The Apology _ A poem by Yuri Kageyama

The Apology
_ A poem by Yuri Kageyama

My voice screaming banzai
Ten thousand years banzai
Dying in glee as the divine devil wind
For the crane god whose voice I heard too late

My hand piercing your baby
A glob of meat with my bayonet
Raping girls in the name of comfort
Burning a city like a Sherman deranged

My heart that worships history
To win status as an honorary white
Bleeding streaks from a fluttering red sun
Despising those of the same yellow skin

My voice
My hand
My heart

My voice will never speak that way again
My hand will never act that way again
My heart will never feel that way again
No apology is enough but I promise
And I apologize

Guest in a white room _ A Poem by Yuri Kageyama

Guest in a white room
A Poem by Yuri Kageyama

not unwanted
just invisible
they glide across
smiling like shadows
silent of slurs
silent of praise
you know you are a guest
in a room meant for whites

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)

Reading poetry with music at a reggae party with Writers Bloc, the Juke Joint in Tokyo

Party for the Writers Bloc in Tokyo Dec. 15, 2013.

Party for the Writers Bloc in Tokyo Dec. 15, 2013.

jukejoint2

photos by Ayaka

jukejoint3

photo by Hiroko Tabuchi

We read “Little YELLOW Slut” at a party organized by Jamaican poets of Writers Bloc at the Juke Joint in Nishi Azabu, Tokyo, SUN Dec. 15, 2013.

Yuri Kageyama with her Yuricane band
Hirokazu Suyama drums and musical director
Hiroshi Tokieda bass
Yuiichiro Ishii guitar
and paid our homage to reggae.

Little YELLOW Slut
a poem by Yuri Kageyama
first published in KONCH MAGAZINE, 2009.

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,
Ashamed,
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.

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

STORY OF MIU by Yuri Kageyama, a reading with dance and music at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York (synopsis video)

STORY OF MIU a reading in New York _ synopsis video of a 40 minuted performance piece

Written by Yuri Kageyama. Directed by Carla Blank. Dance by Yuki Kawahisa.
Read by Yuri Kageyama and Yuki Kawahisa.
Music by Pheeroan akLaff and Tecla Esposito.
At the Bowery Poetry Club in New York, N.Y. April 1, 2012.
Film by Luis Silva.
Camera by Shiho Kataoka, Rebecca MacNiece and Khach Turabian.
A COLLAGE OF WORDS, SOUND AND MOVEMENT, A LATTER DAY NOH PLAY OF PAIN, LOVE AND SURVIVAL THAT DEFIES RACISM AND SEXISM OVER MOMENTS AND GENERATIONS.
A Tokyo Flower Children Production
“Story of Miu” was first published in “The New and Selected Yuri: Writing From Peeling Till Now” (Ishmael Reed Publishing Co., 2011).

Poetry with Music at Tokyo Woodstock

Poet YURI KAGEYAMA
reading “ode to the stoller” and “Little YELLOW Slut”
with the Yuricane
_ Hirokazu Suyama (drums), Hiroshi Tokieda (bass), Yuuichiro Ishii (guitar) and Winchester Nii Tete (kpanlogo drums)
at Tokyo Woodstock 2013 at What the Dickens,
Film by Luis Silva.
July 21, 2013.

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

Little YELLOW Slut
a poem by Yuri Kageyama
first published in KONCH MAGAZINE, 2009.

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,
Ashamed,
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.

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.

The Poetics of Being

The Poetics of Being
by Yuri Kageyama

When my first poem to be ever published, “The Big White Bitch,” appeared in Ishmael Reed and Al Young’s iconic “Y’Bird” 30 years ago, Geraldine Kudaka sighed, sympathy clear in her eyes, and remarked I was making a tough debut in the literary world as a “Third World feminist poet.”
I didn’t fully understand or maybe even care what that meant. And I probably still don’t.
I have never been much of a marketer.
If we believe in our work, as we certainly do, we must get the word out and get people to read what we have to say.
But for me, writing is a solitary act, a conversation with something absolute and eternal that is everywhere in everyday life, yet beyond everyday life.
I don’t write to please an audience, connect to a sociological category or further a political movement.
And so my poetry has basically not changed.
If the poetry I do, which may be what some call Third World feminist, is growing more readily accepted in the world today, perhaps because of advances we have made in diversity and sexual equality, that is as irrelevant to what I do as it was 30 years ago when I was writing in a room of my own, shouting in the wilderness, a shaman without a single listener.
That is because writing is solitary act, unaffected by how audiences may have changed.
That is not to say that the search for sexual and racial equality is irrelevant.
It is as relevant and pressing as ever.
There is sociological evidence that show how women of color today remain in some ways as underrepresented, stereotyped and powerless as they were in the 1970s.
The themes in my writing, which address how racism and sexism shape our relationships and our psyches, are not going to change like seasonal fashion plates, technological platform innovations or topical headlines.
The themes are too eternal, too universal, too real _ the pain the child feels when he or she is called “Jap,” the shock of realizing as a teen mainstream beauty standards mean the ugliest white person is going to “win” over the coolest-looking non-white person, the horror of knowing that around the world people are seeing their children starve, undergoing genital mutilation and risking their lives just to win the right to vote.
As poets and storytellers, we can only start _ right here _ with what we know, what we have seen, what is in our hearts, who we are, and no one can help us.
Writing is a solitary act.
We must be honest in a world full of lies, we must be fearless as we tremble in fear, and we must speak with our own voice, alone, and never try to please.
Last year, I got a new book out, “The New and Selected Yuri _ Writing From Peeling Till Now,” which compiles my poetry, stories and essays from the 1970s to today.
It, too, is published by Ishmael Reed, who put out my first book of poems, “Peeling” in 1988 _ as well as my first poem ever to be published, “Big White Bitch.”
The latest book includes a companion piece to that poem, “Little YELLOW Slut,” which runs down the stereotypes of the Asian female.
The imagery, this time, has taken a global turn, born in Hollywood and American pop but thriving, never lost in translation, in Tokyo, and vice versa.
I am proud of this poem and this book.
I am proud that someone like Ishmael Reed has believed in me and my work for more than 30 years.
I know nothing will ever stop me from writing more poems like these.
And I still have so many stories to tell.
I don’t feel I am returning to explore old themes.
I don’t feel I am trying to break new ground.
I am just writing.
The search for identity, love and erotica is as timeless as is my wish for racism and sexism to disappear from the face of this planet, no longer so urgent, so violent, so degrading.
Writing is a solitary act.
Gertrude Stein in “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas” talks about giving a lecture in Oxford, and how she answered questions about knowing “she was right in doing the kind of writing she did.”
“She answered that it was not a question of what any one thought, but after all she had been doing as she did for about 20 years,” she wrote.
“This did not mean of course that they were coming to think that her way was a possible way, it proved nothing, but on the other hand it did possibly indicate something.”