Little YELLOW Slut

Reworked to add a new line: “Charlie Chan’s Angel”

Little YELLOW Slut
By Yuri Kageyama

You know her:
That Little YELLOW Slut, proudly gleefully
YELLOW-ly hanging on Big Master’s arm,
War bride, geisha,
GI’s home away from home,
Whore for last samurai,
Hula dancer with seaweed hair,
Yoko Ohno,
Akihabara cafe maid,
Hi-Hi Puffy Ami/Yumi,
Kawaiiii like keitai,
Back-up dancer for Gwen Stefani,
Your real-life Second Life avatar
Eager to deliver your freakiest fetish fantasies,
Disco queen, skirt up the crotch,
Fish-net stockings, bow-legged, anorexic, raisin nipples, tip-toeing Roppongi on
Stiletto heels.

Yessu, i spikku ingrishhu, i raikku gaijeeen, they kiss you,
hold your hand, open doors for me,
open legs for you, giggling pidgin, covering mouth,
so happy to be
Little YELLOW Slut.

Everybody’s seen her:
That Little YELLOW Slut, waiting at
Home, cooking rice, the Japanese
Condoleezza Rice,
Smelling of sushi,
Breath and vagina,
Fish and vinegar,
Fermented rice,
Honored to be
Cleaning lady,
Flight attendant for Singapore Airlines,
Charlie Chan’s Angel,
Nurse maid, gardener, Japan-expert’s wife,
Mochi manga face,
Yodeling minyo, growling enka,
Sex toy, slant-eyes closed, licking, tasting, swallowing STD semen,
Every drop.

Yessu, i wanna baby who looohkuh gaijeen, double-fold eye, translucent skin, international school PTA,
maybe grow up to be fashion model, even joshi-ana,
not-not-not happy to be
Little YELLOW Slut.

I recognize her:
That Little YELLOW Slut, rejecting
Japanese, rejected by Japanese,
Empty inside,
They all look alike,
Faceless, hoping to forget, escape
To America,
Slant-eyed clitoris,
Adopted orphan,
Dream come true for pedophiles,
Serving sake, pouring tea, spilling honey,
Naturalized citizen,
Buying Gucci,
Docile doll,
Rag-doll, Miss Universe, manic harakiri depressive, rape victim, she is
You, she is me.

Hai, hai, eigo wakarimasen, worship Big Master for mind, matter, muscle, money, body size correlates to penis size,
waiting to be sexually harassed, so sorry, so many,
so sad to be
Little YELLOW Slut.


by Yuri Kageyama
Reading at the Pink Cow in Tokyo June 8,2008.

When you cut your finger against the end of a piece of paper, and it hurts and the blood spurts out, you remember blood, lots of it, curdling red ink with a sweaty smell, is rushing around your body, all of it, brain, eyeballs, cell tissue, spine, toes, your heart is pumping like quivering red rubber and your lungs are going in and out, in and out.
When you stop to think about it, you want to scream and you almost forget how to breathe.
People who believe in Reincarnation say it would be a waste of lives to have so many people alive and then die and so god must recycle all those lives.
It is nothing short of a miracle we continue to live everyday despite all the deaths everyday. And each one of us is dying gradually everyday.
But for the most part, we don’t get shot, we don’t get run over, we don’t crash, we don’t get a deadly disease, we don’t get stabbed, beaten to death, crushed in an earthquake, commit suicide, and we live live live live.
And each day adds to the next day and pretty soon we are old but still we live and we don’t think about the blood circulating or the each and every breath we take or the fact that we have averted death for the moment.
We are alive.
But we could at any moment take a long silver needle and poke it in our eye, blinding ourselves in blinding rage.
We could jump into the wind from the station platform as the train glides in with a rattle, although the mirror is there to remind us how ghostly we look and make us think again how foolish this act is that we are contemplating to die this moment instead of the next moment when we do get shot or get cancer or our hearts stop or our lungs fail.
My mother is dying of pancreas cancer, and I can finally smell death, that unmistakable stench that sticks inside your nostrils for hours, maybe even a day, trailing you from the hospice room.
She has lost so much weight she looks like a bird, her nose pointed like a beak in a mummified face.
She lies curled up in the bed, her arms clasped into herself, a scrawny embryonic chick in a nest, and her beady eyes are expressionless, unmoving, staring into your eyes, and she won’t close them because she knows you are her daughter and these may be the last moments, and she needs to look, but you just want her to close her eyes so you can leave and forget.
She couldn’t even speak then.
When she could still move, when she was at the hospital, not the hospice, where patients are getting treatment to live, she was just a burden on the nurses and they want her to move to a hospice, she would grow delirious on pain-killers and start walking around the hallways naked, announcing: She must leave now because Otoosama _ her husband, my father _ has arrived to get her.
My father is dead.
Before that, when she was still undergoing tests, and she had always instructed us she never wanted to know it, if she ever got cancer, and so we couldn’t tell her, she says to me: “I wasn’t a very good mother, was I?”
This is a very important conversation.
But I brush it off. I don’t want to talk about this, do I? because then wouldn’t we be talking about her death?
“I watch you and your sister, how the both of you think about and interact with your children,” she says. “And I realize I wasn’t a good parent. I know this watching the both of you as parents.”
She goes on, matter of fact, her father, was a big believer in education and sent all his children, even the daughters, unusual for those times in Japan, to urban schools.
My mother was second from the youngest so she was barely in elementary school when she was sent to live away from home with her sisters and brothers to go to good schools.
And so she grew up never knowing the intimacy of a relationship between a mother and child.
She doesn’t have to apologize. And I should reach out and hug her, but all I remember is how she never stopped him, her husband, my father, when he beat me, how I had to cower, never apologizing, and all she did was sit quietly and pray and be patient and believe the anger will pass like a typhoon, leaving behind just tiny purple bruise marks on sallow skin, as sanity returns to the Ph. D. in engineering, professor, salaryman, head of the household, and all would be well.
He needs a break from work, it is stressful, he needs to go the family beach villa.
She has already made arrangement, and I must go with him, the ever faithful daughter, because he can’t go alone.
“It can’t be me. It must be you,” she says, as though this is decided, ironing the white shirts and folding them on top of each other on the tatami mat.
She doesn’t tell me until years later. She worried about me every day, praying he wasn’t beating me.
He didn’t beat me. We took turns rowing a wooden boat. We went fishing til our fingers smelled like worms. We lowered cages into the water with fish heads, and drew them up to find crabs entangled with each other.
But I can’t forgive, not just yet, though no one has to apologize.
I call my sister on the train back from the hospital.
“She is going to die,” I say, breathless, more from excitement than from sadness. She is dying but she is realizing and she is changing.
What she is saying is so profound she had to be dying. Really dying.
It should have been like the movies.
I should have forgiven her, a moment of reconciliation before the moment of death.
You are a good mother.
Remember all the Ryunosuke Akutagawa stories you read to me in the kitchen, but you told me the stories I wrote, secretly, in big block letters in a worn out notebook were petty and would never amount to anything?
Remember how you wanted to go back to school for your Master’s degree, but you had to cook and clean and you gave up?
Remember how you won awards with those elaborate sumi calligraphy on rice paper, painting ancient words no one could read?
Remember how you sat naked in the bath tub, thinking your solitary thoughts, and you hated your husband, my father, because he bought you the wrong-size ring in an overseas business trip?
Today, you taught me how people keep evolving til the last moment of life.
No, you are not a bad mother at all.
This is the best gift you have given me.
I have learned the lesson of death although I still can’t understand how we manage to keep living day by day, lungs breathing and heart beating and you feel so faraway and I can’t remember barely anything else about you.

People Who Know Pain

Reading with violinist Yumi Miyagishima at What the Dickens in Tokyo.
The Japanese use the expression “hitono itami wo wakaru/shiru” often, which means “knowing people’s pain.”
It’s part of being a conformist society that the quality of being able to understand how others feel is valued.
But often this becomes another way of making people feel small and unaccepted because it’s a way to define what’s correct/not correct in a very narrow way.
I wrote this thinking partly about that, but also about the poem by Kenji Miyazawa about that character whom no one would see as a hero _ in Japan or the U.S. _ who is never after societal recognition, carrying on always _ rain or shine _ but the way Miyazawa put it in those memorable first lines: “undefeated neither by rain nor wind …” Miyazawa is one of Japan’s biggest literery figures. But as with many works in Japanese, English translations don’t/can’t do justice to his greatness.

People Who Know Pain

The World is divided bet-
Ween two kinds of People
The Winners and the Losers
The Takers and the Givers
The Famous and the Forgotten
The Loved and the Unloved _
Those who don’t care and

People who know Pain
People who know Pain

when your tongue rolls, the
tips of my nipples, piercing
knife of betrayal

Vincent Van Gogh
John Coltrane
Garcia Marquez
Toulouse Lautrec
Billie Holliday
Richard Wright
Kenji Miyazawa

People who know Pain
People who know Pain

baby foxes dance,
leaving paw marks in the snow,
fairy tale of joy

Hermit, victim,
Outcast, untouched,
They travel faceless
Shadows on the subway
Mute, unconnected,
Unknowing of their own Pain

People who know Pain
People who know Pain

bitter memories grow
a cancer pomegranate
bleeding and rotting

I’d rather shelter that Pain alone
A powerless nobody,
Ashamed, shunned,
Stench of insignificance,
Laughing the idiot’s laugh,
Running forgotten errands,
Dying before living like other

People who know Pain
People who know Pain

a zillion light years
the planet pulsates timeless
soundless universe

I’d never be that superior someone who
Conquers, fornicates, lynches,
Deposits paychecks, plans careers,
Forms opinions, writes reviews,
Weighs pros and cons, wins awards,
Attends receptions, discriminates,
Never knowing, shrugging off, how painful

People’s Pain can be
People’s Pain can be

For women only

For women only

rubbing shoulders,
we rattle silently over the tracks
blouses, tucked bags, even powdered chins,
up too close to really see;
we sense only relief
we smell no greasy beards or sweaty suits or
beer breath of the morning after _
this morning commuter train
“josei senyo sha”
for women only,
introduced to protect the gentle sex
from those groping dark hands
preying prying fingers, stroking thigh,
poking panties,
pretending to be penises
right in public transport,
“josei senyo sha”
this is the kindness of Japanese society:
let chikan go unchecked,
forgiven for their mischief,
and give us, women, this special spot
farthest from the action
farthest from the ticket gates
the first car up front,
and the most dangerous
if we crash

Poetry and Music at the Pink Cow in Shibuya

Images from Photos by Memo Vasquez and hi_bana. Poster design by teruyuki kawabata.


Poet Yuri Kageyama presents
Teruyuki Kawabata (percussion),
Winchester Nii Tete (percussion),
Haruna Shimizu (kpanlogo), Keiji Kubo (didgeridoo),
Yumi Miyagishima (violin), Carl Freire (guitar).
The Pink Cow
Villa Moderuna B1 1-3-18 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0002
DJ C.Geez (super soul music and dope true-school hip hop) 7 p.m.
Poetry and music 8 p.m. Free admission. Doors open 5 p.m.
Come early for dinner and the best seats!
Yummy Pink Cow food and drinks available to order at the bar!

Please celebrate the publication of Yuri Kageyama’s story in
“POWWOW: American Short Fiction from Then to Now,”
edited by Ishmael Reed with Carla Blank (Da Capo Press).
Kageyama’s works have appeared in many literary publications,
including “Y’Bird,” “Greenfield Review,” “On a Bed of Rice” and
“Stories We Hold Secret.” She has a book of poems “Peeling.”
The TOKYO FLOWER CHILDREN is a project Kageyama began last year to collaborate with Tokyo musicians in readings of her poetry.

Music maker, designer and self-proclaimed “shy and wagamama only child,” TERUYUKI KAWABATA leads Tokyo band CigaretteSheWas. The group has a CD album coming out this year.

Master percussionist WINCHESTER NII TETE hails from the honorable Addy-Amo-Boye families of drummers of Ghana. He plays with the Ghana national troupe, Sachi Hayasaka, Yoshio Harada and Takasitar.

HARUNA SHIMIZU of CigaretteSheWas fell in love with Ghana’s kpanlogo drum while she was in college. She has kept at it as freely as her spirit moves her.

KEIJI KUBO, who plays the didgeridoo and bass, is a linguist and student. He has total respect for aboriginal culture and all cultural integrity.

Violinist YUMI MIYAGISHIMA plays with CigaretteSheWas, Kyosuke Koizumi, The little witch and other groups.

CARL FREIRE is a Tokyo-based writer, translator and musician.

DEEJAY C. GEEZ from St.Louis has been a DJ since 1997 and living in Japan since 2006.

May 4 Reading of "an ode to the Caucasian male"

Carl Freire and I reading “an ode to the Caucasian male” at What the Dickens in Tokyo.

Published in “Peeling,” by Yuri Kageyama, Berkeley, Calif.: I. Reed Press, 1988.
First published in “Women Talking, Women Listening.”

an ode to the Caucasian male

white man
white man
with the silky blond hair
the emerald-blue eyes
and the cool million dollar grin
I won’t mind being a Suzy Wong for you.
I’m tired of the laundry-men
and the dirty restaurant cooks
who can only smell of won ton soup
and talk about chowmein
they don’t have the powers,
the style you do
seems you’ve got to be white
to really be a man
the long sleek legs
with the acid rock walk
in the hot tight pants
where the warm prick dwells
it’s okay
you see only the race in me
just a stereotype, not my personality
it’s okay
cuz, white man
you have
to give.

Tokyo Flower Children 5

Winchester Nii Tete hails from a famous family of drummers in Ghana. And Tokyo is so lucky to have him.
His playing is energetic, joyous, dignified, virtuous.
Behind him is Teruyuki Kawabata, leader of Cigarette She Was , a composer/lyricist who plays the guitar, percussion and other instruments.
On his right is Keiji Kubo, a language expert who totally respects aboriginal culture, and plays the bass/didgeridoo.
On Winchester’s left is Haruna Shimizu, also with Cigarette She Was, who someday wants to have her own cafe-on-wheels.
I get in a lecture mood when I hang out with such talented pure-spirited people.
I have told Winchester he has beautiful eyes.
I have told Teruyuki his “Jounetsu wo torimodosou” is a great song.
I have told Keiji his girlfriend Akiko is “KawaYUUUUUI!”
And so, at the Pit Inn in Shinjuku, the other night, I told Haruna she must stick with the man she chooses to love because loving someone isn’t about weighing the pro’s and con’s to get a good deal.
Too many Japanese women are still waiting for that deal _ like they are prizes to be won.
Love is not something you receive from someone else. It is all and only about your Self.
It’s a lifelong battle _ like Art and Life.
Love endures through tick and thin, through sickness and health, through the good times and the bad.

Tokyo Flower Children 4
Tokyo Flower Children 2
Tokyo Flower Children
Tokyo Flower Children 3

Ecological Fur

It’s real fur.
But Chie Imai has added recycled polyester as fabric to a few of her 2008-2009 collection items to make it luxury fur with a green conscience.
My story.
Two women were sitting across the table from me during the show.
One of them said with a giggle: “This fur costs 20 million yen. You can buy an apartment with that.”
Then the other said: “You cannot buy an apartment with 20 million yen.”
Imai says global warming has hurt the demand for fur, although sales are growing in new markets like Russia and China.
And so she has also come up with “seasonless fur” products.
She showed me a short jacket of white lacey fabric with white fur trim that she said can be worn in air-conditioned places even in the summer.

an ode to the Caucasian male

Poetry by Yuri Kageyama.
Guitar and music arrangement by Carl Freire.
Recorded in Green Village Studios, Tokyo, April 13, 2008.
“an Ode to the Caucasian male,” from Yuri Kageyama, “Peeling,” Berkeley, Calif: I. Reed Press, 1988.
First published in “Women Talking, Women Listening.”

an ode to the Caucasian male

white man
white man
with the silky blond hair
the emerald-blue eyes
and the cool million dollar grin
I won’t mind being a Suzy Wong for you.
I’m tired of the laundry-men
and the dirty restaurant cooks
who can only smell of won ton soup
and talk about chowmein
they don’t have the powers,
the style you do
seems you’ve got to be white
to really be a man
the long sleek legs
with the acid rock walk
in the hot tight pants
where the warm prick dwells
it’s okay
you see only the race in me
just a stereotype, not my personality
it’s okay
cuz, white man
you have
to give.

Rei Sato at Kaikai Kiki Gallery

Rei Sato is one of Japan’s brilliant young artists who are part of Kaikai Kiki, the studio of Takashi Murakami.
Her whimsical lyrical works take the pop manga style of the Murakami School, defiant, maddeningly vibrant, so hardened and cynical, a step further, perhaps, in a more serene and introverted direction.
They give a view of the world of a child fingerpainting fish, the happy sun, girls with quizzical expressions and weedlike flowers, sometimes on fabric, sometimes on enlarged photos that are lazy snapshots, like those taken on cell phones, purposely making no assertions whatsoever except in seeing, recording and being.
A makeshift cafe at the gallery _ low coffee tables, muted lighting, a guitarist sending bubbly sounds through electronic equipment, hushed conversations _ also included a book shelf filled with knickknacks: fuzzy stuffed animals, figures, plastic watches, books, a half-filled pot of herb tea, tawdry memorabilia, everyday items that give glimpses into the artist’s mind.
Making your way toward the back, ducking hanging beads and pieces of cloth of different colors, you see that the works become more and more like scribbles, pencil drawings of tiny girls, forgotten notes, scrawled on bits of paper, fragments of thoughts, mischievous markings on newspaper. And in the very back next to old posters of Japanese movies are graphic art from Yumeji Takehisa and the words:
“I want to be a poet.”