Journalism In Verse

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Vanquished

in Identity by
[A found poem from Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic on Japanese American internment]

Houses are boarded up.
Their newspapers and mail
litter sagging porches.
Abandoned cars sit in driveways.
Weeds sprout where tulips wilt,
laundry clinging to lines.
Telephones ring and ring.

     Perhaps they were sent to work sugar beet country,
     or marched single file across long wooden bridges
     to faraway cities, or sailed oceans zigzagging torpedoes,
     or crowded into windowless cattle cars to the camps.

Lights are left on.
Stray cats wander left in distress.
A listless canary sits in a front window,
koi dying in a pond. Everywhere
dogs whimper in sleep dreaming them.

     And by the first frost letters cease to arrive,
     their faces blur, their names elude memory.
     And they no longer linger in thoughts
     and we know that we shall not
     meet them again in this world.

 


Read More:
Why Does Team Trump Keep Talking About Japanese Internment Camps? [New Republic]
George Takai on 75th Anniversary of Internment of Japanese Americans & Why Trump is “The Real Terrorist” [Democracy Now]
A chilling moment to mark the 75th anniversary of the executive order that led to Japanese American internment [Los Angeles Times]

Andrena Zawinski is an award-winning educator and writer with three full collections of poetry and four chapbooks. She is Features Editor at Poetry Magazine and Founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon. “Vanquished” will also appear in her collection Landings due out in June 2017.

Image is a cemetery monument at the Manzanar National Historic Site, located at one of the ten Japanese American internment camps. Photo is by  jvoves on Flickr.

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