A Crow’s Request _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Crows by Hokusai

A Crow’s Request
_ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

We get a bum rap.
An utterly horrendous,
Misrepresentative rep;
They adore the others,
The herons, wagtails and ducks,
Even cooing pigeons
Calling them doves,
Symbols of peace,
But us _ we’re evil
Laden with germs
They’re setting traps
To kill us
To exterminate us
Though we’ve lived in the park
Longer than them
Minding our business
Raising our children
No different from anyone else

You have your nest
Of glass and steel
We have our nest
Up in the trees
Though unlike you,
We’re virtuous
We mate for life:
Why you see us flying
In twosomes
Crooked hearts in the sky
We bathe in mere puddles of water
We eat what we find
In the streets, on the ground;
True, we don’t chirp or twitter
And instead make scary
Cawing noises
We’re just communicating.
No different from anyone else.

We’re depicted scrounging garbage
Hanging out with witches
That’s just a stereotype
Concocted by a hostile media;
When we flock in the hundreds
Swarming in a dark cloud
Perch like a thousand commas
We evoke Hitchcock’s “Birds;”
But we inspired Hokusai, “Heckle and Jeckle,”
And the Japanese soccer team;
There’s a song about us crying:
“Kawaiiii, kawaiiii …”
Van Gogh drew us flapping in a field
Like a deathly holy ghost;
We collect shiny things
Like glass and buttons
Bringing them to children
To make them smile.

My Poetry in Pirene’s Fountain

My two poems “Haiku for Van Gogh” and “how to say ‘yes’ in Japanese” (coincidentally read in Tokyo recently) are published in Pirene’s Fountain.
The bio and poetry from inside the pages of the latest issue:
Yuri Kageyama is a poet and writer of bilingual and bicultural upbringing, born in Japan and growing up in Maryland, Tokyo and Alabama. She has two books, “The New and Selected Yuri: Writing From Peeling Till Now” (Ishmael Reed Publishing Co.) and “Peeling” (I. Reed Books). Her works appear in many literary anthologies and magazines, including “Y’Bird,” “Greenfield Review,” “San Francisco Stories,” “On a Bed of Rice,” “Breaking Silence: an Anthology of Asian American Poets,” “POW WOW: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience _ Short Fiction from Then to Now,” “Other Side River,” “Beyond Rice,” “Yellow Silk,” “Stories We Hold Secret,” “KONCH” and “MultiAmerica.” She has read with Ishmael Reed, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Eric Kamau Gravatt, Geraldine Kudaka, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Winchester Nii Tete, Seamus Heaney, Takenari Shibata, Shozu Ben and many other artists. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Cornell University and holds an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. She is working on an oral history of Tokyo taiko drumming group Amanojaku, where her son Isaku Kageyama is a principal drummer. yurikageyama.com

Haiku for Van Gogh | ways of saying ‘yes’ in Japanese

Haiku for Van Gogh

An old wooden desk
Yellow dots of light shrieking
Van Gogh’s room

Warped plums dagger rain
Crazed geisha dance in ukiyoe oil
Breathe Van Gogh’s Japan

Sliced ear of love denied
Road to nothing ravens in flight
Genius of yellow

ways of saying ‘yes’ in Japanese

That’s the correct way of replying when spoken to in Japan for centuries, hai! the way people are taught in school, by their parents, what’s right in society _
respect for the hierarchy, yes sir, thank you ma’am, hai hai hai, like hiccups, like hiphiphurray, hai! hai! hai! no pause, no hesitation, no thought,
following orders, quick, no questions, grunt it out, soldiers at attention, yelling, spitting, believing, say it with all your heart and mind,

That’s the way people answer in Japan these says, haa~aai! the way people drop out of school, freeters, parents are just friends to follow only on Twitter _
flattening out the hierarchy, maybe yes, maybe not, haa~aai! like a mumble, like a whisper, a kiss on the ear, haa~aai, innocent, hurt only for others,
wind blowing in your hair, smiley faces heart icons in cell phones, improvise, imagine, immaculate, sing it without a care in the world,

Orsay in Tokyo and Haiku

An old wooden desk
Yellow dots of light, shrieking
Filling Van Gogh’s room

Artwork by Van Gogh is among the pieces from Orsay on display now at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum. I am struck by how the painting is filled with happiness. We are so used to the image of Van Gogh as a tormented lonely ear-shaving painter. Another painting that stood out is Auguste Renoir’s portrait of Claude Monet. There is so much respect and love in that painting. Besides the works, and the artists’ lives behind the works, we also see the relationships among the artists.