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Archive for May, 2009

Farewell Mr. Miyagi

Farewell Mr. Miyagi: Uncle Al Seventeen

Somewhere over the distant horizon
I write this for you
Only you
A Hawaiian song fills my eyes with tears
Tears upon a thorny heart
Heart upon an empty throne
I write this at your service
Your graduation from this world to the next
I write this, a farewell
The only gift I can give you
A gift for all you gave
Wrapped in compassion, a bow of reflection
Gifts to those who you did not know
A thousand acts of kindness

Somewhere over the rainbow
I know you’ll be there
Somewhere among the lemon drops
You and the blue bird

I wish I could sing your song
But I would lose all control
I’d feel the pain
Not be able to face it’s merciless hand
So I sit, thoughts of all you’ve given
All you’ve left
Smiles on the faces of all you’ve met
On your endless journey
The miles of road
The led through the Gold Country and Sierra Mountains
Road paved strong with your kindness
Aloha Uncle Al
Farewell Uncle to all
Nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters
Friends and extended members of your fraternal tribe
Members of the human spirit
Of human kindness
All speak of their love
You, uncle to the world
Cool uncle, Mr. Miyagi
Wipe on, wipe my tears
Teaching life’s lesson’s one word at a time
Somewhere over the rainbow
Somewhere over distant horizons
I write this for you
Only for you
Poetry on brown paper bags
Talk speak on cocktail napkins
Written on the spot, flowing like life
Like life’s blood, in veins flowing
Flowing freely like the miles
Like Miles Davis horn on a tear
Like dizzy on a dime store record
Like free form jazz after midnight

Your Chinatown will still stand
Your causes still fought
Your seeds now sown
Within a thousand hands
Your ink now flows
In the hands of others
In your name
Farewell Mr. Miyagi
North beach calls you humble name
Jazz beat poet knows your song
Words dance like two a.m. fog
Swirling in mist of jumbled thought
From the bowels of a smokey nightclub
Your words born from ancestral truth
The din of your verbal tone
Becomes a mighty roar
A clash like oil and water
Like fire and ice
Like Yin and Yang
Both parts must join
In a syncopated rhythm of soul
Across a passive landscape
Your words erupt
In the unspoken language
The unspoken language
Of traveler’s tales
Abstract expressionist writings of a man possessed
Words that blur like speeding cars
Imagery crackling like grinding gears
Spoken tongue from clay crafted words
Molded into raw emotion
Carved into words cast in silken cocoon

The hard luck club opens old doors
Cracked and peeling on a rusted frame
Nailed together with sweat of heart
Toil of blistered hand
Song of the empty fist
Tales of late night hours
Sung by fast living ladies and renegade priests
The heart of this city weeps for you
I write this for you
Only for you
Somewhere over the rainbow

The daylight comes
After the fact
In a quiet room tea fills the air
The tea ceremony begins under watchful eyes
Magic of the tea leaves
Spells out a thousand fates
Dancing within it’s earthen cup
A story unfolds like origami wisdom
It’s words gathered like grains of rice
You harvest them on a paper bag
Your shape them into Talk Story tales
Of logic and heart
They become one with your inner child
Who shines from eyes wise and aged
Somewhere over the rainbow
Your tea ceremony is ready to start
One day old Manong
I’ll meet you there


Poem for Manong Al by Pete Yamamoto


Reading over the lines of a dead poet.
Listening to your hushed song
Your rhythms and your imagery,
Bobbing and weaving like a prize fighter.

Singing your songs from beyond the grave.
So much to teach us.
We, in our infantile state.
Your stature, so vast.

Young Asian youth so angry and defiant
He could be Filipino or Japanese or Chinese
Korean Thai Indonesian Vietnamese Burmese
Fine young sister stands beside him.

In all our strengths and weaknesses
Old men who have worked all their lives for the man.
Women who have worked all their lives for the men.
Babies who will grow strong and proud.

You bob and weave from beyond the grave.
Teaching me once again to be human and more.
Love our peoples and the strengths within.
Defy shallowness and pettiness.

Our lives take us to higher and better planes
Our feet rooted in the soil of the world’s agriculture.
Hands lined with dirt and minds wracked with fatigue.
This song of ours in collectivity.

She sings in her folk voice the song of people.
Gently lulling me with her odes.
This compliments your combative feistiness.
The basic elements of sweaty life.

Dead Poet I cannot fill your shoes.
But perhaps I can add my voice to the crowd.
For I am a new Poet too.
An old man in a busy world.

We grow old together
You the perennially young man.
I with my eyes full of the labor of mankind
We see the hands the hands of strong men

The swirling skirts of smiling women.
Even the tattoo comes alive on the brown arm.
In my retreat I wonder if I still have the love and the sensitivity
That you have bestowed upon the world

Ever in your song
Your chant
Your dirge
Your music..

I humbly ask
That I can teach what needs to be taught.
The love of the land and the world.
Mother in shawl with baby under her arm.

And you bob and weave.
Like a gentle prizefighter
Telling us all the while
To love the simplicity of our human brethren

To hear the stories of the people.
The tears and the boasts.
The fisherman and the farmer and the factory worker
From around the globe.

Particularly from our beloved Asia.
Transplanted to America
With ties to the old country.
Sometimes we are sleeping and dreaming.

I dream of Japan
In lines of the old tongue
Newly learned in this mouth of an American born
We speak every language.

You never spoke in Tagolog
But you dreamed the dreams of the carabao.
Transplanted with rythms of jazz and blues
And our lives intersected with Brotherhood and laughter for life.

We know this life and the people who make it.
Ever driving humanity to hurdle the next hurdle
To climb the next rung of the ladder
The sensitivity of the young girl turning into a young woman.

I lose myself in so many words
Remembering you and reading your memorable lines
Dead Poet
We have the world to win.

I wish I could write the story of the people
Like you sang your chants about them.
With warmth and love and understanding
Like painting a painting—a river.

You were a great muralist of the spoken word
Moving through taxi-dances and strawberry fields
How I miss your love and your eyes.
This story of life.

Peter Kenichi Yamamoto


Heaven is now a Manilatown

Heaven is now a Manilatown.
By Marlon Crump of POOR Magazine

He found it the day he came
Though I knew you a short while
The legend of your strength, courage, and love stretches farther than the Nile
Heaven is now a Manilatown
The angels, elders, dearly departed, and even the birds of the air wholeheartedly embrace you
Their arms were already open. awaiting the day that you would meet them
Heaven is now a Manilatown
The ethereal ray of light of your soul soaring through the sky can be seen by all of us………..even on the sunniest day
The might of your will to defy the evictors that enslave and oust elders, the might of your skill to bring hope to elders as the victors
Heaven is now a Manilatown
Your legacy left thousands, possibly millions to admire and acquire your inspirational courage
Heaven is now a Manilatown
I can’t or won’t say goodbye to you, just good luck and Godspeed in making……….Heaven a Manilatown

Heaven’s never hard to find