HAIKU SERIES by YURI KAGEYAMA

Photo by Hirokazu Suyama, drummer.

Photo by Hirokazu Suyama, drummer.

HAIKU SERIES
by Yuri Kageyama

Waaaaaah! So much like Wow!
A Child. Fluttering Sakura.
Language. A Moment.

わあああ!でも ワウ!でも
ちるさくらみる子
言葉は無

~~~~

a blue plastic bag
so hard so still no more
Tokyo train tracks

青いシート
もうかたくなり
東京の駅

~~~

in my deathly dreams
your sweet breath, fat knees, wet hands
a child forever

甘い息
死んで夢見る
赤ちゃんの手

~~~~

timeless tweet timeline
scroll blindly touch-panel light
mumbles of loneliness

タイムレス 
孤独のつぶやき
みずスクロール

~~~~

stained glass
nudging colors into light
my wife’s fingers

ステンドグラス
ひかりを染める
妻のゆび

~~~~

dead grandchild
a blurring thought lost in wrinkles
skin lotion’s smell

なき孫が
小皺に霞む
化粧水

~~~~

at Hamanako
forgetting burying
beatings by my father

浜名湖に
沈め忘れる
父の虐待

~~~~

Red over green
You got that right, Matisse
Then Today Forever.

グリーンよりあか
そのときもいまも
せいかい

~~~~

spring morning
pink explodes
chiffon whirls

春の朝
ピンクが爆
発シフォン舞う

My latest is in KONCH magazine, an Ishmael Reed and Tennessee Reed publication

My prose poem “Dec. 12, 2012, The Very Special Day _ a Prose Poem” gets published in the October issue of KONCH magazine, an Ishmael Reed and Tennessee Reed publication. It is a story about the discrimination in Japan against Japanese Americans. It is also a story of survival. It is a story about defying discrimination. And I am in great company in this publication with the likes of Alejandro Murguia and Ishmael Hope.

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.

a message to children

a message to children
by YURI KAGEYAMA

Children, it is a myth that loving someone is this fairy tale.
It’s just pain that defies logic.
If we chose a person to love by logic or by weighing advantages, that won’t be love.
But whatever that essence in our soul that makes us love _ despite how foolish and painful and useless it is _ is what drives music, poetry, life, art, meaning.
It’s like this: No matter what your child is who is born to you, no matter how sick or disabled, male or female or in-between, no matter, it doesn’t matter, you as a mother would instantly love that child.
So if one loves another adult as partner, friend, collaborator, roommate, lover, it is, in principle, no different.
If you were giving to get something out of it, that wouldn’t be love, just a contract.
That’s why love is not even really needed for survival, which is about other things.
Love is so filled with suffering, so unrewarding and draining in its own right, it is utter madness.
So, children, go out and love this world.

ode to the stroller _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

ode to the stroller
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

we zip weightless like silent angels
up and down San Francisco hills
running on the mother of all energy
greener than solar
rolling rolling rolling
with laughter
cream acid rock ‘n’ rolling
lightning dazzling wheels
gara-gara-gara-gara
teethers jangling dangling dancing
going mad on strangle-free rubbery ribbons
up and down the Avenues
J-town, Clement Street
Golden Gate Park
Museum of Modern Art
we are singing:
“Ouma no oyako wa nakayoshi koyoshi
itsudemo issho ni pokkuri pokkuri aruku”

perfume wind in our hair
springing over potholes
not even stopping just for breast feeds
connected as one through this magical machine
me pushing
you riding
the Lamborghini of strollers
the Gundam of strollers
the little train that could of strollers
up up up into the joyous clouds
zooming wheeeeee
down slurping slopes
around swervacious curves
we are one
yes, we are one
tied in the past with our
umbilical cord
and
even in death
in our dreams

TURNING JAPANESE poetry and reading by Yuri Kageyama

TURNING JAPANESE a poem by Yuri Kageyama
Film and Photos by Ian Thomas Ash
Reading by Yuri Kageyama
Wincester Nii Tete on percussion and Hiromichi Ugaya on bass at The Pink Cow in Tokyo for a “Looking At Fukushima” event May 7, 2013.

TURNING JAPANESE

a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Turning Japanese is not masturbation
Could even be for sale
So be proud

Take architecture:
We take space that’s smaller than a toilet
Create a garden to express the Universe
Todaiji Temple grandeur hierachy
It doesn’t even use any nails

Turning Japanese is not masturbation
Could even be for sale
So be proud

Take ikebana:
Flowers and herbs and blades of grass
Sculpture ecology Basho-esque balance
Homage to God’s perfection of design
It doesn’t even last a week

Turning Japanese is not masturbation
Could even be fore sale
So be proud

Take law and order:
Our trains are clean, run always on time
Apology on the PA if they’re two minutes late
The homeless politely take off their shoes
To get in their cardboard homes

Turning Japanese is not masturbation
Could even be for sale
So be proud

Take politics:
They tell us we have a democracy
Imported direct from the US of A
A new prime minister every year or so
What’s his name _ Koizumi, Abe, Fukuda, Aso, Hatoyama, Kan, Noda _ Abe again?
Please remember!

Turning Japanese is not masturbation
Could even be for sale
So be proud

Take women:
Excuse me, I mean, Take girls:
Uniform miniskirts, eyelash extensions
Never have jobs or grow older than 13
But grow Barbie’s breasts

Turning Japanese is not masturbation
Could even be for sale
So be proud

Technology:
Robots, Pokemon, gadgets galore
Attention to detail, precision with vengeance
We get everything right _ unless something goes wrong
Like a nuclear meltdown

Turning Japanese is not masturbation
Could even be for sale
So be proud

Celebration
Revolution
Masturbation
Nuclear nation
Hydrogen explosion
Can I have your attention
Masturbation
Radiation
Nuclear nation …..

Dec. 12, 2012, The Very Special Day _ a Prose Poem by Yuri Kageyama

Dec. 12, 2012, The Very Special Day
_ a Prose Poem by Yuri Kageyama published in the October 2013 issue of KONCH magazine, edited by Ishmael and Tennessee Reed.

My birthday this year is so very special because Dec. 12, 2012 is that one day that goes 12-12-12, and that can happen only once and there is no 13-13-13.
I am going to be six years old on this so very special day.
And so everyone knows this is so very special, especially Mama who keeps saying it will be so very special.
I started having birthdays when I started going to ABC Pre-School. I guess I had them before, but I was so little like a baby so I don’t remember those birthdays.
My friends from ABC Pre-School came over for my birthday and we had a Pinata. That’s a little blue and pink horse, but it’s made of paper and so we take plastic baseball bats and we keep hitting it and hitting it and hitting it, and it’s got lots and lots of candy inside it.
Then Mama did a special quiz with questions like: What’s yellow, cuddled together and good?
And my friends said things like Sponge Bob, but I knew the right answer was French Fries because Mama and I go to the acquarium when it’s free to get inside, and that’s what we get each time _ French Fries.
It was funny because every question like that, I knew all the answers right away.
Then we had cake and ice cream.
I got presents. I got a car and a spaceship and a book and coloring pens and so many things.
One of my friends wanted to take the spaceship home, just to borrow for a while, and I said OK, but his Mama said No, that’s for your friend who doesn’t have that many toys and you have so many toys at home.
What a very special day.
Then last year, that’s when we moved to Japan, and the birthday was still so very special, Mama said, and we invited friends at Blue Bird Kindergarten, but everyone was too busy on Dec. 12, 2011, and only two little boys came.
But it was still so very special.
I don’t know why Mama was acting so angry about everyone was too busy, and she said it wasn’t that they were busy at all, but because they didn’t like us because we were Japanese American and not Japanese, and our neighbors didn’t like it that Mama worked because all the other Mama’s stayed at home and did housework.
I think it is sad that Mama works all the time, and she should be like all the other Mama’s.
But like she says she is working to feed me and buy my sneakers and put a roof over our heads so I think it is OK.
We still had cake and ice cream, and we wore very special hats that Mama made out of green and blue and red paper with sparkly stars on them and so I was proud to wear my special hat. I got two presents from those two little boys who came.
I don’t know what is going to happen on Dec. 12, 2012, like I said the 12-12-12 is a very special day, but Mama says we are going to make it special just by ourselves this time.
She looked angry again when she said this and also like she was going to cry and I felt like I was going to cry, too, though I don’t know why because we are talking about a very special day, and that’s a happy thing.
So I thought about what could be a very special day for Mama, and so I asked her: “Mama, what would you like to do on your funeral?”
Mama stopped moving all of a sudden, and I thought she might even spank me because it was so all of a sudden, though she hardly ever ever ever spanks me.
That was how sudden it was.
Then she went back to normal and said, “I want a lot of beautiful music.”
So I said very quickly to catch up with her suddenness, “Mama, I will play that music. I will.”
Then she reached out and hugged me, and she smelled like soap and my favorite blanket and maybe some food we are going to eat at dinner, and I felt happy again and warm inside.
As I was buried in that warmness and happiness, she whispered: On your birthday, we are going to go and get presents for ourselves.
You know where it is?
No, I said.
They are in the sky. The dots of light in the sky.
Oh, Mama, you mean the stars. They can be our presents?
Yes, she says, they are there for us to keep, but you have to be a good boy, and you can keep only one.
You can have one, too, Mama.
Thank you.
She says she is thinking about taking one of the two blue stars that are always together, and I know which ones she means because we go look outside our balcony at the stars and sometimes on weekends at the beach, where you can see them better.
I know she is hoping I will take the other blue star.
I don’t know why I know but I know. Maybe the same way I knew the right answer was French Fries.
It would be nice to be the two blue stars in the sky, always together _ Mama and me.
They aren’t really blue, they are kind of white, maybe dim and blending into the midnight blue-black of the sky, more blue than the other ones that look yellow or pink or really, really white.
I don’t know why, but, when I speak, I say something different.
Mama, I want the red big one, you know, the one that hangs low in the sky, like it’s waiting for something to happen, so quiet and almost evil, but filled with the power of making everything in the world good.
Mama doesn’t stop. Oh, that’s a good choice, she says without a blink of hesitation.
That big red star is just like you. I will be those two blue stars on the other side of the sky, like eyes, always watching from afar.
Please watch, Mama, I say.
We hug and cuddle close.
It is a very special day already.

No Gift of the Magi _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

No Gift of the Magi
A Poem by Yuri Kageyama

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.”

Japanophile Part 2 A Story by Yuri Kageyama

The toys piled up, evidence being submitted to prove an absent mother’s love.
The colorful trading cards were those warm hugs that were never given, the video-game cassettes in the dozens were those sleepless feverish nights forgotten, and the tiny cars that scuttled across the linoleum threatening to trip adult feet were those lullabies that fell silent. I wanted to prove I loved my toddler son, still too young to understand that I needed those hours away to pay the rent.
“When are you going to quit your job?” he would ask now and then, choosing a quiet moment he knows will get my full attention.
This is a serious question to be contended with. I want to cry. I would quit right now, if I could. But I don’t know how to tell him that.
His legs are starting to break out in hives, and because he scratches at his raw skin with his little clawlike nails, his calves are constantly bleeding.
Once I got a call from the social welfare office, wondering what’s going on. The doctor that I take him to for these allergies, as that’s what it is that is causing this itching, is giving me funny stares.
“My mommy doesn’t come home for a loooooong loooooong time,” I hear my son telling the doctor in his usual high-pitched singsong voice.
I was able to take some time off work the first few years after his birth. I dutifully followed the advice of La Leche League to breast-feed him as long as he wanted, or almost as long as he wanted, which turned out to be two years, after which I had to decide this was it.
He would cuddle next to my breast, sucking although he had grown to be more a little boy than a baby, staring into my eyes with total trust and the glee of possession, sometimes biting my nipple with his teeth or pulling with clamped lips until I had to ask him to stop. His looks said he was proud to have this privilege, especially because he no longer needed the nourishment.
A woman who happened to walk by remarked, “Oh, you are not working? So he doesn’t know the reality that is waiting for him; does he?”
I clearly remember the I-know-it-all expression of superiority on her face as though she had appointed herself a shaman fortune-teller, as do all those working women who went before me.
At least, they get to do that _ tell others what’s coming.
Even after my son started school, he didn’t really have a mother. I found out his friends were asking him: “Do you have a mother?”
It was a cruel, brutally straightforward question that children have a way of coming up with, but it was a valid question.
If others had moms picking them up and making nice lunches, and he didn’t, where was this mother?
Where was I for this child? Did this make me really a mother? Did I just want a child so I could have a child but without doing the job of being a mother?
I had to wipe the thought out of my mind when I was working. I had to forget.
Forgetting, you’d think, is something that happens naturally, what you thought you had tucked away in memory, some fold in your gray matter, slipping away. Oh, I forgot. But this was a different kind of forgetting.
It took a lot of concentration. But I was able to forget. If I did not forget, I would have lost my mind.
But I did forget.
But was this child able to forget?
Or did he have to fight the gnawing loneliness with all his might, fighting back tears and telling himself: “My mommy doesn’t come home for a loooooong loooooong time,” over and over?
It makes me afraid.
I cannot imagine such loneliness. To be a child and not have a mother. To be that tiny dot in the sky like a star all by itself in the universe and not know what is up or down, or if and when this horror will ever end.
To know not only that you are alone but that you are alone in this loneliness, that every other boy and girl had a mommy, that soft warm cuddly woman who came to pick kids up and made nicely decorated lunches.
How could a little mind forget? Even with all the colorful cards, games and tiny cars, reminding you that I do love you, how could he ever forget?
In his high school, there was one day hot lunch was not served, some strange practice to encourage parent-child bonding. My son didn’t even tell me.
I happened to see him jump into a convenience store to buy his lunch. That’s how I found out.
I felt a hot gush of guilt and sorrow as though it was enveloping me from the top of my head, the strange feeling I felt when I watched my father eat or my sister cry over nothing, when I was growing up.
I still have not figured out what this emotion meant. It tasted sour, like tiny pieces of glass, inside my mouth.

Haiku for Matisse by Yuri Kageyama

Haiku for Matisse
by Yuri Kageyama

Red over green
You got that right, Matisse
Then, Today and Forever.

And the Japanese translation
by Yuri Kageyama

俳句フォーマチス

グリーンよりあか
そのときもいまも
せいかい