HAIKU FOR MY FATHER by Yuri Kageyama

HAIKU FOR MY FATHER by Yuri Kageyama

A dead man’s desk

Snacks he’s forbidden to eat

Magic tricks for grandchildren

My father died in his 70s, a big man with big ambitions, prone to cruelty and violence but just as quick with his brilliance, generosity and humor. He calmed down a bit with age. And it was natural he was far more loved by his grandchildren, who found him just hilarious, than by his daughters, who had found him oppressive. His desk upstairs had to be cleaned out after he died. My mother found bags of treats like nuts and kakinotane he was secretly eating, because his doctors had put him on a strict diet for his heat condition. She also found toy magic tricks he had also bought secretly and had been practicing to impress his grandchildren. They adored him, played games, ran around outside with him, going fishing or going on goofy rides at a tiny park. They would laugh and laugh with this old roly-poly man, who was really just one of them, never mind he was a former NASA engineer and university professor. My mother used to say my father always acted as though he couldn’t care less if his grandchildren visited or not. She wondered why he would say such an obviously untruthful thing. That was my father, too proud and too big and strong to admit to any weakness, like missing his grandchildren. There is nothing as heartbreaking as love because even love must come to an end with death. But love that can’t be expressed openly, and must be stashed away like magic tricks in the drawer of a desk. I don’t know what to call such love. But it is love.

No Tears _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

No Tears
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

We do not weep, scream, even whimper,
Too scared to speak out;
Tears seek sniffles of sympathy,
Pleas want cuddles of resolution.
Born into darkness with no escape
We stay silent.
“Mama, I’m sorry, mama,”
Is not Something we say.
We drink in all those words
Like the salty tears we do not taste;
Just wait in fear,
Filled with hatred.
And the blind groping for justice,
The secret tongue-biting vow of revenge;
We we do not ask for pity,
We do not cry.

Every Father is Violent Every Mother Overbearing Knowing That Same Pain Not Extraordinary Violent Fathers Overbearing Mothers Is Growing Up _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Every Father is Violent Every Mother Overbearing Knowing That Same Pain Not Extraordinary Violent Fathers Overbearing Mothers Is Growing Up
A poem by Yuri Kageyama

Every Father is Violent
Every Mother is Overbearing
We went through the Same Pain
We hand down that
Same Pain
As Violent Fathers
As Overbearing Mothers
The Pain is Real
Not Extraordinary
Getting Used to
That Idea
Getting Used to
That Same Pain
That’s Growing Up.

rocket scientist

rocket scientist
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

people sometimes laugh when they learn
my father was a rocket scientist
my father was also a child-beater
this is not a laughing matter
people think abusers are alcoholic degenerates,
unemployed high-school dropouts or drug addicts
who swing their wives around the room
clutching their hair and beating them
and beat the kid while at it
but my father needed to get violent because
he was under stress on his job
he worked for the Apollo program
you know the one when Armstrong the astronaut talks about
the one giant leap for mankind
he was one of the first Japanese who got to work for NASA
that’s why I have a bit of a Southern accent
when I say words like: “you all” or “Alabama” or “NASA”
his office was at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama
everyone in my school worked for the military or for NASA
we still have an autographed photo of von Braun
when we got back to Japan,
he was on TV to talk about our trip to the moon
I wasn’t that proud but my mother was proud
I was more scared about saying the wrong thing and setting him off
it was mysterious _ I never figured it out
one moment, he was joking, so witty and sharp
just like a rocket scientist
a jolly roly-poly guy
but he would change
and I would feel a fat whack against my head
it would get so infinitely dark before my eyes
inside my cavernous buzzing head
like I was swimming and spinning into outer space
and I would see tiny sparkling stars
he didn’t drink or do drugs
he was a rocket scientist
when I got older and got the nerve
I asked him why he had done that
what was he thinking?
I wanted to know
and he said he didn’t know
he helped us get to the moon but
the rocket scientist didn’t know
he couldn’t remember why he hit me at all