Monday, April 8, 2013

Yom Hashoa

The Breendonk concentration camp is embraced
by a freeway and a suburb. It looks like a fairy
tale castle, but nature is a cover-up I follow
walk into the first corridor. Silence is a monster
my footsteps echo, filling it’s belly it is hungry.

The audio guide tells me that noise was a way
of life the clatter of boots, beating, beating,
beating, dogs barking. Life is a glass and
the screaming can shatter it, but now there
is silence and I can feel it on my skin
it is too loud. The click of my camera’s
shutter, shudders like a half-remembered
gun shot.

Most firing squads would miss
humanity shaking through their fingertips
and the commandants enjoyed killing
too much, taking lives with their own
fingertips. It is so quiet here.

And in the silence we forget. On Holocaust
Remembrance day my Facebook feed is more
concerned with Sloths than with Yom Hashoa.
Maybe, memory is slow and it has yet to catch
up to us, but silence eats memory.

At the Boneville damn museum, I stand
in front of blankets in glass cases, the sign
reads, gifts for the Indians. Maybe, we think
that silence is a gift to let something rest peacefully
is not a gift it is a deaf sentence.

We teach ourselves factual inaccuracies
to avoid hearing the thing that we don’t want
to ask ourselves. What would I do if I was

Fact, fear was not a factor for bystanders
most people benefitted greatly from the murder
like America benefitted from the slaughter
of the Indians, like the sugar barons benefitted
from writing a constitution without Hawaiian
recognition. People didn’t do anything
because they didn’t want to.

Fact, if the number of words in this poem
devoted to rescuers was proportional
to the number of bystanders. They would
receive one word. That word is choice

It is a choice to forget. It is a choice to walk
down that hallway. It is a choice to be a hero.
It is a choice to be a perpetrator. It is a choice

to remember.  

The earth has bandaged itself in green
and filled its arms with tears, but we
just see beauty. We cannot understand
that we are the scars.

Humanity is a scar. We are the only
evidence of every war crime. We are
the only record of every person that died
We are the silence, we are the noise.

Noise once shattered people at Breendonk
Today silence shatters them again.
When we do not remember our voice
sound like Krystallnacht, when remain
silent our footsteps smell like ash.  

Ark De Triumph

Noah's Ark is the solution
to all of our economic problems.
At least, in the state of Kentucky
where it will have 900 workers
walking two by two, floating on a flood
of forty-three million dollars
in tax breaks, because in the book
of Genesis, Gipod clearly tells
Noah, "bro... Noah... Broah,
can I call you that? Well, Broah
if you build me this ark I will 
give you some tax breaks."

So Noah built the ark, 
because hacing two of every kind
of animal is an expensive fucking
hobby that playing Pokemon
never prepared him for, and he needed

The money to support his multiple wives
and implied mistresses, which did not
destroy the family structure. Back then,

God only made it rain for forty days 
and forty nights--but in America
the flood has been happening for forty
years drowning the American worker
in mounting debt, without the olive branch
of wages. And America's workers need
an ark to save them from drowning
like the endangered species they are.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Neckties (5/30)

after Amy Everhart
There are eighty-five different ways
to tie a necktie. I tie a full Windsor,
because that's the knot my grandfather 
taught me. Most people, use a school boy
knot, because it is the easiest.

The first neckties were worn by factory
workers. They were not meant to be fashionable.
Instead, they were practical and designed
to catch food. Today, neckties are not 
considered practical.

Whenever people ask me, "what's the special occasion?"
Or, "why are you all dressed up?" I tell them, "Life!"
Because life is my special occasion. 

Sometimes, i want to ask them, "why are you so dressed down"
or "who told you that sweatpants are a good idea"

People always ask me if I'm gay
this is because people believe
that there are only two ways
to knot your heart, but hearts
are like ties, there at least
eighty five different ways 
to fall in love.

Whenever i travel i bring people back neckties
because neckties hold memories.

The blue plaid tie i wore to prom
with the girl i loved but never told

The pink paisley tie i wore in the final
round of nationals for speech and debate.

The green floral tie i wore while writing
this poem.

The first necktie you wore to work

The necktie you wore to your funeral.

The necktie you borrowed from me

Once, somebody said how do you know you're not gay
if you've never tried it.
I thought maybe this was a valid point. 

I do find some men attractive like
The philosophy major who wears neckties.
He is a handsome man.
He makes me question my sexuality.

Zac Ephron makes everyone question their sexuality.

Being gay isn't like indian food you can't just try it out
Because if you dont like indian food you can spit it out
but if you decide you don't like dudes, it's a little
more awkward to say, "bro do you think you could take
your penis out of me?"

I went on a date with a man once.
It was awkward. I wasn't attracted to him.
I just wanted to make people happy.

There are eighty five different ways to tie a necktie
most people only know one.
There have to be more than two ways to love. 

Maybe we should learn how to tie knots
to other people instead of knotting people
into categories. 

Pancakes and Neckties (6/30)

The night, split open
as Macklemore told
us that we were golden
and that night we were
windows down throwing
chunks of our vocal chords
into the night, under golden
street lights. Stomachs full
of perfect golden brown
pancakes. My necktie is
a pastors hands clasped
in prayer. My hands cup
the night. The volume knob
is a Pentecostal choir.
We are the golden arch
of the covenant. This
is the birth of a moment.
We have yet to be miscarried
by middle age, still fetal
positioned to birth ourselves.
We are pancakes in the frying
pan, turning golden. We are
the unwiped tables in a diner.
We are the speedometer
and the asphalt. We are not
the cop car. We are not the exam.
This is not a promise. This is two
people, screaming in a car
turning the volume up a little bit
each time the song repeats.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Silly Rabbit Dates Are For Kidz (4/30)

We met on the magic show
of the Internet and to prove
that she was a magician
she pulled a rabbit from
her purse. Not a stuffed
toy, but a real motherfucking
bunny rabbit, just like a Wes
Anderson movie. Her bag hopped
as she dropped sunflower seeds
and in that moment I knew Snow
White bribed all the woodland
creatures. My heart is an animal

I have never tried bribing,
only putting it in the cage of my
ribs, but somehow it always
escapes. The trick to being an escape
artist muscles and flexibility.
My heart is a muscle and it sure
is flexible. It beats my chest
like a rabbit in a bag.

“Oh no” she said. “He's eating
the bag.” Maybe he just wants to be free
to escape. He dreams of being the star
of the act rather than the prop.

I've always wondered how magicians persuade
animals to appear on command.
Do they tell them that they will be magic?

We all dream of being magic
of being the empty air suddenly opened
of being the person floating in the air
of being the illusionist, rather than the trick
of walking from the water torture cell unscathed

Truth is, I was waiting for someone
to appear out of thin air
and take my heart off my hands
wave their hand over it and make
it explode into a shower of emeralds
or silver coins. But that's not how magic works
Houdini was killed by a punch
to the stomach. And David Blaine
is left doing product placement.

When rabbits retire, do they
wake up in the purses of girls
on first dates with poets
that way their final trick
can be appearing on a page
abraca-metaphor. I thought
maybe I had magicked her to be
just like what indie movies told
me would happen. Then she did her final
trick, disappearing. There wasn't even
a hat left. Magic is the space between
hello and goodbye. Magic is a rabbit.

Magic is the ordinary date made
marvelous, by a bunny rabbit chewing
through a bag.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Origami History (or Folded Tongues) (3/30)

My last name is an origami crane
and American tongues can’t fold
into those sounds, so I’ve given
up on caring when people shred
the syllables of my name into
confetti, to celebrate ‘murica
because Yasuoka, You-sucka,
Yuh-soka, Yuh-soko
Yaki-soba, Yasuaka, Ya-so-k
It’s all the same in my melting
pot ears. And there are more
important shredders to be
worried about. My grandfather

was three years old those paper
planes flew over his birthday party
on their way to unfold battle ships
he was never in an internment camp
but he told me he remembered
visiting one. Yet, my AP US
History textbook lies, Everystate
except for Hawaii hadinternment camps
This is not true. Hawaii had internment
camps they were just crumpled up
and forgotten under the weeds of time
and all that’s left of and my textbook
folds fifty states of suffering into a single
sentence. They took people with origami
names like mine and folded them into
horse stables, surrounded by barbed
wire that metal origami. Today, we have
crumpled them up and tossed them into
the waste basket of history along with
the rest of the Japanese suffering.

I am sitting on my uncle John’s porch
and his mother tells me about growing
up in Japan during the war, she was
in high school when it looked like America
would invade the teacher led her class
into the forest, they had no lead, so they
told them to turn bamboo into spears
and that they were expected to tear
one American soldier from the history
books, before their bodies folded into
corpses. Their homes were made of rice paper
so when we firebombed Japan
Tokyo looked like a lantern.

You see, war always starts with the paper
work, paper bullets, propaganda, passports,
draft cards, lists of names. We are paperwork

Human beings are origami cranes trying
to fold ourselves a thousand times
so that our wishes can come true
but the scissors of war cut us into snowflakes

and our tongues still can’t fold themselves
into our neighbors names so they learn
to tear their syllables apart. I don’t care
when people mispronounce my name
what I do care about, is how our tongues
refuse to speak about those camps.
How the onion is the only place to cover
the anniversary and Manzanar is folded
into nature photographs. Our tongues
are scissors. Silence is a string.

My grandmother is too young to remember
the day the war started, at six month old
if I have a grandson. The silence may be too
old for him too remember.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Detergent Aisle's Hymn (2/30)

I was buried in the sand.
I had nothing but a book
of poems and Bear Grylls’
Man Versus Wild. Idug,
chipping away at the dunes
for years and when I broke
the surface, she was standing
there hanging clothes. Shaking
the sand from the folds
each shirt she hung buried
me a little deeper.

She could have warned
me about the beauty of laundry
how much she loved washing
things clean. Even now, I can
remember her detergent:
Apple Mango Tango.

The day after she told me
I never want you toleave,
while she rested her spine
against my bookshelf limbs
and we were spoons digging
at the lonely night. She asked
to borrow my laundry card
and washed never from her
hands. I am just a shirt

hanging out to dry. I am
the sand spilling from their pockets.
I am the book of poems becoming
a shovel. I am the spin cycle.

This is how she lives in a Laundromat

I spent months searching
every single coin-op for spare change
thinking I would find a quarter
of her in those tiny caverns.
The laundry always tumbles
but I am left digging sand with

I never want to live in a Laundromat
Instead, I will be the ruined shirt
on your hanger you cannot throw
away. I will be the stain in the carpet
I will learn the art of the dirt, holding
onto never and never washing
these ink stains from this page.