From No Epic Song
2. Strawberry Fields
These fields were taken by shovels and spades.
By water draining down ditches,
to plant after plant all down these rows
Were taken by crows and worms and drought.
An executive order signed by
Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
There’s a tide here like darkness slowly sliding in.
The voice of a woman calling at evening
at the edge of the field.
A baby bawling somewhere back in a cabin.
Gohan cooling on a wooden table.
The horizon’s opulent, obedient as the sun
which rises on each day without calling
not like the biwa player working this earth
and dreaming hana fuda
bringing alien coin
after coin. A sip of sake.
A drunk walk home. Thus will
moonlight limn him to the outer edges of this land
and a consciousness brimming
with some haiku in his head
so unlike anything he sees—
snow flakes fall to the sea
where do they go
where do they go
Once a fence post sank here in its ground.
It was dug by a spade and shovel and boredom.
Along with other posts, barbed wire and guards
It held three thousand in a place called Minidoka.
A day of infamy said the President before Congress.
Dirty Japs imprinted the headlines of Hearst.
My god they’re coming said mother and fathers on the coast.
My god they’re here said passers-by on the streets.
I don’t recall said my mother in Morton Grove.
I played baseball there said father in his Buick.
(So many songs of protest. This isn’t one.
It’s smaller and more lost. More comfortably silent.)
I walk among remnants of boards and wires,
Slight indentations in earth where once they slept.
A spoon, a wire figurine. Chopstick. Limb of a doll.
Wind whips across the prairie. The afternoon darkens.
Town full of no one, not even shadows of fences.
A site in the desert plains no one ever sees.
And who are the invaders and who are the prisoners.
And who stands guard here. Or witness. Or thief.