Skip to content →




generation. Have-faith-even-


will-bloom-something generation.


only cactus. But even:

cut away spike. Slice.

Water to quench our raging.

Body made for long

day, hard work. 仕方が

ない. If a barrack

we are living, we must bend

our minds to a pot full of rice,

river full of flashing fish.


What happened to our

tongue, generation? The-nail-


generation. We

go when army says go.

Take only what we carry.

Shame, the heaviest

suitcase. To lift our feet, tack

shame up between door-

ways, lacquer over

eyes, feed shame with cream of wheat

to the babies. Then, paste

silence over rage.



generation. Yellow-peril


generation. Why-aren’t-we-


generation. Harvesting

the hard knots: radish

or rage, no matter, dirt still

clings to the roots. We

yell into shame, raise our fists.

We build monuments

in the desert, rescue scraps

of culture, shake out

creases from musty kimono.

Later some open

our fists, wanting-more generation.


When the floodwaters receded, there we were, you-get-what-you-asked-for generation,

trying to find the pieces as best we could. But everything was slightly askew. Roofs

settling into odd angles, bicycle tires on hatchback rims, cherries smelling like oranges.

Even our faces didn’t match. One brown eye, one black. Hands too big, tongues looping

out of our split mouths. We named it beautiful, this broken world we inherited.

And we hammered each

piece somewhere new, sowing

a field full of nails.

from Last DaysFind more by Tamiko Beyer at the library

Copyright © 2021 Tamiko Beyer
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Poems Tamiko Beyer

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.