Three Poems by Amy Uyematsu

"Joshua Tree - Halloran Springs Road" - Photo by John Nyboer

winter garden

— rio de janeiro jardim botanico, 2009

inside this forest / the sky is invisible / as it rains all morning

so many open mouths / philodendrum and palm / bromiliad and wren

a man and woman/ once so drunk in love / find shelter here

no sound but rain / hand cupping hand / the moist green air


still spring

in season’s late rain / we travel poppy-domed hills/ pilgrims’ eyes

brimming / the chirp of sparrows and kids / playing well past dark

whose small throated sighs / a lover’s quarrel / that blue trickster

time / how real our wide shining eyes / is this the last kiss


counting out 9’s

call me superstitious :  9/9/9

Photo of Amy Uyematsu by Raul Contreras

time to take stock, turn a corner, or

party like I’ve never done before

my summer brimming with sushi menus,

blackjack tables, high school reunions,

brazilian beaches and samba drums

I return to a city on fire

and a country at war with itself

where nobody listens, nobody

cares like we did 40 years ago

flush with woodstock, the moonwalk, and me

awakening to revolution,

to my lai massacres and the black

panthers, to clamorous demands for

ethnic studies and yellow power

back then play lost out to politics

I listened to motown but quoted

marx and malcolm, angela and mao

no one in 1969 could

ever imagine 9-11

or a president named obama

I was once such a wise 21

but four decades blur and bleed between

and there’s no working compass in sight

 

Amy Uyematsu is a Los Angeles-based poet and former teacher (mathematics, creative writing, Asian American Studies).  She is Sansei (3rd-generation Japanese American).  Her published works include 30 Miles from J-Town (1992), Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain (1997), and Stone Bow Prayer (2005).  Her poetry has also been featured in various anthologies, including The Misread City: New Literary Los Angeles (2003, eds. by Scott Timberg and Dana Gioia) and Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California (2008, eds. Christopher Buckley and Gary Young).  You can read more of Uyematsu’s poetry online at the Poetry Foundation website.

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