Dream of the Water Children: The Black Pacific

From HIROSHIMA-NAGASAKI to You…. ヒロシマ,ナガサキからのお願い

I am a product of war.

I am a product of racism and white supremacy, Japanese imperialism, and global military corporate industrial complex.  I am a product of love.

I am a product. Of people’s minds and hearts. It is not one or the other in any way. Living is complex.  But people reduce things to ONE thing or another ONE THING.

The IMPERIAL ONE.  I hope that we work to Decolonize, De-imperialize our minds.

Is this the only way people see?               Do you see?  

My mother was bombed by the Americans for nearly a year.  Charred bodies, dreams, hopes. Destruction of a cultural self imagined. Towards the American century.

My mother’s sister perished in Hiroshima.  My mother was supposed to go with her that day, but her sister went in place of her.  And then……………the mushroom, the fire.

Then……….the looking and searching.  The stench.  The orange glow sky.  The tears.  The gaping gape, a darkness.  Still here today in the minds and hearts of people who love to destroy and hate.

But until we can be smarter, stronger, more strategic, more concerned, have different worldviews, I offer a prayer.

Prayer:

I KEEP IN MIND, for myself, my mother, and all ancestors, that we seek understanding, thought, peace, connectedness returned and revisited and lived. BUT ALL THIS in CONTEXT OF THOSE WHO WRITE TO ME to tell me that THE ATOMIC BOMBS on JAPAN were NOT ENOUGH and that ALL JAPANESE should’ve been killed. I hear this from some VETS (usually white, black, or Latino), from some Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese), from some Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, White Australian and White Brits. SO WE LIVE CONNECTED to PASTS of HATRED alongside PASTS of HOPE. May we all Survive with Better Hearts, Intellects, and Strategies……….

For this Mother’s Day この母の日に

 

 

ママ、1929年  (?)  に生まれ、2011年 9月17日にあの世へ去って行きました。この母の日、日々と変わらず、ママの優しさと怒鳴り声が心を休ましてくれる。どうもありがとう。

On this Mother’s Day, Like any day, My mother’s kindness as well as her commanding words, renders my heart calm. Born in 1929(?), and passing to the other world on September 17, 2011.  Thank you Mama.

In honor this year, I repeat my poem for her, that was featured in the Generation Nexus: Peace in the Postwar Era exhibit at the Presidio in San Francisco from November 2013 to April 2014: http://njahs.org/640/portfolio/generation-nexus-peace-in-the-post-war-era/, and published first, in Kartika Review, Spring Issue 2012: https://issuu.com/kartikareview/docs/kartika_issue12, and in Inquiring Mind – Issue on War & Peace Poetry: http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/WarPeacePoems.html.

 

                   For Kiyoko, Epitaph/Chikai *

Mama’s silent hand in mine         we remember traverse

history’s ten million wars.

Her Last breath            passes through me

survival’s constant fire.

I, her             Occupier’s baby

tremble in        black    yellow       through tombs

        ancient colors

falling

bombs          Mama          persimmon blossoms.

Time after time            Kiyoko becomes

sword

           desire

         wounds

   rain.

 

* Chikai: Vow, promise (in Japanese language). Without Kanji characters and written in hiragana or katakana, this can have the meanings near, close as well as basement or cellar. So ‘Chikai’ means: a promise, a vow, near, closeness, the cellar (which connotes things put below and kept as momentos, memories, the forgotten, the forsaken). Historical and personal continuities, relics, secrets, baggage, intimacy, preciousness.

 

Harbors

December 7th.  In any year, in the United States, it is memorialized.

Just what is memorialized?

Memory. . . . . . What is it? Memory of What?  For what?

pearl-harbor-mem-dayOf course.  We mourn. the loss.

Veterans of the U.S. military who were alive at the time, who experienced it, must remember it, perhaps simply to honor their friends and fellow military friends who perished, or whose lives were maimed.—But . . . . . . .

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Map of an Onion: Kenji Liu’s exquisite cultural-political, intimate Poetry

map-of-an-onion-cover

Kenji Chienshu Liu‘s latest book of poetry:  Map of an Onion, (published by Inlandia Institute 2016), a recent winner of the U.S. national Hillary Gravendyk Prize,  is an exquisite blend of intimacy, heart, colonial history’s effects, war, displacements and identity. Grief, loss, and rage are not locked into rational categories displaced in a western psychological malaise, but are instead interwoven and particularized in textures of belonging, memory and uncovering, through the vast emptiness of fullness-in-difference, of history and intimately personal worlds, evoked between words and from words.

I highly recommend this for anyone who loves poetry in contexts of understanding and owning the multiple histories through which our personal lives are woven; intricately with others, of the present and times past, and the future.

Vimeo Visual Poems accompanying the Book, at Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/album/3840355 

Leah Silvieus‘s review of Kenji’s book at Hyphen Magazine: http://hyphenmagazine.com/blog/2016/03/“i’ll-look-behind-you-you-arrive”-kenji-c-liu’s-map-onion

 

 

GENERATION NEXUS – Reflections

 

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The Generation Nexus: Peace in the Post War Era event is ongoing through spring of 2014.  The facilities are beautiful.  Approaching the building, the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field, and the waters can be seen, amidst the beautiful hills that are a huge part of the Presidio area in which the Building 640 has been built.

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Poem by San Francisco-based Blasian Hapa Poet Sabrena Taylor: Hair 2

Kathy Usami, daughter of unknown African American GI., with mother in Japan. Circa 1969. Photo by Colonel Rentmeester. Courtesy of Life.com

San Francisco Bay Area poet Sabrena Taylor, is of African-American, Japanese cultural background, with Native American roots as well.  Her poems traverse historical, political, mythological memory, addressing longing, social justice and healing:

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