1. Lineage Healing

AT THE LIMIT OF LIGHT

to DRB 9/6/17

Was it the slow dimming of the portals

through which the white sharp beauty first

cut through the dream, exhaling?

Were you riding the hard rim of light

to corner and back, where the boys

played rough but eventually took you in?

Or did you just want to be lovely in your moment,

having seen through the screams, and, the moment

having passed, the recognition of its passing?

Or was it one too much a thing to be asked

by the one who asks, to let down your shield and be

an object of mercy, which you never believed in,

but deciding, like any dandelion that has

bolted through when shadows have draped the alley,

that who you really are is one who wraps up his petals

willing to see if there comes

a softer rebirth in any

other morning.

SEED FARM ROAD

.

Went to Sacaton, Arizona,

after applying to the tribe for permission

to visit the land, my daughter and I;

met our guide at the Chevron station,

followed him down dirt roads to the raw scrub

to see what’s left of Gila River Camp,

at one time a town of 13,000 men, women and

children linked in common ancestry – Japan –

who scratched out a life a few years back in WWII.

We climbed up the butte.  He pointed out

where the old baseball diamond was laid out,

built by internees – prisoners –

who challenged the state all-star team that

came out to the reservation to play ball.

Wide-eyed, the visitors lost, 11-10 in the 10th

to Zenimura, Furukawa, Shimasaki, and others

who loved the game.

He showed us the concrete remains

of a koi pond that went under a barrack

so the fish could survive, told us how

the shade of the dirt under the shacks

was the coolest place, how the young men

hung out there and gambled and swore.  He showed us

the ironwood tree, favored wood for

carving that my grandfather practiced –

I showed him the bole made smooth by grandpa’s hands.

In gratitude for taking care of my ancestors

I offered tobacco to the spirit of the land

and the four directions, which are endless here.

Before they left they set a circle of concrete columns

and a few words up on the butte, to mark their passage.

I sat there and did mantras and dagger for lineage healing

while Chloe read aloud Dad’s recollections,

what he did coming up, then the camp, then

the Army.  We did the same ritual for Mom

at Poston Camp a few hundred miles westward,

another desert farm town of 18,000

built quickly and without asking on native American land.

These broken places are like our Stonehenge,

from which we emerged naked into America

.

8/31/16 Altadena

.

.

THE JAPANESE CEMETERY AT ROHWER, ARKANSAS

.

They blew through here like a spirit wind.

The only artifacts their bones, most of them farmers

here from feudal Nippon, before the machines

took over:  the old ones from Hiroshima or Kyushu

or Yamanashi, hoping to return with fortunes of respect,

cruelly deceived by agents of money.  Sprinkled in

among the remains of the first arrivals are the babies

and the sickly of the American-born.

These farmers will never return to the old country,

where everyone had a place in society.

How confused they must have been to find themselves

after surviving the crossing and the cane fields,

in this bottomland a stone’s throw from

the Mississippi, in Arkansas where no one escapes

his master, in a prison of mud,

the constant sticky mud in summer, the frozen hard

in winter mud, the impossible to keep out

of barracks mud, surrounded by swamp so unlike

rocky volcanic oceanic Japan, the mythic home.

Even here, in April

when trees and bushes glow among spider webs

in the quagmire of spring

you can find signs of compassion.

.

2/20/16, Altadena

.

.

LIGHTNESS

.

People of my lineage would arrange a branch

flowering in a breath of sun to inspire

a vision, of which we are an aspect, the animal part.

How long does the vision last?

The flowers may last a few days and drop –

the beauty of rough existence –

the continents drift as mountains rise and erode,

I hope to squeeze a few good years from this body.

When I went to church I heard my body will be reconstituted,

physically, in heaven, eternally and perfectly.

I suppose it’s possible,

to be reunited with life and bodies and families,

though some may not wish for it.

Think of the deep shock to all the earth practitioners

and dharma travelers

who spent their earthly moments

simply being aware of the warmth of the winter

sun as they paused in the field,

thinking each moment was the gift of this incarnation.

Only to find themselves back in their bodies.

I like to imagine some of them would petition God

to give up their perfect heavenly bodies and return

to the realm of suffering and change, just to once again feel

the joy of the sun-blossom rising

from under the heaviness of being.

.

Pasadena, 1/12/16

.

.

THE LABYRINTH AT EARTHRISE

.

I came to it needing healing from a rupture of family,

nothing exceptional except it was mine.

Round like a flat earth, when you walk circuit

you find only the one entrance.  You could cheat and enter

in media res, like any good story, but the intended walk

is stranger than fiction.  Soon after entering the design takes you

to almost center, then twists you back nearly out the wormhole

you entered from, back and forth till dizziness takes over,

signifying a time of many changes.  Long stretches

give the impression of normal life, say, a job

and a marriage and raising kids, but at each turn

you must look back at where you’ve trod.  After 20

minutes you’re in the center where offerings are made.

You can leave anything you wish.  I left a scrap of paper

with OZ printed on it and wrote a bit

of Hebrew, Le Alem Vayed, a prayer.  Also offered tobacco

to the 4 directions and the spirits.

.

On the return journey, having crossed a

section of dry hard desert earth,

you’re just watching your feet step step step and

“bam” you’re out the wormhole.  I took that to mean

you’re dead.  It’s a shock, to leave the game that suddenly,

but nothing prepares you for the walking away,

as you realize you’re outside the boundary of life, your life,

as you just walked it.  You’re not even in the galaxy,

you’re outside the dimension of time.

I notice the fog has shaded the oaks.

.

3/4/16 Petaluma

.

.

DECEMBER 7

I always hated this day when I was a kid.

At school I felt everyone’s eyes on me,

as though I had just sneak attacked and bombed

Longfellow Elementary and all its children

and battleships.  I remember the Jewish kids –

there were maybe a dozen in the school –

got to put on a program about being Jewish so

everyone could understand they’re regular Americans

even if they don’t get Christmas presents.

No such program about being born here,

not speaking Japanese beyond naming my favorite foods,

wanting to fight in the US Army against the Japs.

But how could I do that … I was one of them.

In the 50s it was no picnic being Japanese where I was.

We still had lots of war pictures about the enemy.

Neighborhood kids picked fights.

Families had lost sons.

I wanted to get far away.

I found on the east coast I was a curiosity.

The social restraints were restrained but deeply embedded.

Plus I was hungry for Japanese food and Mexican food.

So I’m back in the 5th grade, hoping I could just skip over

the feelings of August 6, the day of the Hiroshima bomb.

Yeah, I know, they’re the enemy.

I’ve heard all the arguments.

Something about that day is not right to a 5th grader,

like December 7.

.

December 7, 2016

.

.