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LISTEN TO
The war veteran
haunted by
horrors of war.
Hero or lost
soul?

HAIKU POEM
ROSALIENE BACCHUS

Leavenworth
and jungle too
brought him
back to us
brimming with hate
and disbelief
in love or
sympathy.

his johnnywalker red
eyes
tore at my words
shred my flesh
made naked my
emptiness.

my anger
for the enemy heads
of state
boiled to nothing
nothing
in the wake of his rage

jungle rot
had sucked his bones
his skin fell
like the monsoon
his brain
in a cast in Leavenworth.

In the midst
of genocide
he fell in love
in Vietnam.
“Her hair was
long and dark— like yours”
he said”
“her eyes held the
sixth moon
and when she smiled
the sky opened
and I fell through.

I would crawl
in the tall grasses
to her village
and sleep the war
away with her
like a child on my thighs
I did not know
of the raid
and woke
with her arm
still clasping mine
I could not find
the rest of her
so I buried her arm
and marked my grave.”

We sat in silence
that mocks fools
that lifts us to the final language

his breath sapped by B-52’s
his eyes blinded by the blood of children
his hands bound to bayonets
his soul buried in a shallow grave

I stood amidst
his wreckage
and wept for myself.

so where is my
political education? my
rhetoric answers to everything? my
theory in practice? My
intensification of life in art?

words
are
like
the stone
the gravemarker
over an arm
in Vietnam.


From
Out of the Dust: New & Selected
Poems
, University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014

Jungle Rot and Open Arms
For a Vietnam Veteran brother, ex-prisoner
Janice Mirikitani
THE WAR
VETERAN
JANICE MIRIKITANI,
born 1941 in
Stockton, California,
is a poet, dancer,
activist, and educator.

During World War II,
as a
sansei or third-
generation Japanese
American, she was
interned with her
parents in an
Arkansas concentra-
tion camp.

During the period
1970 to 1971, she
became the editor of
Aion, one of the
earliest Asian
American literary
publications.

In the late 1970s,
she began working
with artists and
writers to edit
AYUMI:
A Japanese American
Anthology
(1980), a
major bilingual
anthology featuring
four generations of
Japanese American
writers, poets, and
graphic artists.

Her collections of
poetry include
Awake
in the River
(1978),
Shedding Silence
(1987),
We, the
Dangerous: New and
Selected Poems

(1995), and
Love
Works
(2001).

In 2014, she
released her fifth
collection of poems,
Out of the Dust: New
and Selected Poems.

She examines the
tragedy of the
bombing of the World
Trade Center, the
U.S. war in
Afghanistan, and the
reactive racial
profiling of Muslims
and Arab Americans,
drawing connections
between the
experiences of
Japanese Americans
during World War II.

In 2000, she was
named the second
Poet Laureate of San
Francisco.

Writing was the way I could put my feelings on the page,
make them real for myself. I felt invisible growing up as a
Japanese American female in a patriarchal household, and in
a predominantly white community. An abusive stepfather
and a dysfunctional bunch of male relatives around me
caused me to want to disappear. I felt visible only as a sexual
object. Writing helped me define myself, and being able to
express rage was one source of relief, but I found poetry as
the most natural way to express all of my passions. As I
began to define myself more clearly as a poet in post
graduate schools, the issue of self definition, breaking
stereotypes, and anger about racism against people of color
and my own experience with sexual abuse — but really how
women of color in general were treated as inferior — became
a source of power and voice in my history of silence.
I believe my poetry has evolved into a wider range of
purpose and vision, as I have grown in my own recovery and
spirituality.
~ JANICE MIRIKITANI, Interview with Phati’tude Literary Magazine,
December 2012.
MONK'S MOOD
[COMPOSED BY
THELONIOUS MONK]
MIYA MASAOKA
ON THE KOTO
23-year-old Iraq war veteran from New York watches his physical therapist remove his prosthetic legs

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