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Tag: Tamiko Beyer

Generations

Issei

Plant-a-stone

generation. Have-faith-even-

the-sandiest-soil-

will-bloom-something generation.

そうね,今

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.

Nissei

What happened to our

tongue, generation? The-nail-

that-sticks-up-gets-pounded-down

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.

Sansei

Power-to-the-people

generation. Yellow-peril

supports-Black-power

generation. Why-aren’t-we-

talking-about-this

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.

Yonsei

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.

What the Grandmothers Say

we broke bottles electrified the abandoned

macadam with our rag-bone labor

smudgy fireflies in the humid night gathering a hundredfold

now you limn the apple seeds

spit polish your steeled tongue

you gnaw gnaw down your scattered hunger, child,

bank in lusty angles

while your hatchlings in their clotted nests uncoil wet from shell

beak a widening raw

all our rage unslaked—

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.

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.