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Nikkei al descubierto: una columna de poesía

Tribute to Amy Uyemastu: After — Part 4

As we continue to pay homage to the great Amy Uyematsu — who, yes, I will continue to call the People’s Poet Laureate of J-Town — I am so grateful and honored to present a poem in this series of homage, by another one of my favorite people and writers, the wonderful poet, educator, DJ, F. Douglas Brown. Doug and I have been working together with Visual Communications on a special arts, poetry & community project around Suehiro, First Street North, and the “Future Ghosts of Little Tokyo” and he was inspired by Amy — now one of our ancestors and inspirations for the extension of our project. Here, Douglas beautifully weaves in lines from Amy’s own work to begin each stanza of this poem centering Charlie "Bird" Parker and Bronzeville. This is part 1 of his piece we are already swooning as we look forward to more...enjoy.

- traci kato-kiriyama

* * * * *

F. Douglas Brown is the author of two poetry collections. His first book, Zero to Three, was selected by Tracy K. Smith for the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He is both a Cave Canem and Kundiman fellow, and his poems have appeared in numerous journals and magazines. Brown proudly sits on the advisory circle for the Lorca Latinx Poetry Prize and the boards for Beyond Baroque and Cultural Daily. Currently, he teaches at Loyola High School of Los Angeles, where he serves as the Director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion. When he is not teaching, writing or with his children (Isaiah, Olivia, and Simone), he is busy DJing with the Halo-Halo Boyz in the greater Los Angeles area.


Bird Entering Bronzeville 
after Amy Uyematsu

It begins here—
        As a song stuck in Bird’s head, his come-down
        Tune swaying a bit, humming, and then a full tap
        To the bright of LA shine. It clears his aches:
        “I’m awake goddamn it! I’m awake.” And Bird don’t care
        About the young buck Miles. In this business,

young men vanish in the night.
        Bird knows this truth and attempts to belt
        His head out while rehearsing. Take after take—
        Nothing until a knock and a back door devil
        Deal. A spell slips midday away.
        “The Finale gon’ be magic
        Tonight, baby.” Yes, tonight Bird plays
        The gravy off the plate. Tonight

poets go to jail
        Without a way to describe translucence,
        But it wears double-breasted pinstripes
        And the boogie dines until breakfast.
        Any causes and curses, Bird riding them off
        To remind the listeners that others know survival, too.

*This poem is copyrighted by F. Douglas Brown (2023)


© 2023 F. Douglas Brown

Amy Uyematsu F. Douglas Brown poems poetry

Sobre esta serie

Nikkei al descubierto: una columna de poesía es un espacio destinado a la comunidad nikkei para compartir historias a través de diversas composiciones sobre cultura, historia y experiencia personal. La columna presentará una amplia variedad de formas poéticas y contenido con temas que incluyen historia, raíces, identidad; historia—el pasado en el presente; la comida como ritual, celebración y legado; rituales y supuestos de tradiciones; lugar, ubicación y comunidad así como el amor.

Hemos invitado a la autora, artista y poetisa traci kato-kiriyama para que sea la curadora de esta columna de poesía mensual, en donde publicaremos a uno o dos poetas los tercer jueves de cada mes, desde escritores mayores o jóvenes que recién empiezan en la poesía a autores publicados de todo el país. Esperamos descubrir una red de voces vinculadas entre sí a través de innumerables diferencias y experiencias conectadas.