A POEM FOR JOURNALISM by Yuri Kageyama

Joe Oyama in an Online California Archives photo, as he stands in the New York headquarters of the Common Council for American Unity. Joe was assistant editor of the Japanese American daily in Los Angeles before he was interned, in Santa Anita Assembly Center and Jerome Relocation Center, where both he and his wife Sami worked as journalists. After moving to New York in 1944, he was editor of the News Letter of the Japanese American Committee for Democracy. He and his wife were also both actors. They moved to Berkeley in their later years. I got to know him and Sami and their two children, who are also great artists. Joe was always supportive of my poetry:

Joe Oyama in an Online California Archives photo, as he stands in the New York headquarters of the Common Council for American Unity. Joe was assistant editor of the Japanese American daily in Los Angeles before he was interned, in Santa Anita Assembly Center and Jerome Relocation Center, where both he and his wife Sami worked as journalists. After moving to New York in 1944, he was editor of the News Letter of the Japanese American Committee for Democracy. He and his wife were also both actors. They moved to Berkeley in their later years. I got to know him and Sami and their two children, who are also great artists. Joe was always supportive of my poetry: “Like champagne,” he said once. This poem is for Joe and all the other great journalists. May the legacy live on.

A Poem for Journalism
By Yuri Kageyama

A Tree, a Story, a Drum
Circles carved times over,
Coded rhythms of continents
Animal skin stretched, carefully nailed,
So our heartbeat is not lost _
The snare, congas, kpanlogo, tabla, taiko,
Talking drums speaking faraway tongues _
Stories killed, stories buried,
Stories denied, stories untold,
Perhaps we were just not stopped before
When our stories were not dangerous
But the Reporter is still here.
Hear the words
And see what they have seen:
Robert and Dori Maynard
Woodward and Bernstein
Margaret Bourke-White
Howard Imazeki
Gary Webb
Robert Capa
Anja Niedringhaus
Gerald Vizenor
Gwen Ifill
Joe Oyama
Gordon Parks
Hear that Music in the Skin,
Feel that Story in the Tree,
Banned by slave owners,
The Drum holds the Message,
The Pow Wow stirs in starlit nights
The Slap-Tone conviction that comes to us
The Dance cannot be silenced; listen:
Printers rumble, digital pages scroll, newspapers turn,
Borders fade into illusory walls,
Starving children, covered up documents, the ravages of war
The Voice through the centuries
Asking Questions
Even if no one cares to hear the Answers,
Accurate, objective, fast, ethical
No matter what they say,
I am deranged but I am not deranged
I am fake but I am not fake
I am afraid but I am not afraid
I am the Drum, the Tree, the Story.

Hatsu Kooh – First Poem for 2015 by Yuri Kageyama

Hatsu Kooh _ First Poem for The New Year
by Yuri Kageyama

Integrity.
Integral.
Inside.
Within.
In Itself.
Self.
What It Is.
Not NOT Not What It Is Not.
Naught.
Nothing.
Thing.
Everything.
All.
Real.

INCH-KEY (Inchiki)

Inch-key
Inch-key
Bag full of lies
Falsehood fake fraud phoniness
Inch-key
Inch-key
Boss doing side jobs on the sly
Husband hiding lipstick on his sleeve
Inch-key
Inch-key
Chinese eels that’re selling as gourmet
Long expired are Senba Kiccho
Inch-key
Inch-key
Mattaku hattari
Mechakucha illusion
Inch-key
Inch-key
Swindler president judge and lover
Poet shaman online writer
Inch-key
Inch-key
Sneezing lying plastic surgeon
Snoozing this year’s on-the-job evaluation
Inch-key
Inch-key
You believe what you got to believe
I’m mailing a letter addressed to me
Inch-key
Inch-key
Mattaku hattari
Mechakucha illusion
Inch-key
Inch-key
Eh, woo-so!

Criminals

Usually people make a point of avoiding criminals, but watching criminals up close (relatively up close, that is) is something journalists get to do as part of our jobs.
In movies, criminals are rather special, the anti-hero, or even the hero him/herself, someone to be feared, like a Mafia boss or Hannibal Lecter.
In real life, criminals are simply pathetic.
They are losers.
This was a revelation that came when I covered a murder trial in Detroit.
A man charged with murdering a researcher was asked how the murder happened, and he said _ with a straight face _ that he pushed her and she fell over backwards, hit her head on a sharp corner of furniture and died, as though it was her fault that she died.
We try to understand how a criminal mind works and we sometimes come up with elaborate explanations because we want to understand why something as horrible and tragic as serious crime happens.
This article doesn’t address crime.
But I found out rationalizing irrational behavior is called “cognitive dissonance,” and it’s not that sophisticated because monkeys and toddlers do it.
This is exactly what happens in the criminal mind.
The criminal compartmentalizes, rationalizes, justifies to come up with a weird theory, no matter how filled with laughable self-serving illogical contradictions, to explain how it was the perfectly sound and smart thing to do.
But if cognitive dissonance is about survival, the ability to move on and shrug off complex doubts about the past, then does that mean the criminal is more highly evolved than a person with a developed conscience?
Being able to live with crime isn’t a cerebral process.
It’s an animal instinct for survival, a level of existence on the basest level.
It’s not really about being human at all.