No Choice But To Follow

Renshi Poems for January

Monday, January 14, 2008 5:42 AM

How does bamboo ridge?

Posted by Jean Toyama
Monday, January 07, 2008 12:00 AM

How does bamboo ridge?

With lots of hands, lots of head, lots of heart
And hours and days, and years—30—of time.

What did bamboo ridge?
Ninety-one issues,
Eight hundred-fifty plus writers and artists
of poems, stories, plays, and essays
with plenty, plenty of words, some pictures,
some photos
To launch careers
To help pass the time
To keep hope alive

Hang on, keep watch,
Plug along.

--Jean Toyama

Plug On

Posted by Jujube
Monday, January 14, 2008 12:00 AM

Plug On

That’s the way we do it.
In the early mornings,
far into the night.
on planes, in cafes,
during a work break.
We turn the words over,
in our heads while walking
or driving to the supermarket,
or taking the children to school;
our worlds over,
to churn out the stories,
cast our nets wide
to pull in the memories
of our heartaches,
the sorrow of our dreams,
the lost child, the collapsed lung,
the broken wing.
The fear in them.
There we meet the flowers
that bordered the house,
the cans we kicked,
the bicycles we rode,
the knees we scraped.
We greet our families,
our mothers and fathers,
and the other-dead.
Always the dead,
whose bones toll the coming
of the next life and line.

--Juliet Kono Lee

The Next Life

Posted by Ann Inoshita
Monday, January 21, 2008 12:00 AM

The Next Life

She heard prayers
and saw her husband
make sandwiches,
drive to work,
and pay bills.

She watched her child
write alphabet letters,
pick up stones on the sidewalk,
and run in their yard.

She looks out
waiting for arrivals—
a husband, a daughter.
All returning
discussing delights
and risks
after years of separation.

Here is a resting point
where spirits gather
until all go back
and are released
into the wild.

--Ann Inoshita

Into the Wild

Posted by pleopard
Monday, January 28, 2008 12:00 AM

Into the Wild

I know all your stories Maori dancer
they are mine too. How you
were born of the sky but carry fire,
the waka you ride with brother whale just below

I know what you hunt,
how bristles on the skin are boiled off
the soft flesh that will be enjoyed tonight

I also know your animal eye
wants the marking of this woman,
a distant child of Kahiki too.

Beyond my pale skin far past these
brown eyes, into the wild, you can hear it

my mother’s blood coursing through
my heart’s chambers pulsing
mo’o women, maile leaves, flashes
of dark teeth more savage than you or I

You ask, “Do you know the dance?”

Not in Maori, my love, but in Hawaiian-
kawelu, lele, ku’i, and feet turn
on the pounding of an ipuheke.
My feet have always known,
they are closest to our ancestors.
My body has no choice but to follow

--Christy Passion

No Choice But to Follow

Posted by Jean Toyama
Thursday, February 28, 2008 11:47 AM

Click here to continue on to February's "No Choice But to Follow."