Poetry from Hawk’s Well 

 

By Jerrold Asao Hiura 

Untitled 

 

first you juxtapose two images 

with a gap of silence in between 

mix in some interconnectedness 

a dash of dharma 

zen 

a sprig of chinese poetry 

beating the connection 

into fragments 

until endlessness appears 

top it with ku 

sanskrit patanjali 

yoga 

some fine wine 

get scuzzy and abandon it all 

begin again with emptiness 

and call it asian america 

poetry 

for that is all you know 

breath like shakuhachi 

within a closed system 

of 

 fertility of the soil 

the journey of the tribe 

and yes, give it form 

leave things out of the right spot 

that’s it! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jackson Street Manju Trilogy 

 

forever if 

again home 

fu Manchu 

jade snow 

miko taka 

go bao bao 

in the yellow stew 

go bao bao 

and blackjap 

go chinkchat 

fingers poppin’ 

tongues clickin’ 

like dragon dancing  

turned on 

daddy-Os 

 

hustle down 

hustle back 

cruisin’ around 

the sanjo track 

jackson street  

and the manju boys 

take no lip 

from east side poi. 

II 

asian sister 

with manchild seething 

against the studded sun 

with the bones 

of the fat land 

teeming with storms 

teach me the song 

of hands 

while dancing 

to taiko 

hard and wet 

head band puffed 

loins strained 

for it is you 

who dawns the masks of ghosts 

and the manchild 

curled dumb and waiting 

like lava 

will of your blood  

sow. 

 

as for me 

a thousand cranes 

isn’t enuf 

for poetry. 

 

but you are fundamentally 

escapist, 

 

you step out of your cloths 

and move naked in the wind 

and call me a ‘prick’ 

in the primal sense. 

 

later in your notes 

you write 

‘the tone of his eyes 

has the color of the wing’ 

and were it not for poets 

i would tear at the pages. 

 

yesterday 

old friend 

like fish 

from the depths of the calaveras 

cross the placental river 

with bento on his face 

the boat’s prow 

angled to the east 

ryoshi 

wants to be good buddhahead 

wants to fingerpop 

wants to go crusin’ 

for hot, yellow mamas 

in the fahn fields 

and never read mirikitani or inada 

and thinks chin is a part of the face. 

 

manzanar was a place 

where his ma learned ping-pong 

listened to Dorsey 

and jitterbugged 

in bobbysocks 

while america  

was being blown away 

in the pacific 

yea, i thought 

it was a sight 

to make the eyes sore 

 

afterall 

i found myself 

from what i understand 

and what i understand 

is who I am 

and what you are 

stripped of history 

unfinished 

disordered are stones in my mouth 

barbed wire about my breast 

whole forests on my back. 

 

white 

behind the yellow mask 

I sd ‘jism’ 

and howl madly  

after a print of ozeki 

for aren’t we loud 

lazy, gardeners 

houseboys 

sexually loose 

miserable 

creatures. 

 

manchild must learn  

the tricks  

of gold mountain 

that truth kills 

sometimes in the name  

of leaves you older 

homeless 

while dancing in some dark 

festival beating 

bones from the dead. 

 

listen to me then 

this is blood 

this is what i am 

your village was bombed 

your ancestors went hungry 

their skin burned off 

their children sold 

the woman entered 

and those left  

made into pack horses 

to be barbecued 

over a spit. 

 

this is historic truth. 

 

those who are America 

are circling overhead 

on mad wings 

where even the tides 

do not reach… 

 

(it’s part of 

a tradition  

of ‘purification’) 

 

to be defined  

one must struggle 

to be free 

one must over come  

become prismatic 

like a dark moon 

lurching towards 

the next day  

or live  

to be human 

believing that 

in this arena 

no man dies mad and hungry 

no man 

or precious blood. 

 

i would do anything for you 

(almost) but 

during the rebellion 

i would not know what side 

you were on 

maybe pilot 

air American 

with kilo of opium 

tiger brand by your side 

maybe just another fish head 

tasteless 

tubular mouth. 

 

manchild 

like sound of waves 

tearing off the crests 

to be defined 

will be defined 

there is no other way

III 

asian sister 

do you listen still? 

it is not just you 

but the natural order 

of the dancing 

hands waving 

beneath the akari 

shinning black hair 

with name 

onna 

shojo 

bijin 

where do you lay 

with your golden arms 

whispering? 

 

you are beauty 

there are mirrors 

crossed by silver  

which shape images 

to the shape  

of your breathing 

 

there are avalanches 

behind your eyes 

 

ika in the marrow 

of your bones 

 

dreams in the dark 

of your sleep 

 

crosslegged 

you have entered  

through a hole 

of heaven. 

 

Afterwards 

 

miles back 

in the night wake 

zen master 

chi magic 

singular 

zazen for five days 

insular 

ta louie lu 

three psychic circles 

yin yanging it 

on Jackson 

like hard eraser 

washing silk 

of ink 

spilled thoughtlessly 

taken by the hand 

led to air 

all that could not be said 

but was. 

 

 

Colmado 

 

He’d seen them come 

(weary eyes) 

all of them 

and men like this too. 

 

They were smart and white, 

shirtsleeves rolled 

up against the wall 

of entirely 

insurmountable problems. 

 

Eagerly they tore down his city  

of old things and remembered places 

and they told him to be happy  

in the new 

so kids who play and 

mothers on upper floors  

will never know the old. 

 

Slums and old men, 

father of these men 

who were 

sons of their fathers 

who said 

be happy your children 

beneath my cabin’s mark 

or sign here 

(you’ll pay later) 

take it home now. 

 

Old home buried by new homes. 

 

A cascade of bricks 

releasing impotent puffs 

of white smoke, dynamite 

for what has already fallen. 

 

Colmado, 

old man, feeble, wooden 

quality of age 

always forthcoming  

as laughter with no lungs 

behind its sounds, 

fashioned upright 

perfectly 

on two legs 

as if an extension of what was, 

beer in hand, straining  

to wake, breathe, 

slowly he turned 

and swept the smoke 

from his eyes. 

 

Suddenly 

without  passion, 

it was over. 

 

 
 
 

American Bento 

 

the glass broken/7yrs 

pieces on the floor 

missed the tatami by an inch 

Coors at that, obaachan 

in the kitchen humming peacefully 

as she kneeds the vinegared rice 

for the sushi 

and cuts precisely 

the cucumber 

which after time in a tub 

under a rock 

otsuke mono 

ochazuke and takuan 

tabemono to square with 

an empty belly 

 

sakana, yasai, shoga, 

napa soup 

egg on rice 

3 chuan of hot gohan 

downing the sashimi’and nabe yaki 

ah, obaachan 

how you fill me with strength. 

 

but yesterday 

at school 

I ate Oscar Meyer bologne 

on wheat, mayo and a slap of lettuce 

cuz that’s how 

it’s supposed to be done. 

 

Sal, Dom B., Texas Louie 

hell with that noise 

say hey 

burritos, some hot chili 

and cerveza passed round 

in a circle feeling like you were hot shit 

in town, man 

tuck and roll 

mellow tones 

slicks and synchro 

hair Depped back 

a pair of styro dice 

from the dime toss 

at the Sanjo county fair 

danglin’ off the rearview 

and just cruisin’ 

 

just cruisin’ 

 

up First 

left at San Salvador 

down Second 

left at Santa Clara 

 

just cruisin’ 

looking bad and tough 

and loused up 

 

no sweat til Texas Louis 

and Dom B 

ran up the backside of 

a telephone pole 

at 60 plus and spilled  

the guts of 10 coats 

of primo candy apple red 

twisted ’56 Chevy 

on the streets 

 

it a far cry 

from the Tokaido rd 

 

seven days later 

Dom B’s head looked 

kike kaki, dark meat 

under a shriveled powdered skin. 

 

they shoulda dug him under 

but he lived 

to want to die 

for the rest of it. 

 

at home 

obaachan wanted me  

to study meditation 

feel the koi 

and use hashi 

cuz gaijin use forks 

and they eat too fast. 

 

don’t run with Mexicans 

or Blacks my son 

be a good little Buddha boy 

lay low 

and no high clicking 

down the streets  

of j-town. 

 

and don’t forget 

to eat your bento lunch. 

 

 

 

Sticks in the Water Missouri 

 

Johnson Shutins 

where I admired rock formations 

slid down the humped shoulders  

of boulders 

on hands of moving water 

and looked at you 

with eyes 

that had just begun to see 

head thrown back 

arching arms 

lifting to the sky. 

 

Meremac to Creve Coeur 

in the spring 

Copperheads and Moccasins 

Catfishin’ with popcorn bait 

in the lifting space. 

 

Woodchuck in a chuckhole 

pushing out 

into transparent light. 

 

A league away 

the Caverns 

where the James Gang 

and Billy the Kid 

watched the comings and goings 

of the dark, brown 

leaf-eaters 

in the creekbeds. 

 

 

Where do you come from 

forest grey in the morning mist 

barn owl hooting on silent wing 

green daze of reeds? 

 
 
 
 

The Winds, The Wars 

 

 

Asian America 

passing through edgeless dreams 

& the hungry world 

whose eyes 

like steel’s silent 

thrust 

 

for mercy 

 

to those who came East 

and made their feast 

and raped 

 

in prairie darkened 

cinder burned 

 

in uprooted villages 

of carnal war 

 

in the primal arrogance of 

eunuchs heaving 

in thin, white 

expectoration 

 

leaving earth 

where not even worms live 

was left. 

 

II 

 

East 

crossing overheard 

dousing the molten heart 

in cobra-hooded manna, 

heels and thighs 

sunk deep 

in the horse’s flanks 

the Khans, 

Takuji, 

Ieyasu, 

 

Samurai 

careening into a blur 

charging 

falling forward bellowing the 

enemy  

reels north 

over hills and lakes, 

mountains 

and through it all 

did their take 

for nine hundred, 

a thousand 

nights 

(until) 

the wind  

into bamboo bending 

stillness. 

 

From a distance, 

a biwa’s  

cry. 

 

An owl shrieks 

from the ivy 

and leaves 

a ball of bone 

and hair. 

 

Darkness/pitch 

black. 

 

Air thinning out. 

 

Earth/barren 

rock. 

 

In the end 

the funeral cave of man 

will glow 

(but only) 

after the burial 

of the wands 

 

and wars. 

 

III 

 

Not inexhaustible 

the five billion earthbound. 

 

Our bones, others, 

will canopy the valleys 

like dead craters 

blanched white 

to the marrow, 

petrified stone which 

through the millenia 

become brittle, 

crumbling 

crushed to dust 

to earth 

again. 

 

Until this has happened 

blood will flow 

continent to continent, 

cannons, baptisms, 

all debauchery 

and the struggle undazed 

continues. 

 

Asian brother, Asian sister, 

 

your lungs are on fire 

your souls roar 

sweat rolls through your hearts 

your eyes 

limbs 

and you still have this desert hell 

for anger. 

 

And love 

like pollen 

to scatter in the wind. 

 

Fire River 

 

Aeiiiiiii! 

 

Fish sing in the sky. 

An Asian flings back his hood 

Maroon notes rebound 

from the vault of his soul. 

 

Aeiiiiiii! 

 

Beads of sweat twisting 

he beats his stick against the tatami, 

his thighs like a horse’s 

rapping against the earth. 

 

Aeiiiiiii! 

 

Sword cutting the stone. 

Roads meandering the stream. 

Incessantly the wind 

tolls the temple bell. 

 

Aeiiiiiii! 

 

Night like ink 

douses the stars 

Cormorants cry over the water, 

black wings over teakwood. 

 

On the Line: One Way 

 

It musta been 

the slowest train 

to New Orleans 

the night Wong 

sang kick ass songs 

and talked about 

making love 

all the way to Portland 

or was it New York/San 

Fran/long time 

gone ah giddy up 

SP/hop ho 

but doncha know 

jus missin his 

bamboo shootin mama 

talking szeyup and crazy 

sweating while 

sd he 

she was the best  

he’d ever had 

and why not. 

 

I thought, well Wong 

jus tried of 

running down white  

hakus tearing 

the yellow hoo haas 

off his very best 

preying mantis 

butt poppin 

booo-gah lu 

zippo-sifu 

saffron robe 

all the time 

like the first time 

he held 

breathed  

tasted  

sucked  

skin 

 

boom katcha 

boom katcha 

 

Ah yeh 

and me hurtin bad 

cuz baby sd 

I can’t make love 

or live without guilt 

or feel you feeling 

cuz each day 

I know less 

and less 

but the cherry bomb 

you don’t use too/ah 

shit trains. 

 

Like I’m supposed to be 

some Asian sun 

on the horizon 

(rising) 

Though the Shinto Gate. 

 

boom katcha 

boom katcha 

 

Now Wong/he 

yakkity yak 

like/flip/chink 

gook/jap 

brat all the time 

crusin criss cross 

US sing a song a 

shiao lin 

white his face 

goes glittering 

nameless 

blues/so 

cold/in 

yr system/can’t 

quit/man 

I shoulda told youWong but 

samui 

samui 

and those trains 

jus go 

brakkity brak 

brakkity brak 

 

Ah yeh 

sure musta been 

the slowest train  

to New Orleans 

cuz our sad mouths 

go nothingness 

like arrows in the air 

like chimes 

of snake’s teeth 

burning through 

all the bad rap 

of street soul ladies 

just scat/its 

jus jamming 

while Wong he 

got smaller  

and I  

frightened 

cuz it hurts/shit 

freezing rain/still 

hurts/inside torn open  

out loud 

 

I love you. 

 

Under the Zephyr 

 

Cates, 

last we saw him 

sitting lotus by the roadway 

SDS scarf long blown, 

mountain stream roaring 

in the white gulf below 

Rocky Himalaya 

Diamond lotus prajna sutra 

far below, 

his face and shiva radical hair 

in the wind, around his body 

saint like drifts 

red snow and dust. 

 

Miles slept with a different woman 

every night of the revolution 

led an insurrection in Madison 

and still got dumped by Weathermen. 

Sal did too, 

but that was in another city 

and in the end, he paid. 

Kaplan stalled the car four times 

on the road lined with corn, 

cut stubble and thawing earth, 

Kansas under the zephyr 

Sal dreamed of keef 

by the ton, as gold and heavy 

as river sand, We said; 

“Wanta see what Sal’s got?” 

 

Cates lived on a hole on the southside 

worn with Hassidic heritage 

and hot leaking steam. 

But they hadta drag him from Chicago 

and stuff’m in a Volvo 

across the almost endless winter plain, 

miles in the back seat reading Deutcher, 

Stalin in Iowa. 

In Seuss 

turns up his hearing aid 

looking for cowboys. 

 

Just Because You Eat Sashimi Doesn’t Mean you can

See like a Condor…….Neh! 

 

upriver near tuleflats 

catfishing with nak 

really a salmon or rainbow in mind 

rapping about the buddha bandits 

and how great the yanks once were 

and how good inari sushi 

is hard to find these days 

not like when the Minnesota-Missouri 

primo express was running 

no way 

nessan and auntie M 

pulling all nighters 

stuffing those little aburages 

with gobo, egg shitake 

and light red shoga 

that made you mouth spark around 

and damn if you couldn’t put a dozen away on the spot 

jus like goto did wahinis 

in old watsy days 

yea says nak 

been through a ton or two of sushi easy 

since then and a lot of 

hooks been tied and lines unsnarled 

looking for that one cherry spot 

where that big sucker waits 

for a cagey fight 

snapping the daiwalike a whip 

cutting glassine beneath the surface 

knowing all the time 

it was the napa soup 

that gave you eyes  

sharp as a condor’s 

and the feeling that peace  

was simply some ancestral spirits 

turned in a misty morning  

on a tranquil river 

catfising.

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