SAL/ON

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“I’m Planting Waterfalls: A Letter To America,” by Kiyoshi Sakauye

I’m Planting Waterfalls: A Letter To America

America, where have your white stars flown?
Why do the stripes on your
flag look like crossbones?
Gravestone pathways you say…
America, why do I see my own blood river bathing
In war badges run
between my fingers.

America, I’ve grown with my hand on my heart,
north arrow pointing your flag,
mark detention if I dare didn’t say
“one nation under god” but
America, where is my salute back?
America, when will we write japanese internment camps into our minds I find that
Nothing else matters except pearl harbor cause
I was taught that
my peoples only honor
was suicide.
That Hiroshima and Nagasaki were hallucinations make it a
Concentration to forget but not of
Ships hurdling so

America, when will my eyes show up in his?

America, why does the earth feel like it isn’t moving but only in homeless “sanctuaries”?

America, coat your shoulders in ice, don’t let the sun shine don’t
Think there’s time
You know.

America, when will I see diversity like
innocent eyes I once thought.
When will liberty rest in my palms never let go of me
It tastes like lemon zest freedom…
Acquired.

America, kiss every country.
Make love to oceans.
Hold hands with me once more I will ask

America, will you kiss me?

America, ask me to dance to the sound of
ink drips
Ask me to sing to the metronome of every heartbeat
Ask me to read my poetry to the audience of juries.

America, give me the contract signs to hourglass my mother’s future
Give me pencils to create word flows rather than gun shows to delve in.
Give me pride in my voice I hid in.

America, let me paint your white stars.
Your hands are earthquakes
Auto-drive me into manual.
Smell sea salt
grow mother sins of our country
sample my words into your anthem and
hold my hand like a baby’s tell me
that…

America, my words will coin flip with guarantee
Change my own hiking trail
Plant waterfalls on the way.
Home isn’t the sweetest place but
It’s all I know.
So…
maybe anger isn’t the medicine that fits my throat.
Maybe my japanese roots of Buddhist beliefs should show and grow out of my typewriter phone…
my friend.

So…
America,
Unglass your eyes
Pull your minds curtains point it east and west from me.
Listen to my syllables because
that’s my only heartbeat
listen to my line breaks because
That’s the only time I stop
Listen to me
Because, America, a mother should listen
To her child.


Kiyoshi Sakauye, SAL’s 2018/19 Youth Poet Ambassador, wrote this poem at The Center School with WITS Writer Matt Gano. Performed at SAL’s 2018/19 Poetry Series event with Alice Walker at Benaroya Hall on October 4, 2018.

Learn more about the YPL Program and Kiyoshi here.

Posted in Poetry SeriesWriters in the Schools2018/19 Season