DIAMOND RING a poem by YURI KAGEYAMA

DIAMOND RING
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

That ring
Solitaire
That glistening rock
Magical
Probably stolen from Africa
No matter
Broken promises
Please marry me
Sitting on a velvety
Cushion
Cartier Tiffany’s
Harry Winston
Van Cleef & Arpels

After the young woman my son just broke up with
That young woman who played the violin
Asked me to go with her
To the clinic to get an abortion
I give her my grandmother’s diamond ring
The only diamond ring I’d ever owned
You can do whatever you want with it
Throw it away, pawn it away,
No, no, no, I can’t take this, she says
No, no no, I want you to have it, I say

That ring
Solitaire
That glistening rock
Magical
Probably stolen from Africa
No matter
Broken promises
Please marry me
Sitting on a velvety
Cushion
Cartier Tiffany’s
Harry Winston
Van Cleef & Arpels

With the passing of years
We outgrow our fetishes
I wonder if she still plays the violin
I don’t wonder about the ring

That ring
Solitaire
That glistening rock
Magical
Probably stolen from Africa
No matter
Broken promises
Please marry me
Sitting on a velvety
Cushion
Cartier Tiffany’s
Harry Winston
Van Cleef & Arpels

Loving Younger Men _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama in collaboration with Yui Shikakura on shamisen and song

“Loving Younger Men,” a poem written by Yuri Kageyama, read by Yuri Kageyama with Yui Shikakura on shamisen and singing at Bar Gari Gari in Tokyo at a Drunk Poets See God gathering Dec. 22, 2017. Her song is traditional Japanese “kudoki,” in which a woman talks about being abandoned by her lover, a genre that is sad but also an erotic celebration.
“Loving Younger Men” was first published in BEYOND RICE, A BROADSIDE SERIES, Mango Publications and NOLO Press, 1979.
Loving Younger Men
a poem by Yuri Kageyama
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.

My songwriting _ “Oh My Buddha” and “I Will Bleed”

Two of my songs in this new album

my songwriting

“Oh My Buddha” and “I Will Bleed,” two songs I co-wrote with Hiroshi Tokieda and Tea, are part of this great album that just came out (October 2017).
“Oh My Buddha” (audio of an earlier reading in the link) is an Asian take on what we often say: “Oh My God,” something that Toshinori Kondo pointed out some time back as what we should be saying as Asians.
And so I imagined what it would have been like to have been married to a great man like Buddha.
It might have not been as wonderful as it might seem.
Tea and I were talking about how fun it would be to write a pop song that was inspired by an Indian theme.
And so this is what we did.
I even rap or read my poem in the recording _ woooh la la !!

OH MY BUDDHA
_ a song about faith, love and other things
By Yuri Kageyama

REPEATING THEME:
My name is Yasodhara
Wife of Buddha
Mother of Rahula
I ride a white elephant
I am Siddharta’s woman

VERSE 1
You took off to find Nirvana
Became a hero for the poor
You just took off one sunny day
And found enlightenment
While I’m stuck in the kitchen
Barefoot and pregnant, alone

(Repeat theme)

VERSE 2
You’ve started a religion
See statues in your likeness
Of gold and bronze and wood
Sitting prim on that lotus
While I’m having your babies
Feeding them, aborting them, alone

(Repeat theme)

VERSE 3
You remember I cooked you breakfast?
So you could go and contemplate
Sitting 49 days under the Bodhi tree
To discover, sacrifice, meditate?
While I’m crying in my misery
Breathing my prayers, alone

(Repeat theme)

REFRAIN
You’re a superstar
I’m a nobody
You live in history
I die unknown
When I awoke
There was no sign of you
When I awoke
There was no sign of you
My universe went up in smoke
My universe went up in smoke
Oh, my Buddha
Oh, my Buddha

I am planning a music video, and I have asked Toshinori “Toshichael” Tani to come up with choreography.
He will dance in the video, which I will film.

“I Will Bleed,” to me, evokes a lot of things _ abortion, miscarriage, birth, heartbeat, love, death.
Love is such a powerful force it is both horrible and awful.
My poem is about that horror, inspired by the double suicides of Chikamatsu, which highlight how the puppets, in death, are able to transcend how miserable, human and lowly they were before that moment of death.
That beauty to me is about the kind of love that crosses boundaries, overcoming racism and other small, discriminatory, confining preconceptions.
It speaks of the potential of our human condition.
I wrote the poem for Hiroshi and Tea.
But it is a poem for all lovers, and the hope love will overcome hate around the world, through the purification of our bleeding.

Aging _ A Poetic Reflection by Yuri Kageyama

Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa

Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa

Aging _ A Poetic Reflection
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Skin loosens
But that hotness
That is you
Enclosed
A clear bubble of heavenly air _
Because skin is fallible,
Sags, blotches, wrinkles _
But that,
Still burning, hotter, inside,
That is you
Age can’t ever change this feeling:
This feeling
Of the man you love
Moving inside of you
With
That certainty,
And that child
Growing, living
Inside
That is you

HAIKU FOR SAGIMUSUME _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Heron in a Tokyo Park

Heron in a Tokyo Park

HAIKU FOR SAGIMUSUME
A poem by Yuri Kageyama

Dance from white to red
A ghostly bride mirrored in snow
Killed by love, she still lives

I saw Kikunosuke perform the Kabuki dance “Heron Maiden.”
I’ve seen the dance by Tamasaburo many times, but this version was special, perhaps because his subdued though utterly elegant interpretation so perfectly highlighted the beauty of the story and the music, or perhaps just because a garden near where I live, Hamarikyu, has herons.
Now, I know they are so still, perched on a rock with their crooked necks, as though they know but don’t care they are forming a perfect picture for an artist, so intensely focused, ruthless in their silence and stillness.
What a bird it is _ and what an image, forlorn and fantastic at once, to depict the love of a Japanese woman.
It is not necessary to have seen herons every day or be a Japanese woman to appreciate this gorgeous theater piece.
But it helps.
And I thank the god of poetry for giving me the gift that allows me to witness how this great Japanese dance and the humble dignity of the heron can transcend the finitude and pettiness of society.

Heron in a Tokyo Garden.

Heron in a Tokyo Garden.

OH MY BUDDHA _ A poem by Yuri Kageyama with Music composed by Tea and Hiroshi Tokieda

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

OH MY BUDDHA
_ a song about faith, love and other things
By Yuri Kageyama

REPEATING THEME:
My name is Yasodhara
Wife of Buddha
Mother of Rahula
I ride a white elephant
I am Siddharta’s woman

VERSE 1
You took off to find Nirvana
Became a hero for the poor
You just took off one sunny day
And found enlightenment
While I’m stuck in the kitchen
Barefoot and pregnant, alone

(Repeat theme)

VERSE 2
You’ve started a religion
See statues in your likeness
Of gold and bronze and wood
Sitting prim on that lotus
While I’m having your babies
Feeding them, aborting them, alone

(Repeat theme)

VERSE 3
You remember I cooked you breakfast?
So you could go and contemplate
Sitting 49 days under the Bodhi tree
To discover, sacrifice, meditate?
While I’m crying in my misery
Breathing my prayers, alone

(Repeat theme)

REFRAIN
You’re a superstar
I’m a nobody
You live in history
I die unknown
When I awoke
There was no sign of you
When I awoke
There was no sign of you
My universe went up in smoke
My universe went up in smoke
Oh, my Buddha
Oh, my Buddha

Sung by Tea Tokieda and Read by Yuri Kageyama.
Music composed by Tea and Hiroshi Tokieda.
Bass by Hiroshi Tokieda, percussions/tabla by Hirokazu Suyama Jackson and shakuhachi by Kouzan Kikuchi.
At Infinity Books AUG 7, 2016, in Tokyo.
Inspired by and dedicated to Toshinori Kondo, who is constantly exploring the meaning of the Asian sound/literarture/self in the world, and told me once that we should all start saying: “Oh My Buddha,” like the way Westerners say: “Oh My God.”
So this is a song about what it would like to be the wife of Buddha _ that behind-every-man-is-a-woman story, and how we women are selfless in love and almost always invisible:

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

I WILL BLEED a song about love that defies all _ a finalist in a UK songwriting contest

I co-wrote the poem/lyrics with Trupti for “I WILL BLEED,” a song about star-crossed lovers inspired by Chikamatsu‘s double-suicides written for Bunraku puppet theater, about how love, no matter how simple, mundane and pathetic, endures, even in death.
The melody was composed by Trupti and Hiroshi Tokieda, who also plays bass in this fine rendition at his father’s Tokyo recording studio (SoundCloud below).
The musical composition by the couple songwriting team was selected a finalist winner in the U.K. Songwriting Contest in December 2015.
I am blessed to be collaborating with and just to know these two young brilliant musicians. I have seen them get married, despite being of different nationalities and backgrounds, tied together so absolutely through their love for music, and their love for each other.
They met at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where my son Isaku Kageyama graduated recently, and performed together in different musical groups, with both Trupti and Hiroshi.
They are our future, and the future of the best in music.
The best in us. All of us.
What I want to say in this song is that I still believe in love.
I wrote the poem and worked on the song with Trupti, knowing all the while that Trupti would sing it, and that Hiroshi and Trupti would compose the music together.
The song debuted at my poetry reading and tribute to my poet mentor Ishmael Reed at SFJAZZ CENTER in June 2014 (YouTube clip below).
They are the idea for this song.
They are this song.
I created this song for them.

I WILL BLEED
V1
I won’t cry (a)
Coz it’s in love that I bleed (b)
A bridge of ribbon that carries me (b)
Across waves of war no one can see (b)
V2
I won’t run (a)
My blood will rush strong and drain (b)
All my pride, prejudice and pain (b)
Only our love will still remain (b)
C
I will bleed (a)
But I won’t flee,
Hell is what I desire (b)
I will bleed
But I won’t hide
Hell is what I desire
Such heavenly fire
V3
I won’t sleep (a)
Until this ocean turns to wine (b)
On a night when our stars align (b)
Lying cheek to cheek no longer confined (x)
V4
We will live (a)
You the east and me the sun (b)
Not afraid of different tongues (b)
Our blood joined will make us one (x)

KAMIKAZE A POEM BY YURI KAGEYAMA

KAMIKAZE
A poem by Yuri Kageyama
with
Yuuichiro Ishii on Guitar

Okaasan
Boku wa ashita shutsugeki shimasu.
I take off on my mission tomorrow.
I am so sorry I have not been a good son, leaving you so soon.
It’s such a peaceful evening _ so quiet I can almost hear the fireflies glowing.
I don’t know why, but I am filled with happiness, well, maybe not happiness, since I must say goodbye.
But this feeling fills my heart, all the way to the top of my pilot helmet, like a stretching sky without a single cloud.
I will fly my Zero, and fly and fly.
Into that perfect rainbow circle of hope.

a-5190
photo by Eba Chan

Memorable Flowers _ A Haiku Poem by Yuri Kageyama

Memorable Flowers _ A Haiku Poem by Yuri Kageyama

high-school prom corsage
a lover’s bouquet on pay day
weeds your child picks for you

My Poem “ode to the stroller” now part of the Public Poetry Series

My Poem “ode to the stroller” now part of the Public Poetry Series.
Poetry by Yuri Kageyama.
Read by Hirokazu “Jackson” Suyama.
Film by Adam Lewis.

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