Three Poems by Amy Uyematsu

Poetry by Amy Uyematsu. Posted August 22, 2018.

Ed. note: If you are reading these poems on a phone, please view the screen in the horizontal position in order to see the line breaks as intended by  the poet.


                                                                       I used to be a Cheeto junkie

                                                                       OD’ed so many times

                                                                       on that cheezy crunchy

                                                                       Bad Bad Bad I’d sing as I munch

                                                                       won’t let others see

                                                                       one more bag in my lunch

                                                                       But now there’s a Cheeto Satan

                                                                       the once delectable snack

                                                                       an election cheat’s poison

                                                                      His lies like his face

                                                                      are stained a fake orange

                                                                      that no soap can erase

                                                                      Bad Bad Bad oh no he’s for real

                                                                      a POTUS too dangerous

                                                                      for us to sit still

                                                                     And Cheetos a habit I finally quit

                                                                     cured in an instant

                                                                     by this self-serving twit


A mural created by Saicket for Rabanitos Restaurant, 1758 W. 18th St., Chicago, IL.

                                                       On Poets

– for Gil-Scott Heron

A poet carries the unseen seed for a long time.

A poet is both mother and father.

Collecting bones, leaves, and names with equal anticipation,

a poet is most amazed by the gift of countless

moments of amazement.

A poet walks on a tightrope of syllables.

A poet keeps writing no matter how dangerous.

An advocate for the ordinary,

a poet can be no less than revolutionary.

Feared most by tyrants, a poet cannot hide.

A poet begins with nothing and ends with everything,

over and over again.

A poet inhabits the crowded country of dream and desire,

improvising her small portion of words like a jazz musician.

A poet sings because it’s the only way she knows how.

A poet keeps giving birth to herself.

(published in Basic Vocabulary, 2016)

Black Lives Matter at SF Women’s March, January 2018. Photo: Eddie Wong

As American As

– February, 2018


I am in my car just a block away from City Hall. The light turns green

but traffic has stopped. Who finally emerges is a man on bicycle,

slowly making his way across the street but going in circles. Once he reaches

the sidewalk, he keeps riding in loops as we all move on. But I still see him,

wonder about all the wars we’re fighting -– especially these latest assaults,

the undeniable dread that’s spreading within us, trying to go on as if we can

still lead somewhat normal lives but knowing the very idea of normal has been

distorted so much that a man biking in circles and holding up traffic

makes total and welcome sense.




adding one more school shooting to the list, the latest a Florida high school

tents and make-shift shelters populating our streets

tearing down affordable housing for luxurious high-rises

ignoring the mentally ill who crowd our downtown sidewalks

another black man shot in the back by police

another cop who gets off

people we know who can’t afford health care

highways and bridges falling apart

politicians who protect the rich and themselves

in-your-face corruption

churchgoers in North Carolina and Texas gunned down

young men with torches shouting Nazi slogans

a president who encourages them

fake news and alternate truths

the unborn more important than those already here

locking up children at the border

being told to go back where we came from

climate change just another hoax

nobody listening

the enemy closer than we know


President’s Day weekend, 2018 – “Black Panther,”

              the new Marvel comic film, breaking records

                            for ticket sales. Many young fans, too young to know

               about the Black Panthers of my generation. It’s the same

Feeling of ethnic pride as fifty years ago, when

              Oakland Black Panthers served free breakfasts to children,

                            two ’68 Olympics medal winners gave the black power salute,

              and we sang with James Brown, “I’m black and I’m proud,”

Even if we weren’t black. Revolutionary change – the new normal then,

              let it remain the new normal now – with “Black Lives Matter,”

                           NFL players on bended knee, women’s marches from coast

              to coast, high school students demanding anti-gun laws.

Fifty years ago when Martin was killed, who could imagine

              we’d elect Barack Obama just four decades later,

                             hip hop music and dance would be global staples,

              Claudine Rankine’s Citizen, the only poetry bestseller.

Superheroes are nothing new in the struggle, only this time

              a Disney movie is giving every boy and girl, young and old,

                            that big screen sensation of fighting for justice –

              as normal as Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, on and on.

Let us bridge the generations and remind all who will listen

              that it only takes one woman sitting on a bus to inspire hundreds,

                            one farmworker, one union activist, one parent

              to build a movement based on the power of the people.

Poet’s Bio:

Amy Uyematsu is a Sansei poet and teacher from Los Angeles.  She currently teaches a writing workshop at the Far East Lounge in Little Tokyo.

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