Gambare!

The sting of evacuation 
pierces the cozy unity 
of the Terminal Island community. 
48 hours 
to pack 48 years 
of life. 
Fathers first!
 
"To take care 
of her husband's affair 
was just too overwhelming... 
so she just sat down and cried."
 
Cry, Terminal Island woman, cry. 
Your time will come.
 
Curfews on distance and time 
carpetbaggers ripping off your last dime 
no one gave you a chance 
stealing your life 
for a song and a dance.
 
Cry, Terminal Island woman, cry 
Your time will come.
 
In the dead of night 
silent buses steal innocent families 
and unsuspecting children 
towards barren and desolate destinations. 
With shades discreetly drawn 
shrouding passenger windows 
so as not to offend the sensibilities
of sleeping white citizens.
 
Endless clouds of dust 
a whirling dervish of escaped dreams 
slipping thru floors cracked 
under the burden of broken hearts 
and seeping into weeping barracks –
secret storehouses of stolen lives.
 
And guards, everywhere, guards 
to protect us from the hostile white citizenry.
 
But wait! Look!
Guns pointed at us!
Wait! No! No!! 
Hiroshi-San! 
hiroshi-san 
My brother 
They killed my brother.
 
Cry, Terminal Island woman 
Your lament rings from 
Manzanar/Poston/Gila 
Heart Mountain/Topaz/Minidoka 
Tule Lake/Jerome/Rohwer/Amache 
Cry, my people 
then cry no more. 
Our time has come.
 
The Iranian hostages are home! 
Yellow ribbons fluttering amidst parades 
of happiness and patriotism.
Yellow ribbons flying high amidst waves 
of national unity and love.
 
The Jap-anese hostages are home! 
Yellow banners waving greetings of 
hatred, hostility, and blame.
 
The heroic 442nd Battalion is home! 
No banners, just silence 
to cover racism and hidden shame. 
No work, no money, no home 
no Japs allowed!!
 
She lost her sons in the war 
So what, she's a Jap!
 
He always expressed loyalty and respect for this country 
So what, he's a Jap!
 
My god, let her play! She's only a little girl 
So what, she's a Jap!
 
They're very clean people, they do excellent work 
So what, they're Japs!
 
But Dad, I love him 
So what, he's a Jap!
 
Today a commission 
sits on high 
expecting the emission 
of a sigh 
representing the submission 
of a shy, shy 
laid back community 
which, to their surprise 
stands together in unity 
once again on the rise 
once again on the rise.
 
Hayakawa, that has been banana 
sings, in Amerikan, "Oh Susannah" 
safely hidden in Cana-
duh.. . What's up Doc? 
Prescribing high dosage semantics 
to cure the spewing of truth.
 
Dance, Chiquita Hayakawa, dance 
Your time has come!
 
One by one, with empathy, support, and pride 
we told our story 
in spite of those who tried
to cut us off 
cut us short 
cut us out
once again imposing limits of distance and time 
now instead of 48 hours 
to pack away 48 years 
they gave us 5 minutes 
to pack 4 years of indignities 
and 40 years of private hells 
and expect us to put up with old lady 
dyed hair, foul-mouth racists?! 
Our people spoke louder still! 
Presidential apologies won't pay my bill!!
 
One by one, with empathy, support and pride 
filling the hearing room 
spilling out into the halls
        willing each other the strength to go on
welling up with anger, and 
swelling with pride 
as Issei and Nisei stood up and testified
  testified
  testified.
 
Breaking language barriers 
taking painful memories out of a dusty past 
ridden with horse stalls and tar paper shacks. 
Breaking a 40-year silence 
guarded by barbed wire and gaman
And with each testimony my heart 
stood up and shouted 
Gambare! Don't give up the struggle!! 
And I think they heard.
 
One by one, with empathy, support, and pride 
spiritually, each at the other's side 
Issei, Nisei, Sansei testified 
    testified 
    testified. 
And, with one voice, proclaimed loud and clear 
the time for reparations is here!!
 
 
Miya Iwataki
 
 
Contributing Editor Miya Iwataki is the Development Director at KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and a member of Pacific Asian Women Writers West.