For Mitsuye Yamada
on her 90th Birthday

They say we bitch revolutionaries never go out of fashion
Wearing floppy hats and huge wedgy shoes
A feather bandolera and a lethal python

Sometimes we wear a fro perm cause we hate our straight hair
Sometimes we wear it straight to the ankles like Murasaki

I bleached mine purple to look like kwannon Psylocke
Maxine’s beaming, like the Goddess of Nainai temple
A cross between Storm, the X-girl and Ahsoka Tano

We love our laser eyes, our Yoko granny glasses are dizzy!
Short women poets unite! Revolution ain’t just style
It’s destiny!


We will make a comeback, we always do
You and Nellie and Meryl making a rad film
Janice in a mini-skirt testifying at Glide Church
Hisaye still svelte with her bluesy magpie clarinet
Wakako dancing to a Taiko drum and Sheila E
Rats! The FBI ‘s rifling through your garbage again
Bastards are after your studded bellbottoms and a raison d’etre!

Boys, you can have them, even my embroidered hot pants!
We’ll all drag it with Cher, sporting black bangs of resistance
We’ll emolliate our bras at the Atlantic City Boardwalk
Listening to Buffy Saint Marie and fusionist Jazz bash
Angela Davis and Che, spinning revolution in our brain
When an album was a symphony
Not a blip on a Spotify Lumumba
We’ll lip-sync to Marvin Gaye and mash to Soul Train

And stage a sing-along-sit-in with Odetta!
Forget about Dylan, he’s a whiner
Where’s Jamie Baldwin, where’s Dick Gregory?
Soak our gall with Bell Hooks and Barbara Christian
Oh sweet Jesus! Allen G’s chasing your nephew around the Bodega

Imagine the long march with Mao or MLK or Harvey Milk
Study the physiognomy of foreheads of twisted fate
I was a naïve girl-poet wearing wet nappies
While you were fighting the WRA
And Executive order 9066

Where is Manzanar, where is Topaz, where is Tule Lake?
Wherefore, Gila River and Heart Mountain?
Sound like vacation hotbeds
Where rich white retirees play bingo and waltz!

They whisked your father away deep into the night
Auctioned your house off to some sleazy Hollywood exec

Hell, nobody knew
We were sucking on the tithes of the early Renaissance

Drove a pink Buick to a poetry camp called Woodstock
Ate hashish with Sylvia Plath’s ghost at an Irvine bus stop
Binged on Neruda’s psilocybin odes at Bullfrog

(Meanwhile, let’s mock a Whitmanesque praise poem in the Iowa workshop)
They say don’t write political, girl, just hang yourself with abjection!

Let’s bum rush a haiku party with conceptual artists
How long can you stare at a Urinal, for god’s sake!

What’s the difference between the old regime and the new regime?
The new one has lite sabers and a bona fide Wookiee

I confess, I was faking it, I was a revolutionary freak!
Did a hunger strike with Cesar Chavez cause he’s sexy
Mao was a new crush, Marx whetted the yoni,
I was just a horny girl poet, please forgive me

I binged on duck noodles on Clement Street after sucking down a bong
Wrote ten-thousand letters for Amnesty International high on schrooms

But I confess that on the second day of a relapse
I threw up alphabet soup all over my slutty girlfriend’s Austin Healy
She thought she was a dikey James Bond, oh really!
I lied that the dog did it!

For your 90th birthday, my dear Auntie Mitsuye
I write you this silly poem
not counting syllables, accentuals or diphthongs
not making it sing or pulling a long conceit
out of an imperialist’ ass-
anine simulacra, or trying to rap with the youngsters
wearing a Compton cap. Or break-dancing
for an endstop

Not trying to make a hybridity lipidity sonnet
the volta is loving     my vulva     lapping vodka     on the Volga!
not a long religious rant about a pussy Jeoffry,
nor dogging the doggy dogma dharma
who left her yellow mark all over the doggity diaspora
not lifting a hind leg       but squatting in the morning glory
like a real Asian Diva

They paid you
20,000 for your civil liberties
A mule and ten acres of scorched paddy apotheosis

They slapped a cruel judgment on the new century
There will always be another brown girl to hate
Rape her village, burn her wedding veil, shoot her in the face
Plant a black flag on her sweet soul
Strap her down with a ticking heart-bomb and show no mercy

Auntie Mitsuye
No more redress, no more reparations, no worries about legacy
Let’s live raunchily and have the last laugh

Somewhere in a faraway kingdom
We shall eat that magical pill of immortality

You and me and Emily D.
Gnawing ganja cookies, dreaming on our backs
And Bessie’s crooning her heart out on a crappy 8-track!


“I build a revolution / in my bedroom / every time I masturbate.”