Tuesday, August 28, 2007
like we don't have
Because we really don't
I want the best
for you and yours
but have no way to guarantee it
by and by
Vaya con Dios
We all have a way to say it
but how can we make sense
of your death?
We're not supposed to
but God willing
one day we'll see
Go with God, Jamal
We don't have a choice
in this life
when we come and go
but God willing
I will see you again habibi
On the day I die, when I'm being carried
toward the grave, don't weep. Don't say,
He's gone! He's gone. Death has nothing
to do with going away. The sun sets and
the moon sets, but they're not gone.
Death is a coming together. The tomb
looks like a prison, but it's really
release into union. The human seed goes
down in the ground like a bucket into
the well where Joseph is. It grows and
comes up full of some unimagined beauty.
Your mouth closes here and immediately
opens with a shout of joy there.
~mevlana jelaluddin rumi - 13th century
Monday, August 27, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
This Comes First
My sister Risa Masamura was married to Scott Saunders on July 15th, 2007. To see more pictures of the big day, see http://www.risamasamura.com/wedding/download.html . To order a copy of the book of poems I wrote for the couple, go to http://www.lulu.com/content/686404
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
- Book of Blues, by Jack Kerouac: I am alternatately awestruck and stupefied. At times I find the writing brilliant and full of such clarity and true vision. At other times I am not sure what I'm supposed to be getting out of it. Sometimes I am struck by the accuracy of the unexpected metaphors and imagery, other times I am baffled. I guess that's Kerouac until reading more Kerouac hopefully trains me in how to read Kerouac. This is my first real forray into Kerouac's poetry outside of anthologized material. My favorites so far are the 27th chorus in "San Francisco Blues" (the city as muttering bum), the 38th, and the first half of the 30th chorus in the same:
Old Age is an Indian
With gray hair
And a cane
In and old coat
The rainy street
To see the pretty oranges
... (p. 31)
- White Teeth, by Zadie Smith: I was just rereading the jacket of this book to try to give you a more concise summary of it than trying to recount everything I've read so far. I'm a little annoyed that Zadie Smith was 24 when she wrote this. I guess I should be happy that she's so brilliant at 24. Anyways, this is a very compelling book so far. It does, as the jacket states, take on "the big themes-- faith, race, gender, history, and culture-- and triumphs" The stories and characters are strong. There is some jumping back in forth through time, but it's structured so that it's manageable. My only issue with it has been the voice of this omnicient narrator who isn't always there jumping in from time to time. At first it pulled me a bit out of the flow of the story, but then I started liking the humor and cynicism it brought to parts of the story that might otherwise have come off as cliche or overdramatic. I am not sure WHO this all-knowing-eye is, perhaps the writer herself, but it helps keep perspective. Current status: p. 201/448pp.
- Bushido: The Way of the Samurai, based on The Hagakure by Tsunetomo Yamamoto, edited by Justin F. Stone, original translation by Minoru Tanaka: I was first turned on to The Hagakure by watching the movie Ghost Dog, mentioned in the previous post. In this movie, Forrest Whittaker plays a modern day Samurai, and the movie is interrpted with quotes from The Hagakure, some of which I found quite intriguing. I put this one on hold a while back, but there's apparently only one copy and others had it for a while before it got to me. I'm now on page 30 of 98. Some of the words strike me as very apt and wise. Others strike me as being the ideal, but hard to achieve. Yet others are too superficial for my liking, and at tension in my mind with the more philosophical and intrinsic entries in the same book. I have greatly devoured the sections thus far on thinking and self-discipline and achievement and perception of oneself. However, the portions on not yawning, on not doing arts and crafts, on how to behave at parties strike me as less useful. I suppose how others perceive you does have an effect on an outcome you may be trying to achieve, but I hate playing a game.
- Disappearing Acts, by Terry McMillan: This is a book that is on Rhoda Mills Sommer's list of suggested reading (as was White Teeth). I have not started on it yet, so I'll quote her blurb here:
"This is one of her first three books. These were more substantive than the books that followed afterwards. She beautifully captures men who don't follow
through" ~ Rhoda Mills Sommer
Well, that's a long enough break from the reading. I want to be finished with all four by the time my Fall university classes start!
The first country to concertedly undertake compulsory sterilization programs for the purpose of eugenics was the United States. The principal targets of the American program were the mentally retarded and the mentally ill, but also targeted under many state laws were the deaf, the blind, the epileptic, and the physically deformed. Native Americans were sterilized against their will in many states, often without their knowledge, while they were in a hospital for some other reason (e.g. after giving birth). Some sterilizations also took place in prisons and other penal institutions, targeting criminality, but they were in the relative minority. In the end, over 65,000 individuals were sterilized in 33 states under state compulsory sterilization programs in the United States.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
On the smaller island of Tobago, the population is something like 98% black, and we were lumped with the only other white people on that island: tourists. In line for a beer at the weekly street party, Sunday School, in Tobago, a guy with short wide dreds sticking at angles from his head started shouting his order and reaching his money forward. I hadn’t had anything to drink since supper at 6. It was 10:30. My face always gives away my emotions, and I expressed my displeasure through the crease in my forehead.
“Hey tourist, don’t look at me like that.”
I may have given him a look, but it certainly wasn’t undeserved. “Well, I was here first and I’m thirsty,” I heard myself whine.
“Okay,” he thought out loud, “Then you order my drink.” He handed me two five dollar bills. It seemed a fair resolution.
I ordered his Carib, and passed the bottle back to him along with his dollar in change. The whites of his eyes were more the color of the red beads on his red, yellow, and green necklace. Rasta colors, taken from the Ethiopian flag. Green earth. Yellow gold. Red blood. My skin was reddened from the sun, but I was still colored white. “And you have to dance with me before you leave,” he commanded.
I wanted to tell him I wasn’t a tourist. But what could I say I was? A student? A traveling writer? What difference would he see?
Okay, so maybe the Caribbean Sea is slightly more blue than the Allegheny River ...
but it's' just as green on Herr's Island as it is in the rain forest in Tobago!!