July Lit: "Song for An Asian American Radical: Yuri Kochiyama" by David Mura

July 24, 2014

Art of Yuri Kochiyama courtesy of DignidadRebelde.com

In honor of the passing of Yuri Kochiyama, we offer you an ode to Yuri's activism, inspiration, and leadership by poet David Mura.

--Karissa Chen, Fiction & Poetry Editor



I open the door

and there she stands hectoring me 

about Malcolm X.
Says impatiently there’s no time 

for sumiye or sake,
exigencies of meter, rhyme. 

She’s so tiny, I’m so
unknowing, the fractions enormous, 

all those years of fires
in Philly, Detroit, Oakland, Harlem, Watts. 

Behind her the night
stalks its stars beyond history 

and I know if I shut
this door each time she vanishes farther 

till nothing remains
but silence and sleep. 

Reader you may think
in the end I’ll let her in.  Don’t 

count on it.  That’s
why she keeps knocking 

night after night.


David Mura

David Mura will publish his newest book of poetry, The Last Incantations, in March 2014 (Northwestern University Press). His other poetry books are After We Lost Our Way (a National Poetry Series Contest winner), The Colors of Desire (the Carl Sandburg Literary Award), and Angels for the Burning. His two memoirs are Turning Japanese (winner of PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award and a New York Times Notable Book) and Where the Body Meets Memory.