The following poems are from the collection WOODRAT FLAT (Tinfish Press, 2015), by the late Albert Saijo, which includes work from the late 1980s and early 1990s, prescient poems about the environment, marijuana farming, and the failures of government; as well as beautiful, close observations of the natural world.
Saijo was born in 1926 in the San Gabriel Valley of California. As a teenager, he and his family were interned at Heart Mountain Internment Camp in Wyoming. He served with the 442nd in Italy during World War II, then returned to become a Beat Poet in the San Francisco Bay Area. With Lew Welch and Jack Kerouac, he wrote Trip Trap: Haiku On the Road, written in the late 1950s, but not published until 1972. After leaving the city for northern California, he wrote The Backpacker, a wise and practical book illustrated by his brother, Gompers. He and his wife Laura moved to the Big Island of Hawai`i in the early 1990s. Saijo died on June 2, 2011.
WHY NOT TAKE THE FUN VIEW
SUCCULENT ALOE VERA JADE PLANT ECHEVERIA HENS & CHICKS – FROZEN BACK TO STEMS – THEIR LEAVES LOOKING LIKE UNFROZEN VEGGIES FROM THE
STORE – ALL WATER INSIDE LEAVES FROZEN – AVOCADO WE BEEN NURSING ALONG LOOKS BAD – FORGOT TO COVER IT – COVERED LIMES OK – YOU KNOW IT’S COLD WHEN HARDY NATIVE LIKE CALIFORNIA SCROFULARIA FREEZES – BENT OVER WITH EXTREMETIES FROZEN – SAME WITH NETTLE & STACHYS – ALL WILL COME BACK FROM ROOTS – NOTHING KILLS BLACKBERRY – BUT WHERE ARE ALL THE SPARROWS – ALL GERANIUMS FROZEN – OVERWINTERING BOK CHOY PARSLEY & BROCCOLI OK – RHODODENDRONS ONLY CURLED THEIR LEAVES INWARD – AMAZINGLY HARDY PRIMULAS WITH HURT BLOSSOMS STILL PEEKING OUT LIVE COLOR – I HAVE READ THIS IS A HIMALAYAN PLANT – FUSCHIA FOLIAGE FROZEN BUT WOOD ALIVE – FRUIT TREES OK – MOST STUFF IN GARDEN OK BUT GENERAL DEVESTATION OF FOLIAGE – THANK YOU ALASKA FOR THIS PREVIEW OF NUCLEAR WINTER – IT’S GONNA BE FUN – IF WE LAST
I TRY SUE GOVT FOR NONLEGAL STATUS BUT DISAPPEAR INSTEAD – I’M TIRED OF BEING TAXED WITHOUT REPRESENTATION – I’M BEING TAXED TO SUPPORT PEOPLE IN OFFICE WHO DON’T HAVE MY INTERESTS AT HEART WHO TELL ME IN FACT I’M ILLEGAL & FURTHER THEY WILL TAKE EVEN ILLEGAL MEANS ACCORDING TO U S CONSTITUTION AS WRIT TO TRY TO ENFORCE THEIR WILL ON ME – TO BUST ME – ME – WHO AM JUST LIKE YOU DEAR READER – I DON’T GET IT – TAKE MY MONEY WITH ONE HAND WHILE BASHING ME OVER THE HEAD WITH THE OTHER & CALLING ME A CRIMINAL TO BOOT FOR WHAT – IN THIS INSTANCE FOR GROWING A PLANT – A PLANT LIKE CORN SQUASH & BEANS – A PLANT THAT TEACHES YOU WHAT FREEDOM MEANS – O – IS THAT WHY – I GET IT – FORGET I BROUGHT UP THE SUBJECT AS I DISAPPEAR INTO THE WOODS – NOW WITH CAMO ON YOU DON’T SEE ME EVEN IF YOU’RE STANDING NEXT TO ME – NOW I’M NONLEGAL – LIKE LIFE – I’M NATURE BOY BUT I’M SURE GLAD I KNOW THE LANGUAGE & CULTURE HERE