A journal of my poetry, music and other thoughts that I kept from April through May 2020 about living in a post-pandemic world has now been published in the special issue of Ishmael Reed’s KONCH online literary magazine. And what great company I am in.
Published in the January 2015 issue of KONCH MAGAZINE, edited by Ishmael Reed and Tennessee Reed:
AN ODE TO A NUCLEAR CATASTROPHE
_ A POEM BY YURI KAGEYAMA
PART ONE: HIROSHIMA
they wander like a whisper
over this city
blending with the sea breeze
the soft light
the cracks of scars
not just one ghost or two
but tens of thousands
who all looked up and saw a flash
turning people into dead globs of charcoal;
there are no photos from that day,
they wander, crawling, naked, moaning,
flesh hanging like tatters;
they’re asking that question,
we did nothing wrong
why oh why
when all it can do is
kill kill kill kill
turning skin eyeballs laughter head back legs
into a keloid of hell,
but no one really answers.
^___< PART TWO: FUKUSHIMA
Y’all, it’s a Meltdown nation
Covered in the fear
Of unseen radiation
But Don’t you expect
All you will find
Is fear and contamination.
Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
Instead of a holler
Hear just a whimper
They say it is safe
The kids like Chernobyl
Are coming down sick
With Thyroid cancer.
Y’all, it’s no hallucination
The refugees’ life
Just nuclear explosions
Get your dosimeter
Cesium in the water
Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
The radiated Brothers
Faces are hidden
Goggles and masks
Like an astronaut
From head to toe
The Invisible workers
Our next Generation.
Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
No-go zones forever
The World must remember.
^___< PART THREE: IT IS ALL TELEVIZED
Tiny cars gobbled up
In a crescendo of raging water
They are not plastic toys
Floating in a tub
They drop from
Concrete, suddenly bending like rubber
We see people moving
Flecks of flesh, faces inside
Are they screaming?
Are they laughing?
Are they thinking of death?
As we all watch
Hundreds of miles away,
It is all televised
The flickering screens and broadcaster voices
Remind us of what we have already felt
Our own skins shaking
Hard breathing, fear of dying,
The swaying building
A giant quake not seen for centuries
Rattling in a bolt of God’s wrath
Tipping the bath tub of
The Pacific Ocean
Blanketing miles of coastlines with junk and mud
Buses on top of roofs
Ships climbing into towns
Brothers, children, farmers, teachers, truck drivers
Our prayers aren’t over
When it is again all televised
The shuddering explosion
At Fukushima Daiichi
Nuclear power plant
Oh, my God
Oh, my God
Oh, my God
Tokyo Electric Power Co. is reporting that about 3:36 p.m. today there was a vertical sharking, an explosion going boom, and white smoke rising at Reactor One of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. As a result of this explosion, two Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees and two other workers have been injured. The cause of the explosion is under investigation, and other details are not immediately available.
We don’t know it yet
We are living the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl
We write and hear
Over and over
The worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl
A fume of noise and error
Spewing invisible radiation
Names we know like plutonium
And iodine but with strange numbers after it, like 131
Or stranger names we do not know
Part of our everyday lives
Unstable conditions are continuing at Reactor One of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant as the water level continues to drop for the coolant designed to cool the reactor core. Under these conditions, there is likely a meltdown.
We are all witnesses
We are all victims
We are all reporters.
We are all mothers
We are all children
We are all perpetrators
We are all culprits
Although no one knows
And no one is accountable
Although it is all televised
Smoke billowing from
A giant fire with no flames
A ghostly skeleton of bleeding
Please stay indoors
Please shut your doors and windows.
Massive radiation has arrived.
^___< PART FOUR: MYTHICAL MONSTER
Buried in the mud
Of meltdown metal
A black-light coastline
Tomari to Genkai
鯰 Catfish moves
And the Earth rumbles
Sways its tail
And skyscrapers crumble
Swishes a whisker
Bridges, roads shatter
Bigger and bigger
Eight snake faces
Eight dragon tails
Yamata no Orochi
鯰 Monster lives
Our daughters and sons
Every year, a sacrifice
Hundred eight brave samurai
They’re all dead,
Trying to kill it 鯰
^___< PART FIVE: A MOTHER SPEAKS
Please listen and tell the world.
How our children in Fukushima are getting thyroid cancer, one by one.
My daughter is one of them.
Pediatric thyroid cancer is rare.
The chance for getting it is under one in a million.
One in a million.
But in Fukushima, it’s 112 out of some 380,000 children tested, and the tally is growing.
This is Fukushima after Three-Eleven.
Beautiful Fukushima, where rice paddies stretch between lazy mountains.
Beautiful Fukushima, where snow falls everywhere like fluffy rice.
Beautiful Fukushima, where, when spring finally comes, cherry trees explode in pink chiffon.
But this is Fukushima after Three-Eleven.
No other place in Japan is like that.
No other place in the world is like that _ except for the Ukraine and Belarus.
But they say these cases are turning up, these cases that should be under one in a million, because we are looking so much harder, testing all the children in Fukushima.
The authorities say they are just playing it safe.
When no one really feels safe
After Three-Eleven in Fukushima.
My little girl got surgery and so her tumor was removed.
And the doctor told me: Aren’t you so lucky?
Aren’t you so lucky we did those tests to save your child?
If we hadn’t, the cancer might not have been found.
But I don’t feel lucky.
I don’t feel lucky at all.
We are putting on a poetry reading with music at the SFJAZZ CENTER in San Francisco to pay tribute to the center’s Poet Laureate Ishmael Reed SAT June 28, 2014.
Ishmael is my mentor and my muse.
He is also my first publisher.
This is my way of saying: Thank you.
Thank you, Ishmael.
Thank you, Poetry.
Thank you, San Francisco.
The SFJAZZ CENTER at 201 Franklin Street.
Yuri Kageyama’s “Fukushima” A poem with music _ an early version as it was born in a Tokyo garage. On SoundCloud.
ISHMAEL REED, the legendary poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, educator and thinker, TAKES CENTER STAGE AT THE SFJAZZ CENTER in San Francisco, where he is the poet laureate, to read his works in an evening of POETRY AND MUSIC, celebrating his multicultural and multi-format legacy.
MINER AUDITORIUM at the SFJAZZ CENTER (201 Franklin Street at Fell San Francisco, CA, USA)
FREE ADMISSION Saturday, June 28, 2014 7 pm – 9 pm (Doors open 6:30 pm)
Ishmael Reed, one of the most respected American writers today, has fascinated and provoked many. A winner of the MacArthur “genius” award, he has published more than 20 books, including “Mumbo Jumbo” and “Japanese By Spring.” He has recorded the spoken word with renowned musicians. Coming soon is a nonfiction work on Muhammad Ali, “Bigger Than Boxing.”
To his credit, he has also published the works of lesser known writers, including some of his students at the University of California, Berkeley, highlighting voices from minority groups that rarely get mainstream media exposure.
“Ishmael Reed was the first person to publish my poem, and that meant so much to a young poet who felt so alone but had so much to say,” says Tokyo-based poet and writer Yuri Kageyama, who is organizing the tribute for her mentor at the SFJAZZ CENTER.
Kageyama will be reading with her band from Japan, the Yuricane, inspired by Reed’s introduction to her latest book, “The New and Selected Yuri _ Writing From Peeling Till Now,” from Ishmael Reed Publishing Co. The band features drummer Hirokazu Suyama, bassist Hiroshi Tokieda , guitarist Hide Asada and Trupti Pandkar on vocals, who all hail from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. They stand for a new breed of Asian artists, who are not afraid to challenge cultural boundaries.
Tennessee Reed, author of “Spell Alburquerque: Memoir of a ‘Difficult’ Student,” and “Adventures Among the X Challenged,” is the special guest.
ISHMAEL REED PUBLISHING COMPANY PRESENTS A BOOK PARTY for
“The New and Selected Yuri,” poetry and stories by YURI KAGEYAMA:
Bowery Poetry Club 308 Bowery (between Houston and Bleecker) New York City
Sunday, April 1, 2012 8 p.m.
Special Guests ISHMAEL REED and TENNESSEE REED.
A reading-performance of “STORY OF MIU,” written by Yuri Kageyama, directed by CARLA BLANK, featuring dancer YUKI KAWAHISA, with music by PHEEROAN AKLAFF, in a collage of words, sound and movement, a pan-Pacific tale of pain, love and survival that defies racism and sexism over moments and generations.
Ishmael Reed is the author of “Mumbo Jumbo,” “Juice,” “The Last Days of Louisiana Red,” “Japanese by Spring,” “Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down” and some 20 other books. He is a poet, publisher, satirist, playwright, pianist, TV producer and songwriter. He taught at the University of California Berkeley for more than 30 years. He founded the Before Columbus Foundation.
Carla Blank has been a performer, director, dramaturge and teacher of dance and theater for more than 40 years. Recently, she worked with Robert Wilson on “KOOL – Dancing in My Mind” inspired by Japanese choreographer Suzushi Hanayagi, a longtime collaborator. Since 2003 she has been dramaturge and director of the two-act play “The Domestic Crusaders” by Wajahat Ali. She has taught at the University of California Berkeley, Dartmouth College and the University of Washington.
Yuki Kawahisa, a native of Japan, is an actor and performance artist. Based in New York, Kawahisa has been performing her own works and others’ works internationally, including Canada, France, Germany, Austria, Japan, Indonesia and Australia. She has worked with internationally acclaimed theater directors Robert Wilson and Richard Forman, as well as with dancers, media artists, painters, vocal artists and musicians.
Pheeroan AkLaff is a New York-based drummer and composer, who has played with Oliver Lake, Anthony Davis, Henry Threadgill, Cecil Taylor, Yosuke Yamashita and Andrew Hill. He was a headliner at many festivals including Moers and Nurnberg. He led the Double Duo ensemble dedicated to the spiritual music of John Coltrane. He teaches at Wesleyan University.
Tennessee Reed is the author of five poetry collections and a memoir. She has read in the U.S., the Netherlands, Germany and Japan. Her sixth poetry collection “New and Selected Poetry 1982-2010” will be published by World Parade this year. She is managing editor of Konch Magazine. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley, and an M.F.A. from Mills College.
Yuri Kageyama’s poetry, short stories and essays have been published in “Y’Bird,” “Pow Wow,” “Breaking Silence” “On a Bed of Rice,” Konch and “Pirene’s Fountain.” She reads with her band Yuricane, featuring Eric Kamau Gravatt, Isaku Kageyama, Winchester Nii Tete and other multicultural musicians. Japanese director Yoshiako Tago is documenting her readings on film, “Talking TAIKO.”
Film by Yoshiaki Tago
Film by Yoshiaki Tago.
Talking TAIKO Book party for “The New and Selected Yuri _ Writing From Peeling Till Now” at Yoshi’s in San Francisco MON Aug. 15, 2011.
An evening of poetry by Yuri Kageyama with music by The Yuricane:
Eric Kamau Gravatt (drums), Makoto Horiuchi (guitar, musical director), Isaku Kageyama (taiko, percussion), Hiroyuki Shido (bass), Glen Pearson (keyboards), Ashwut Rodriguez (guitar).
Special Guests: Ishmael Reed, Tennessee Reed and Carla Blank.
A firsthand report in Jazz Advance: Borderless Poetics: Taiko Meets Jazz at My Book Party.