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ANNE KELLY'S POEM ABOUT HER DAD
DAN CUTHBERT

"The poem is centered around a Japanese flag that my dad brought back.  Interestingly the flag left Japan, went to Burma, lived in Scotland, all across Canada.  It ended its stay on Vancouver Island. Ironically my dad died of food poison at the age of 65.  The flag is almost back in Japan again.  It is indeed like the Rising Sun making a full circle. 

Anne"

-11- Daniel -

 

1995 - half a century from the war has past

half a world away

 

your body turns to irony

invaded by a parasite from the civilized world -

 

aeromonas hydrophila - pathogenic

to the denizen of the mer

the denizen of the earth -

 

You are gone -

still memories remain

over again in pictures

the memory of your words

and the silken weave of the flag

 

            We had our pictures taken, and this one

            me, holding the flag.  What do you think of it ma?

            It’s made of  silk and Japanese names.

            Don’t let our John see it!

            He’ll be taking it to work

            showing others and his mates

            what Daniel had done,

            killed a Jap.

            I found it in a hole Ma.

-17-

The Harada’s

 

My mind is preoccupied

with Tecchan and his battle flag

the hinomaru

 

and Taka - Takamitsu Harada

a history professor

who lives on Milton street

 

His father, Mr. Harada senior

resides across the ocean

in nearby Kobe

 

five thousand dead -

two hundred and seventy thousand injured

in an earthquake - mass-murderer of a realm

 

 

 

Taka says after fifty years of being dead

one is no longer remembered -

discarded like tea leaves -

 

an ancient Japanese tradition.

 

-22-

The Ceremony

 

 

Today I took Tecchan’s flag to school

 

 

Eight students sit

in a circle on the floor

anxious to see Keiske - the student poet/

Japanese sword dancer -

unfold the flag

 

Keiske performs ceremoniously

like his dance - one step at a time

in honour of the patriot Tecchan

 

The young Japanese women and Chinese men

do not understand the aged silken words

the aged silken world

 

faded and forgotten

under a glass they magnify

a thousand squares - a maze

 

fifty years of secret talks

Tecchan stirs - their fingers move

an invisible planchette

 

   

Shwe Dagon Pagoda

 

East of Calcutta and the Bay of Bengal

gold leaf glitters night and day

on  top of  the Pagoda

 

Shwe Dagon Pagoda

 

The Dagon’s roof

sparkles in the night

brilliant stars of toil

for men to see

 

lights at a distance

  -23-

 

Sandalwood, Souls and Silk

 

I open the box

of the elephant roof -

 

this Pandora’s box

still scents of  wood

and  web of Tecchan’s silk

 

a mesh of cloth

 patterned by an earthworm

assembled for stockings and chutes

and men to draft their names upon

 

a Rising Sun

the flag of a friend

 

 

-12-

 

Inside the Jungle Box

 

I want to release you.

 

If it were only as simple

as lifting the lid from this box

not to touch you in the dark

to know you, soldier Tecchan

 

The wait is long; you lay alone trapped.

Was life ever simple for you?

 

Fifty years within sandlewood walls

elephants carved

on your roof.  Inside

darkness, the jungle at night.

 

Never a moon or rising sun

hosts your silken soul.

Folded, you lay on this tropical floor

permeated essence--

sweet forest after monsoon

 

Quiet.  Away from the other jungle

where monkeys and men scream;

from the other side of the Sandalwood

(ageless in your jungle box

you wait for Takamitsu)

.

-15-

 

Introduction of Daniel (Letter 1)

 

Burma, August 1945

 

My feet are killing me ma -

Some guy they call doc took a penknife

cut out the corners of my toenails--

they were into the quick

 

My shoes are too tight he said

God, they’re a mess of pus

I’m sick ma - all we do is walk

till it gets too dark to see

They say it won’t be long

till we can come home

 

The Japs still have Rangoon. Tell da

he’ll be pleased to hear some news, I suppose

you don’t hear too much from where I am

right in the jungles

 

Monkeys and tigers and Japs

behind the trees!  I’m afraid ma, God

let it please soon be over

for all of our sakes

 

Remember I told you about my buddy Jimmy

the chap who bunked with me in Burma -

he stood on a mine yesterday at Kisty’s

just off Monkey Point, no one around

 

An accident I guess you could call it -

being in the wrong place at the wrong time

or the right, cause it could have been a tram car

on a street in George’s Square.  Right ma?

 

It was over before he knew it

 tell his ma, if you see her.  I was there

 he didn’t suffer once it hit

 no more jungles in the night

 

 

-16-

 

No more fear of animals hiding

snakes as big as pipes

longer than a bus

double the deck

 

Tell da I’ve started to smoke now ma -

I know you think I always did

anyway, there’s no fags here

we have to smoke this opium traded

 

from the black market man

gets me drunk. It’s not so bad -

at night I can’t sleep. It helps

some men who like to talk

 

How’s da, ma and May -

is she still going out every night after work

dancing, carrying on with the sailors and WAFS

drinking and singing

songs I wouldn’t mind hearing

“We’ll Meet Again”

Tell her I’ll bring her an autographed picture

of David Niven - he’s in my platoon

twenty five tents away

out of six hundred

 

Gotta go now ma

I love you

I’ll write again soon

 

      Your loving son

         Daniel

 

 

 

-21-

Taka

You make me work so hard Taka -

take me across the ocean in ships

with three hundred thousand soldiers

You are the ship

 

place me in the belly of a zero fighter

flying over South Pacific waves

wings painted a red circle sun

sets on Falcon’s silver coat

You are the bird

 

scarlet blood spills

from Kamikaze pilots

who fly to die -

no fuel to return

to their mother, earth

 

Those who watch from another ship

pray it is not their time

now is the time -

to tell their story

 

-20-

 

Continuation of a Letter Home

 

Ma, you said when I grow up

I wouldn’t be afraid of the dark

 

Here I am nineteen

More afraid than before

 

Don’t tell da or John

Give my love to May

 

Your loving son

 

            Daniel.

 

 

P.S.  Ma

 

It’s the next day -

we’re moving camp

 

I just wanted to say

if you see Martha Boland

tell her I was asking about her

 

I’ve adopted a cat

think of a name

 

 

            Daniel  

 

-27-

 

Letter 3

 

Dear Ma

 

I’m getting lots of practice

playing the moothie

with other men

 

Hugo’s ma packed two extras

she bought in Germany

before the war -

Hohner’s the best

she says

 

Hugo nearly fell over

when I called it a mouth organ

 

Hug says it’s a “Harmonica.”

It nearly started a fight

Imagine  -

a fight in the middle of the war

all for a song

 

Why do we call it moothies ma?

 

Tell da to get the clappers out

we’ll sing our songs

like before

 

Remember ma?

we’d sing -

“My Yiddish A Mama”

and “TheWild Colonial Boy”

       Your Loving Son

            Daniel

 

 

-19-

 

 

 

From a Letter to Taka (1)

 

 

Two months have passed -

No word from you, Taka

 

Is something wrong in Japan -

Is your family well?  Your father eighty-one

has he received the pictures yet?

 

The temples are well known -

Shwe Dagon Pagoda, my favourite

 I like to say aloud

Shwe Dagon Pagoda

sounds Japanese

 

Without you, Taka

-Tecchan remains -

a soul lost in time

 

-28-

 

Japanese Letters

 

Calligraphic proverbs

 

One of ten who knows the art

 etches a wish for life in silk

 

Against the sun time has turned

black ink to softer grey

 

Words of honour for soldier Tecchan

Long life, good luck!

           

            Your friend

            Takabe

 

-18-

 

An Offering

 

Nisshoki - Rising Sun

A tree its body leans

To the air - life

 

Soldiers arise

to a plum in a bowl of rice

 

-26-

Animal Disquiet

 

Always the sound of guns

and screams

- a blanket of fog

at times I can’t see -

 through the confusion

 - trees and men

 Still -  I can hear

 strange birds

 calling

 Are they afraid

 like me?

  -24-

 

From a Letter to Taka (2)

I made a set of wind chimes

for your father’s house in Japan

from distilled spirits of silver

 

Four long handled teaspoons

dance in the wind

 

Many times the two of you

walked this road together

looking for each other

along the road to Mandalay.

 

Broken many times repaired

bridges are scarred for life.

 

Lotus leaves from the Irawaddy

border the jungle

through a Pyu village.

 

No dogs bark.

no birds call.

 

Bamboo is silent in the wind.

 

The two of you stalk

each other’s side, day and night.

 

Stone Griffins watch

along the road to Mandalay.

-29-

Introduction of Mr. Fujioka

 

Ten voices of your soul

one more time unveil

ten memories of life

 

voices in the words

carved with fingered sword

carve against the silk

 

one more time unveil

ten voices of  the soul -

ten memories of your lives

 

-30-

For Orada Tessai/Tecchan

 

December 21, 1995

 

The longest day of the year.

 

Fifty years and two months you have lived within

 the elephant box.

 

Mr. Fujioka recognizes your name might be

Orada Tessai

 

your nickname Tecchan

 

 

Mr. Fujioka, an interpreter of art

reveals the souls who live

captured indirectly

inside the weave

of your hinomaru

 

the words sojourn

within the box

- unactivated energy

 

till we open the lid

unfold the flag

reactivate the muse

 

 

 

-33-

 

 

 

The Spirits

 

 

Your instructor Mr. Kasai

 announces at the top of the hinomaru

I pray you are fortunate

 

 

 

Your comrades do not leave 

 they remain within the weave

through the living word

 

We see  - their other side -

Mr. Yamauchi - My soul goes with you.

Mr. Ransui  - Defeat the enemy with one blow.

Mr. Luwando - I follow you courageous Tecchan

 Shoin - Go brave man soldier

Takabe - Good luck Japanese Empire.

 The Taragi family - Banzai.

Sai- Don’t fear a horrible death.

Makoto Yamomoto - I pray you are a good fighter

 

You are their soldier Tecchan

 

  -32-

Sai and Yamomoto

 

Mr. Fujioka interprets a riddle from Sai

 

He determines -

Sai’s character is Okada’s character

a myth within a man

 

This artist says Yamomoto

 is an honest friend

 

I like to say his name

again and again

over and over -

Makoto Yamomoto

Makoto Yamomoto

 

-9-

The War Book

Today I open the small brown book

your war book - torn on the ends

 

The first page says

 release authorisation

 

Yet you are not released -

only granted leave

 

You have been authorized a  war gratuity

 and a post-war credit

 - five shillings in a  money order

 to be cashed in case of an emergency

 

I read your notes on remobilisation instructions

 You have NOT BEEN DISCHARGED

Yet  you turn in your sten

 your seven rounds of ammo

and your identity  - 785467

as a member of the S.E.A.A.F’s

a division of the South East Asian

Air Force.

 

five foot seven and a half inches tall

you tell me you feel smaller now

than you did before the war

 

.

You remain on Indian Tax Code

until June of forty six

with a consolidated pay of seven shillings

earned each day

twelve pennies to each shilling

Eighty four pennies

for each day you spent

at war.

 

Your Flight Lieutenant - Henderson

describes you as I knew you -

 

Leading Aircraftsman Cuthbert

has faithfully  carried out

his duties as a Radar operator

and has helped to maintain

the morale of the unit

by his good humour and interest

 in welfare matters.

 

-31-

Okayama-Ken

 

I received your letter

postmarked Okayama-Ken.

 

Seven days it took

seven thousand miles 

around the world

half way from Japan.  Unlike Tecchan-

who still travels after fifty years

shore to shore in a balsam ship

fragrant heartwood of santalum

 

Silken sails haunt the sky of

this phantom man, Tecchan.

 

Does he still search for his Emperor?

 

Taka says there are many Tecchans’

lost in the jungle still.

 

Taka’s father, a Haiku artist,

remembers the war well.

 

The River Quai, he says,

is indelible.

 

He learned first hand

like any man

who has held a grenade.

His fingers blown into air,

he says we should not beautify war.

 

Our Father’s

Dear Taka

You say there are many Tecchans,

most of them still sleeping

in the jungle.

 

 

You say in a word,

life  is a war.

 

That your father too went

as a soldier,

 

He believed like Daniel,

he was fighting for the sake of righteousness

but now notices, of  course,

it was an aggression - transgression

 

 

-13-

 

Sept. 13th, 1998

HARADA Takamitsu

Instructor

399, Rokujoin-Naka, Kamogata-Cho

Asakuchi-Gun,

Okayama-Ken,

Japan

 

 

Dear Taka,

            Who would have thought? Today I found another Tecchan.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Feb. 20, 1998

Release No. 98026

 

Japanese Soldier’s family finds closure after 52 years

By Staff Sgt. Guy Volb

374th Airlift Wing public affairs

YOKOTA AIR BASE,  Japan (PACAFNS) -- Fifty two years of grieving came to an end Feb. 6 for the Japanese family of Masaichi Ando when the battle flag he took

to war for good luck was returned by the nephew of a past  U.S. soldier.  Ando, a Japanese soldier, was killed in a battle fought between the U.S. and Japan during World War 11.

 

Roger Jarvis, a resident of Anchorage, Alaska, recently sent Ando’s battle flag to officials at Yokota Air Base, Japan, asking them to return it to the Ando family.

 

 

 

 

 

-14-

 

 

During an emotional ceremony at United States Forces Japan headquarters, 5th Air Force Vice Commander Brig. Gen. Ed LaFountaine presented the flag to members of the soldier’s surviving family.  He spoke of the Japanese soldier with reverence.

 

 

 

 

“He was a brave soldier who, in the face of overwhelming odds, served his country with honor and made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Lafountaine.

 

He said Ando was a 32 year old patriot when he was drafted into the Japanese service, leaving behind a wife and three daughters with another on the way.

 

In a letter written to the Ando family, Jarvis explained that his uncle, 1st Ltd. David Rogers, a soldier in the U.S. Army Infantry assigned to the 158th Regimental Combat Team, originally took the flag during a battle fought north of Manila.  He explained in the letter that his uncle had always wanted to return the flag but was unsuccessful.  Jarvis was given the flag following Rogers death several years ago.

 

The battle flag was signed by members of Ando’s family , community and religious leaders in hopes that it would keep him safe from harm.

 

The exact circumstances surrounding  Ando’s death in the Philippines remain cloudy.

 

Jarvis hoped that by returning the flag to the Ando family it would help shed light on a father they barely knew.

 

Of  the Japanese soldier’s four daughters attending the ceremony, the youngest, Katsue, wasn’t born until after he left for combat.  She knows her father only from what others have told her through the years.  Several times during the ceremony she broke into tears as she listened to the circumstances surrounding her father’s service to his country and the flag’s return.

 

The family plans to take the flag to their father’s final resting place and present it as a tribute in honor of his memory.

  -36-

Works Cited

 

 

For Immediate Release.  Staff Sgt. Guy Volb.  Air Force News. 

            http://www.hqpacaf.af.mil/news/1998/98026.htm

 

-34-

 

Letter 4

 

Dear Ma,

 

There are no stars to-night

 

Too many trees -

Not enough sky

 

I day dream  in the dark

But then you always said

I was a dreamer

 

I was thinking maybe Martha

would wear the flag

 -as a headscarf

 

you know - the one I found in the hole

it being silk and all

Have you seen her lately?

Do you think she’ll like it?

 

I have to hide it from the blokes here

Aye imagine - the ones on our side.

 

            Give my love to Da, May and John

            Your loving son

                        Daniel

 

-10-

 

Dear Daniel

It’s a disorder here without you

planes fly low at night -

we blacken the windows

sit by the fire and pretend

they don’t see us

 

Remember before the war

 we’d sit in the dark and

listen to the radio  - Dan Dare

 - pilot of the future

where’s the future now

 

Now we listen to BBC broadcasts

 and Vera Lynn - she’s got

 a new song, you know

“The White Cliffs of Dover”

May sings it all the time

shadow dances in the dark

 

Churchill declared last week

they’re serving oats

to the troops

Everybody’s saying good for the Scots

that porridge built the British Nation

 

Your da and I are fine son
John and May still the same

cursing the curfew

 

Keep strong till we get you home

Aye we’ll have a party

 

                        Cheerio Daniel

                         Your loving mother

           

 

 

 

-25-

 

 

Dear Ma (2)

 

There’s a temple with a bell in Dagon

 forty five tons in copper weight, tell John

 

 They call it the Maha Tithada Ganda - -

  - it hangs inside the Shwedagon - -

  a pagoda with a gold-leaf roof

 

 Imagine a bell, ma, nine by five by thirteen cubits

 like an arc, something out of the Bible

 built by a King - Thayawaddy was his name

 

Da can tell his mates at the Forge -

eighty men were employed

in this big bell’s casting

 

The recruiter said I’d learn something

Useful in this war

 

 

SECTION 2

 

 

Excerpts from the Flag

 

 

SECTION 1

 

 

Inside The Words

 

 

Seed is the heart of a woman

in an apricot world

 

Shoots like a rocket from the earth

its own womb in between

 

The ocean and the moon

CREW 310

Anne Kelly

615 202 686

Steve Guppy

December 22, 1998

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