuzzy spikes running amok
Vessels organs flesh and muscle
Dropping phlegm immunity bombs
More virus more virus more virus
Tentacles piercing nails red-blue
Hoping to wipe out Humanity
Weighing who gets to live
Which rich nations get vaccines first
The vaccine arrives in the rain,
I wave on TV,
frown lines of relief.
Puppy-happy, playing fetch
The bride is here, for
Waves crash onto shore,
a swash of stars
arresting the frozen hours.
Maize seedlings ready, hands to earth.
Yurikamome float like lotus
Heaven on earth
This river of fruit and birth,
A moment in this pandemic Hell
That enslaves, rapes, steals,
Infections of greed and envy
Humming leaves giving rhythm to the reticent day.
Mapholoba off to his cattle post.
Our morning ritual in flight.
Salutes to sunrise.
Laughter shared like bread.
A mbhubhudlo bond.
The heaven of village handshakes.
Hot pink buds are shaking dew,
Airplanes roar over clouds of spring
And the weeping of sirens,
Piercing the city smog;
We wonder if it’s COVID-19
Or some other emergency;
We pray for anshin anzen,
Safe and secure,
As elusive as those broken promises.
Sibiya’s laughs are boiled maize kernels we throw in the air,
Right into our mouths.
Sweet rain drops.
In the wasp-killing sun, we breathe dreams into the soil,
Muting the weeping sirens.
The soil’s ulnar verse spreads and breaks like seawaves.
We are silk songs.
We wake up today to the Earth shuddering,
Rumbling in fear of human evil,
Magnitude 7.3 almost midnight.
We wake up today to water levels sinking
In reactors that sank 10 years ago
Meltdowns in Fukushima,
Half-cracked containers spewing,
No one gets close without dying;
Remembering human greed,
Evacuating in fear of radioactive imperfection.
You ntanga yethu, David Sibisi.
Walking talking with stoic grace.
Smile bristles giving the day her delayed radiance.
Some milk cows perished in the recent hellish rains.
But you braving the forest,
giving the village her health.
It’s a year since that freezing wind struck,
left its bloodied knife on the floor.
The winding path of pain, indefinite tracks on a hill.
The dead can’t smell the flowers, and play with their dogs anymore.
Yet memory drapes each day with protean seeds.
Smell the soy sauce cooking
See the squints stab desert skies
Hear the heartbeat taiko vibration
Feel the texture of kimono silk
Taste the ocean sashimi brine
So Simple: Has it been a year?
We are alive we mourn filled with love
Can you remember how that love made you afraid?
where brutal spiderworlds
In the name of tradition,
the kikuyu loses her green heart.
Tribesmen betray justice.
Blowing their noses at a woman,
as she cries for justice.
When her speech is chilli hot,
her eyes a stubborn flame.
Vagina warm and snug,
Dark and tight Slant Eyes,
Shot at a Massage Spa;
Skin as smooth as China Silk,
Straight Black Hair a Tightrope,
Shot at a Massage Spa;
Serve your addiction
But Not racially motivated,
Shot at a Massage Spa;
He just had a bad day,
The women are dead.
Sunny days are darkening at load-shedding speed.
Seasons of foul stench.
Skunks squealing with careless glee.
Children too happy to play outside.
Far from the smell of the political millipede.
To wink at the transient sunrise.
Holding on to its warm scarlet scarf.
Oblivious to the pandemic,
Sakura buds fatten,
Burst in benevolent explosions,
Millions of screams
Crying out to Stop Hate,
Pink pompoms spilling Pink Periods
On a timeless Manuscript
Of pavement and dirt.
Bright skies and the sea full of grace, heroic balsamic kisses.
The world suddenly looks like a splendid and hopeful place when sakura starts to bloom, right about this time in Tokyo. It happens without fail every year. But it’s so dazzling it feels unexpected. This morning, an old man was gazing up at a tree, probably the first cherry blossom tree he saw on his walk. His eyes, behind the glasses, I knew had seen so much, and was seeing all of that, again, in the flowers.
3.11 ON OUR MINDS I’m going to share, if I may, some of my stories I did for The Associated Press, covering the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear disasters that slammed Japan in 2011, and my followup stories over subsequent years. I am grateful to all the sources who spoke with AP, to The AP for this experience that has shaped me, and to journalism. Here goes:
My AP Story May 23, 2013 on this: “Keeping the meltdown-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in northeastern Japan in stable condition requires a cast of thousands. Increasingly the plant’s operator is struggling to find enough workers, a trend that many expect to worsen and hamper progress in the decades-long effort to safely decommission it.”
My AP Story March 10, 2010 on soy sauce’s miracle “comeback.” “RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan (AP) _ When the tsunami warning sounded, workers at the two-centuries-old soy sauce maker in northeastern Japan ran up a nearby hill to a shrine for safety, and watched in disbelief as towering waters swallowed their factory.”
I do stories and sometimes photos and video for The Associated Press, the world’s biggest and most trusted news organization. The link to all my stories in 2019 and 2018, and I’m starting anew here with all my AP Stories in 2020, the Year of the Mouse:
My AP Story July 3, 2020 on Japan formally filing the extradition request with the U.S. on two Americans arrested in Massachusetts and accused in his escape.
My AP Story June 11, 2020 as the saga of Carlos Ghosn returns as Japan seeks the extradition of two Americans, recently arrested in the U.S., and wanted in Japan on suspicion of having helped a criminal escape, meaning that extraordinary flight of Ghosn to Lebanon hiding in a box.
My AP Story June 12, 2020
on the high court upholding a lower court conviction on data
manipulation for Mark Karpeles, who headed a Tokyo bitcoin exchange that
My AP Story May 28, 2020 on how Nissan is closing auto plants, in Spain and in Indonesia, as it sinks into losses for the first time in 11 years.