Amy Uyematsu: Three Poems



lately my eye stays
close to the ground

selecting the low, wide girth
of this ancient tree –

how long it has taken me
to finally savor

its gnarled sex,
the hard curve of roots

pushed up from the undergrowth,
past dirt and rock,

to break through the surface
as the heartroot opens –

stretching so far
from its seeded place

that the ground gives way
to the tree’s full weight –

its bared, sinuous bark
knotting to earth’s dark skin.


Viral Briefs for the Farce of July, 2020


Covid-19 reminder –
racism, our murderous viral tradition.

Peaceful crowd gassed
so a criminal can pose,
Bible in hand.

What is freedom?
To be American & black
& still not know.

Reverend Sharpton’s reminder –
400 years of America’s knee
on black necks.

Civil War aftermath –
Confederate flags, torches, white hoods
never put away.

A dangerous disease
can not stop we millions –
chanting “George Floyd”.

Meanwhile Trump’s wall –
children still locked in jails,
families denied asylum.

Kung-flu mentality
a convenient excuse to attack
our Asian Americans.

Mt. Rushmore monuments –
all four presidents’ shameful treatment
of first nations people.

Even these lies
in our “Declaration of Independence” –
“merciless Indian savages”

Yes, white “justice”
was never meant “for all” –
an empty pledge.

Gotta keep marching –
takin’ it to the streets.


LA Riots, Circa 1871


Invisible history for these
           all too visible Chinese
17 to 20 immigrants hung
           in 3 downtown locations

Wong Chin ran a store
           Ah Long made cigars
Several cooks, including
           Tong Won, also a musician

One victim discovered
           without his trousers
and his finger missing
           for its diamond ring

The mob of five hundred
           includes women and children
of the ten who stood trial
           not one sent to jail

A mass lynching forgotten
           too minor to mention
in end-of-year recaps
           no sign of these brutal facts

By 1876 the front page of the Herald
features the Anti-Coolie Club charter
a Who’s Who of prominent citizens
           membership a mere fifty cents

What are you looking for?