Nothing happens なにもおこらない _ a poem/song by Yuri Kageyama

I started working on this song in February 2019. It’s about how people like to talk about “what’s happening” or what’s going to happen. Most of the time, nothing happens. Nothing needs to happen. Now with the pandemic unfolding, the song is more pertinent than ever. I reworked the song to reflect that. And in June 2020, I added the rap section in Japanese that refers to the death of George Floyd. We must not forget how precious those moments are when horrible things that can happen don’t happen, and we can just sit back and enjoy the passage of time, when utterly nothing happens.

Still a work in progress but the audio:

Yuri Kageyama · NOTHING HAPPENS a poem/song by Yuri Kageyama with guitar/arrangement by Hide Asada

Nothing happens なにもおこらない

_ a poem/song by Yuri Kageyama

(1)

Nothing happens

Bombs no longer falling

Nations aren’t killing

Nothing happens

^___<

(2)

Nothing happens

Women aren’t screaming

Children aren’t starving

Nothing happens

^___<

(BRIDGE)

なにもおこらない

このきもち

なにもおこらない

しずけさ

^___<

(4)

Nothing happens

The stars will shine  

Behind clouds that hide   

Nothing happens    

^___<

(5)

Nothing happens

Birds, blossoms remind

The passing of time

Nothing happens

^___<

(rap section)

Nothing happens

We took it for granted

Nothing is boring

Nobody up to no good  

Looking for something

Something to happen

Before the coronavirus   

Now we wake up to numbers

Pray the curb gets flattened  

Pray it’s no one we know

Waiting for a vaccine

Scared by the sirens

Italy, New York, Spain, Wuhan, Tokyo

Now nothing else happens

Nothing else can happen

Now you know it:

Now you wish you didn’t wish it

Now you know for sure you like it

When Nothing happens

Yeah, Nothing happens

なにもおこらない

死ぬまえ

のこる生命で

えらんだ言葉

息ができない

彼のおもい

アメリカの差別

歴史のおもい

すべてすごくて

言葉がない

息ができない

息ができない

You know that’s the view:

No news is good news,

It’s so quiet you can hear it

Silence is the music

When NOTHING HAPPENS

^___<

Nothing happens

The Virus descends     

Like a stranger of death     

Nothing happens

^___<

Nothing happens

We can forget the rest  

How we miss those days   

When Nothing happens

TOSHINORI KONDO a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Toshinori Kondo

A Poem by Yuri Kageyama

shrieks growls wails moaning jagged cries wire and metal half machine untamed animal bleeding real blood never stops a never-ending pulse guerilla warfare of free music of onomatopoeia like a snake or a frog whose skin is always wet

Life suddenly _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama May 9, 2020

Music by Lorian Belanger inspired May 15, 2020 by “Life Suddenly,” a poem by Yuri Kageyama written May 9, 2020.

life suddenly seems so bare,

absent of distractions and noise,

honed down to essentials:

food, water,

the daily dosage of exercise,

sleep, working from home,

buying online,

safety from disease.

you realize life

is still,

alone,

full of meaning that is

so fragile

and easily lost.

MY TWO FILMS OFFICIAL SELECTIONS AT TOKYO LIFT-OFF FILM FESTIVAL

The Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival has selected not just one but two of my films for the event in June 2020 _ NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA and THE VERY SPECIAL DAY.

Thanks to the organizers for believing in my vision. And thanks to all the artists who put up with me and worked on the films. We are all so looking forward to taking part in the event.

Both films are screening (online as the event has moved because of the coronavirus outbreak) MON June 22 ~ SUN June 28, 2020.

THE VERY SPECIAL DAY is showcased in the “Newcomers Short” section for Short Films, while NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA is in the “Trendsetters” section for Feature Documentaries at the Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival.

I AM THE VIRUS _ a poem in homage of Ishmael Reed By Yuri Kageyama

artwork by Munenori Tamagawa


I AM THE VIRUS _ a poem in homage of Ishmael Reed

By Yuri Kageyama

(Written SUN March 22, 2020 as the world fights the pandemic over the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and I continue to be aghast at the utter lack of integrity among the supposedly best of us, the ignorance, selfishness, ugliness. )

I am the virus

I thrive on mossy envious egos

They keep showing up

Offices, clubs, picnics,

Choosing being seen, hoarding

Over social dis-tan-cing

I am the virus

I fester in corona-shaped clusters

Commuter trains, cruises, crowds  

Peering at the Olympic torch,

I love the naming “Chinese virus”

The taunts, attacks on slant-eyed people

I am the virus

I cower when folks stay in

Takeout food, work from home,

A meter apart on solitary walks,

Wearing masks, washing hands,

Mixing aloe and alcohol

I am the virus

The crazy evil devoured

By doctors, vaccines, canceled concerts

Turning into live-streamed music,

People who remember to tell those they love

How much they really love them

RANDOM RENEGADE RENGA by TAYLOR MIGNON and YURI KAGEYAMA

Taylor Mignon _ photo by Joe Zanghi

RANDOM RENEGADE RENGA   

Written by Taylor Mignon and Yuri Kageyama

In Tokyo Spring 2020 as the World trembles in face of the Pandemic but Poets believe in the Power of the Word   

Santana muzak Oye Como Va

Make us yearn for Devo lounge

Digging Mi Ritmo in our Minyo village

Enya to tto Enya to tto Tito Puente

 —

 On the black sugar cane field a hurricane

 saved by voices: Ne Nezu & Yuricane

 —

 He came to her room, said little then went on

 To kill himself; jisatsu nante zurui (自殺なんてズルイ) So selfish so selfish

 —

彼は誰?何と言うてました?なんで自殺したんだろう。「質問祭り」

 —

The Poet with The Questions

 Taylor Mignon Taylor Mignon? Taylor Mignon!

Kageyama encapsulates tortoise mountain, Turtle Island & Yaponesia cornucopia

 —

Taylor is Razor Music entwined, David Bowie James Brown

Red Hot Chili Peppers George Clinton the Parliament-Funkadelic

Peter Tosh dangerous, yes to DB, P-Funk, JB —pass on Chili—am more Epic

Epic Poet Taylor screaming Eternal Tokyo  

Ephemeral this world this thought this poem

My Name Is Rio skips in this stuck lift, Duran Duran sand dance

The scream of poetry that pierces Tokyo

Hear him scream

(notes for Taylor reading: screams loud and long)

The funkqueen of poesie that grooves Tokyo

(Hear her riff, adlib or skat)

From funk fusion to depa-chika to Icarus galaxy to Joni Mitchell and back,

Taylor and Yuri are done but only for now    

AN UNDENIABLE FACT A haiku by Yuri Kageyama March 8, 2020 8:55 a.m.

AN UNDENIABLE FACT

A haiku by Yuri Kageyama

March 8, 2020 8:55 a.m.

Some

Writing

has no

Soul

No Voice (No Story being told)

It

Comes

from

Within

SOME PEOPLE a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa

SOME PEOPLE a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Some people are Poison
In sheer Presence
Even from afar
Some people are Garbage
A stench of Gibberish
Even from afar
Some people are Ineffectual
A blob hanger-on
Even from afar
Some people are Broken
A Godzillion pieces
Never whole again
Some people are Forgotten
Hidden unbleedingly silent
Into the flesh of scars
Some people are Music
Wafting healing savory sweet
Even from afar

A story shared from prison by Yuri Kageyama

I met the former inmate behind this story a few years ago, in 2016, when I was putting together my story “The Very Special Day” with artwork by Munenori Tamagawa. I was thinking of just stapling together printouts, but the visual artist had other ideas. He wanted a real book, and he said he knew someone who knew how to design books, a skill, as it turned out, he had learned in a Japanese prison. I didn’t ask questions. I just assumed he had committed a serious crime because of the long time he had been incarcerated, but felt he deserved to be treated no different from anyone else as he had served his time. I did not even know until he told me his story that he was asserting his innocence. This is his story:

He spent 15 years behind bars for a murder he confessed to, but he says he didn’t commit. His father hanged himself in shame. While in prison, he bit off a piece of his arm in a suicide attempt. Placed on half a dozen tranquilizer pills, he was an addict by the time he finally got out, four years ago.

Fengshui Iwazaki, who has changed his name to protect himself from the social backlash, is still trying to adjust to being back in the real world.  

“Fifteen years _ that’s a whole generation in a lifetime,” he says, his eyes clear, child-like, much younger than his 41 years. 

His story underlines the treatment convicts get in Japan, a society that’s so insular and crime-free most people don’t know much about what it’s like to live the life of a criminal. The arrest of Nissan’s former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, charged with financial misconduct, is helping bring international scrutiny to this legal system, which human rights groups have long criticized as harsh and unfair.

Iwazaki had never before spoken to me about his experiences, how two decades ago, he had made headlines as a murderer.   

“It was as though I was a monster,” Iwazaki recalled.          

^____<

Iwazaki and others who went through Japan’s criminal system say prosecutors and police come up with a story-line for a confession. While interrogated, Iwazaki was taken to the mountains where the body had been found and directed to point in the right spots, he said.

His girlfriend had been strangled to death, and he instantly emerged the prime suspect.

He resisted at first but signed the confession after three weeks of being interrogated daily without a lawyer present, standard practice in Japan.

He says he was bullied, his hair pulled, the table banged. After a while, it was easy to cave in.  

He believes the real murderer might be the man who had adopted his then-3-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. He had planned to live near her someday, not ever telling her he was the father, just to be close to her. She died in a car accident while he was serving time. 

Prosecutors say they are merely doing their jobs and didn’t create the system.

Defense lawyers say suspects sign false confessions and don’t realize it’s too late to assert innocence later in a trial.

That’s why it is called “hostage justice.”

Judges tend to believe the prosecutors’ story line: the conviction rate in Japan is higher than 99%.

Going against such a powerful trend takes tremendous courage. Unlike the U.S., prosecutors can appeal, meaning innocent verdicts can get overturned in a higher court.

^___<

The life of imprisonment Iwazaki describes is austere, isolated and regulated. Each prisoner gets a tiny cell with a toilet and bedding, unless the prison gets crowded and cells get shared, a condition that’s increasingly rare.

Communication among inmates is limited to the 30 minutes of outdoor exercise, or the evening hours, during which TV is allowed.

Whenever inmates are transported, they wait in enclosed booths lined next to each other so prisoners won’t mingle, called “bikkuri-bako,” or “jack-in-the-box.”   

Every morning, the convict changes into green prison garb and gets marched to a factory within the prison grounds.

Iwazaki did menial work like placing wooden chopsticks into paper wrapping and packing them in boxes. He also learned how to work the printing presses.

The toughest time was his three-year solitary confinement doled out as punishment for being a troublemaker, he said.

One time, out of frustration, he smashed a window with his bare hand, which added half a year to his sentence.

He was always curious about why others were locked up.

One inmate, he learned, had tried to steal money from an ATM to send his son to college. When a guard found him, he used a stun gun. The guard had a weak heart and died. And so the charge became murder while committing grand larceny, a serious offense.

“There are no really bad people in prison,” Iwazaki says with a conviction that is startling.  

^____<   

There is little in Japanese society that helps people adjust to life after incarceration.

When Iwazaki was released, he only had 1,000 yen ($9). He checked into a hospital, pleading insanity. He was running out of the pills prescribed at the prison.

He finally made it to Eizo Yamagiwa, a filmmaker who has devoted his life to supporting prisoners. Yamagiwa, who had visited Iwazaki in prison, gave him money, and Iwazaki finally made it home to his mom.

Yamagiwa says only the authorities’ side of the story gets relayed in Japan, influencing judges and juries so that trials tend to merely work as rubber-stamps for the prosecutors.

The prison system, he said, is so devastating most people come out sick and unable to continue with their lives.

He said Iwazaki was an exception in working hard to live a normal life.

^___<          

Iwazaki, who had originally planned to become a schoolteacher, has had his life forever changed.

Retrials to try to overturn guilty verdicts are rarely granted in Japan. Usually, totally new evidence such as a DNA test is needed.

Iwazaki is hesitant even to try. His case is tough because of the mounds of evidence submitted during his trial, including his confession. His mother has asked he doesn’t pursue a retrial; she doesn’t want to think about any of it ever again.

Iwazaki lives alone in a stark room with a tiny drab kitchen and a bathroom. A desk and two chairs are the only furniture.

On the walls are two drawings signed Masahiro, a man who died on death row. Done meticulously and entirely by pen and pencils, one depicts a bouquet of red roses, the other, Mary and baby Jesus. No one except for Iwazaki had claimed them.

Iwazaki also drew pictures while in prison: A big close-up of his open mouth filled with pills, a bird’s eye view of his cell, an inmate working so hard in the factory he is turning into a blur.

The drawings were part of a show of “art by outsiders” in April 2019, in Tokyo, a milestone for Iwazaki. While in prison, authorities had forbidden such exhibits.

Iwazaki is also in a training program to counsel addicts. He already works as a counselor, having studied various therapy methods, which he says helps calm him. Completing the training means better pay.   

He has also found a girlfriend, a carefree woman who works at a dot.com and is passionate about saving lions in Africa. They plan to get married and maybe have children.


.

Graves for the Living _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

GRAVES FOR THE LIVING _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Graves aren’t for

Those Buried only

They’re for those

Who’re still Alive _

They don’t Speak Back,

They don’t expect Much,

Ready to be Forgotten

If not already Forgotten;

So Go There,

To the Graves,

While You Live,

To Be Forgiven:

Graves Are

Gifts From the Dead

For the Living.