They warned them about us, about me.
We were one of them.
Not to be trusted, they said.

Don’t talk so loud, she said.
Speak English, she said.
So I went to my room and hid my dolls with wobbly heads.

They’ll be coming, don’t you doubt it, they’ll be coming
and we’ll be blamed
because of the curve of our nose,
the slant of our eyes.
Mark my words,
there’ll be hell to pay.

And we are paying,
the Dow falling
precipitously in the shale of greed.

Now I have portion control.
My husband grows skinnier.
I divvey up the stone potatoes, stone carrots.
I go around to turn off unnecessary lights.
We eat in, take home-lunch to work,
five minute showers, search for black
currents and unplug computers.
We eat no fat and dream lean.
Teeth against the meat bone.
We do whatever it takes,
as we watch the rock of our pensions
disappear over the cliff.
Where did it all go?
“To money heaven,” you say.
“Just to money heaven.

I go outside to look
up at the sky.
I see that it is all there–
the pebbles of clouds,
the ambient crystals of light
a blue-rock sky
that’s not bad
to have or need.

My battery alarm clock buzzed at 4:30 a.m.,
and I walked toward my parents’ voices
as the radio talked about the power outage
and we listened with flashlights.

I brushed my teeth, put on makeup,
and changed clothes in dim light.
Then I carried a bag containing
papers I graded the night before
grateful that there was power yesterday.

I reversed out of the driveway with caution
and measured the distance
between car headlights
as I crossed the intersection.

There were rows of lights on the freeway,
and I drove along with everyone
trying to forget the inconvenience
depending on lights to guide my way.

—Ann Inoshita

Thanks to the local bradas, playing uke Friday night,
anybody’s backyard, Pauoa valley. The clink
of their green bottles drifting up to moths
dancing in the porch light guiding my way.

And to Nana who comes faithfully
to early mass every Sunday,
dressed in low-heeled-square-toed shoes,
genuflecting before a mosaic of apostles
in stained glass light guiding my way.

There are others; Japanese cops in Korean bars,
Chinatown butchers chopping char siu,
the bedridden in Leahi who outlive their children.

As I set sail on this moonless life,
I go over a riverbed of stones casting off
sparks as we touch, brief lights
illuminating the long journey ahead.
I keep an eye out for the fires.

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