In a Manhattan church basement, my parents practice English.
Heads bent over thin workbooks, aura of old wood
and painted cement circling their crowns. He’s watching
- fluorescence flit from the new steel bands on their fingers.
Together, they utter the holy words—my name is, where is,
cream and sugar, please, thank you, when do you want it?
The old nuns are kind, though they waved little flags
- at the victory parade.
By now nobody has to explain the three-in-one god. Japan dwells
in Taiwan, the US dwells in Japan, eternally. Now they cohabitate
in the stock market. Baptism by firebombs, atomics, Gojira.
- Hallowed course of study, this Manhattan project.
My English name is…
Two labels, FROM: something something Japan, and TO: Us.
Cardboard box tightly fixed with brown tape and twine.
Just delivered, like me. Packed with Kyoto since too much
- New Jersey isn’t good for our dreams.
It spills all over the clean linoleum, gutted. Brick muscles
of yokan, strung together with nori packets. Digestive
powders and a black heart of congealed herbs
- exhaling menthol slivers and dry orange peel dust.
Four liters of shoyu is better than a blood transfusion.
Probably the only cache in this echoing suburb
dotted with an epidemic of personal space.
- Package disemboweled, my parents read decades in the entrails.
- We empty the cupboards slowly.
How to Survive a Tsunami
for Kanno Chihiro
Step into its crumbling
gray face the way
the night’s first dream,
from the back of
Incline towards the edifice,
its thousand mouths of
Pierce its neck with
the steeple of your hands.
Diary of Machine #37661
Tule Lake Internment Camp, 1945
We, the republic’s teeth
are ordered to chew this dry ocean bed
in half. Then again.
So we follow the shells,
cracked peach and rose salt fanning
the playa’s milky mirror.
Ghost water rises, falls,
fingers our umbilicals,
Loyalty to all meat and wrappings,
We oil our precious logic
so our words can hinge—
yes, fold the body into a worm,
forward all motion into dust.
Step and swing,
our bare beams weave across
the desert’s threads.
Then to step lightly, as if
the rust and heat is in all of us,
breaking from the mouth.