old man yamamoto // may 3rd 1942

Thu, 11/15/2012 - 18:03 -- ncoomes


United States
41° 58' 15.9852" N, 87° 42' 8.9352" W

old man yamamoto was deafer than forests
like someone had spun clouds in his ear drums
wrinkles spanning deeper than canyons
sometimes we wondered
if dust storms quieted their journey of fury
in the space between his skin

old man yamamoto was young
turned his back to a rising sun
crossed the pacific in a tinder box
his first steps in our country of
fill in the blanks
were uncertain steps, just born colt steps
take me home

proud owner of aspiring nickel grocery story
shelves lined with rice with hot dog buns
mr. with a mrs. in tow,
cherry oak piano in the front room
playing tinkly
learning to love you quietly
American sons
spoke in tongues
sounded like horses galloping across
the broad shoulders of desert
home run hedonist
planted cherry tree polaroids in his front yard
but one morning he woke up and
he was old

the shades of his eyes were drawn
stubborn, crusting over the sun rise
he creaked his way to the front door
where his wife and sons
bundled with belongings
if you chopped him horizontal
he would be nothing but
rings wrapped around an unraveling trunk
it was May 3rd 1942
he grew old
between barracks of dear old camp tooly lake
he grew old
checking boxes he could only make out a
the intersection of four life lines
filling out loyalty questionnaires
that felt vaguely like treading through mine fields
he grew old
forced trade of sons for inheritance-less war
fighting fanfare of
paper machie guillotines and
cattle prods
and he was old
spotting blurry poppies as red reminders of a flag
he once forsook
but he was old
so how could he have remembered?
so old
they kept shouting
step away from the fence
old man
step away from the fence
old man
step away from the fence
you deaf

after the fact
we wondered
if he was playing with fire
gambling a handful of wild flowers with the gun man
that click nesting itself
between his temporal lobe
and aorta

in Japanese
the word for forget
is to cut
from your heart

this country
keeps trying to
cut us from its heart
cancer of history

but these
korematsu scalpels are useless because
we refuse to be incised
people of the sun
we hold memories like lockets
burning reminders of
souls ferried in paper lanterns
and the new ones that will follow
and so we remember:

once there was an
old man
told love stories of this
extraordinary experience named America
kneeling to pick her a poppy
he bent too close
to the fringe of her skirt
and was burned
burned bad
but never


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