The idea of the kids still haunts me ten years later.
Very infrequently I have nightmares about ghostly green, purple, and burnt orange faces of Japanese children floating above their anguished parents, who are still living bitter lives in tiny yatai-shaped temporary houses scattered throughout a cartoon nuclear meltdown hellscape version of Fukushima.
I know the reality isn’t quite that bad. But ten years on folks in Tōhoku still can’t go home, and in the deep ocean there are the bones of innocent kids from 3/11 that will never be discovered nor buried. For ten years the loss of those lives and their potential has bothered me, and probably always will.
I wrote this poem about the lost children in 2014 for the third anniversary of the disaster. It’s also an ode to the sorrow and horror felt by a man who merely edited other people’s stories from the disaster but didn’t actually experience it himself. So take that for what it’s worth as you read the poem, and I hope you enjoy it…
Gone, just gone
The bubblegum kids no one is ever going to know,
rotting out their lives in the cold of Mishima’s boiling sea.
There’s grace in the truncheons of justice they may have become.
There’s iron will in the blood they will never spill on land.
There’s a permanent school of candyfloss and diamond textbooks
waiting to teach them about the ghosts of great emperors.
It’s the time when they died that will never forgive, and will ever hate itself
for taking them walking to the undersea graves of lost civilizations.
There’s teeny shoes floating in the sea that had warm, happy feet in them.
There’s a TV somewhere that always shows cartoons only Japanese children can understand.
There’s a tear we cry for strangers who will never grow up to be our friends.
Or invent new light.
Or cure the gangrene in our hateful bones.
There is soil that will never be disturbed, for there is no reason to displace it for graves.
It is fine soil, still, and we should honor it by planting flowers that taste like rice candy.
We should remember that sometimes the bubblegum kids see with both a living and a dead set of eyes.
And we should love them, and we should remember them,
And we should hold what we know of them with a warmth that radiates down into the deepest chasm at the bottom of the sea.
In the time of coronavirus, my wife and I didn’t do much on Thanksgiving Day 2020 but stay home and cook for ourselves. We didn’t even watch the Macy’s parade. Cooking Thanksgiving feast for two people, which included an 11-pound turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and a persimmon pie, was a surprisingly time-consuming endeavor.
Still, I did get out briefly a couple of times during the day and shot this collection of photographs. Enjoy…
A suspension of color in my deceased father-in-law’s living room.
The calm of the world as the sun comes up.
A turkey at my neighbor’s house.
Our turkey goes into the oven.
The flag and a family on the high street.
Last-minute grocery trip for daughter and father.
My wife would like to show a happy world to everyone.
(Photographed in Brisbane, California on Thanksgiving Day, 2020. I hope yours was happy and safe. See my other work here.)
So, the coronavirus, yeah. How are you holding up? It’s crazy out there, right? Not like ‘violence in the streets’ crazy, not yet, but nutty enough. I really hope you’ve got enough savings and food and family support and job security to get though this as painlessly as possible.
I’ve been going out every day, mostly just to my local grocery store a few blocks from my house to get Dr Pepper and cigarettes. And I started a little project photographing people wearing masks, at food stores and elsewhere, to protect themselves from viral infection. It’s not a world-changing project, but it’s something to keep me occupied while we’re all mostly stuck at home all day.
So I hope you enjoy the photos here, and the growing number of photographs I’m compiling here. Thanks for having a look.
At a Grocery Outlet in San Francisco
Waiting in line outside a Nijiya Market in San Francisco
At Midtown Market here in Brisbane, California
Photographically speaking, I had a great week. It was full of the brief but enriching encounters with people that drive home to me why I’m a photojournalist. Even in the most mundane places, and my life right now encompasses a LOT of mundane places, I observe instances of friendliness, open-heartedness, and joy that keep me hopeful that all of us just might be okay if we don’t burn it all down…
Remember: people and the world are more beautiful, odd, and interesting than you think, you just have to stop and look long enough to notice.
Codename: Pink Tuba Fire…
Welcome to the first installment of a new weekly feature here on Brisbane Graphic Arts Museum. It’s an ongoing showcase of photographs from my growing body of photojournalism and street photography work, featuring what I think are the best and/or most interesting photos I shot during a given week. I hope you enjoy my work, or get some value from it, and will come back here each week to see how I’ve been seeing our world.
Here we go…