Poetry Suite by Yoshika Wason

Editor Sam Preminger, Poetry, April 15th, 2020

"how do I stop being so yesnoyes?"


Poetry by Yoshika Wason


Book Fair

After report card conferences
I led my parents to the Scholastic book fair           
where I read Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
We looked at photos of a woman
with fingernails so long
they curled like stiff ribbons.
I turned the page to a man with tattoos
covering 98% of his body. Then
I saw shrunken heads created
from the enemies of ancient people.

I flipped the page again. A halting “oh”
from my parents came as a response.
Unexpectedly, we had come across
a picture of personal significance:
a photo of my parent’s wedding day.
I wasn’t able to find their young faces                                                  
among the thousands of brides and grooms
that they shared their day with—but I was certain
that they were just beyond the camera’s scope.
I closed the book but the image stayed with me.
I began to wonder if Mom and Dad really
did belong with the strange and the unusual.




Mother Tongue

If laughter is my second language then lying is my third.    I cut my tongue     on sharp words
as I learn to lie about where I’m going and who I’m seeing.    I cut my hair    when it’s too alive
with tongues    I blame mother   Medusa for stealing my laugh    as if I had no way to stop
the negative space from expanding    until we are no longer    in the same frame.
Now when I start to laugh     my lips move but no sound comes out     my tongue spasms
like a phantom limb. A squid newly beheaded     still remembers     how to dance. 




Who do you think you are? The question on
my college application says something
else. Religious affiliation:____________?
My dad says leave it blank because if they
know, they’ll change their mind about you, but I still
write “Moonie.” Turns out, he was wrong.

The word invades. This time as a warning
about love bombing from my art teacher.
She cuts m**nies into syllables and
I help abstract it by rearranging
the letters. From m-o-o-n-i-e-s there are new words:


Spreading the word of god means ignoring
signs like “no soliciting” in front of
a barbershop where a hairstylist flicks
the word MOONIE to me then points
to the door. I’m stripped of my words and leave,

While packing for college, my parents gift
me a suitcase, camera, and journal
before starting the three hour drive to my dorm.
An hour into I-95, I turn
on the radio. An ad, the weather,
then breaking news: THE LEADER
The meaning of the word is held in limbo:


Light of Glory

First, the lightening of glory
                                        flashes blue-green,
                          the last days are here.

             Next, a kick of thunder
                                        from the inside
                                                      belly church, brings new life.

                            Apocalyptic winds mixed
                                                       with a rain of metalware
                                       flood the earth.
                                                    From the swell
                                                                 new Jesus is born.

                             Write his origin story
               hunched over dim light
                             playing his rebirth
                                           over and over, soaking
                                                        fact with myth
                             until the two bleed,
                mixed into the same color.

                                                         You think your labor is the stuff
                                                                                     of history books,
                                                                                    a museum display,
                                                          at least a family heirloom.
                                                                        Preserving your memory
                                            into a cultural artifact but

                 you don’t know
                               that future anthropologists
                                             born in the time after the last days
                  study your texts to try to answer
                               questions like
                                            how are myths born?
                                                                        who gets to revise history?

                              Your writing gives answers
                to questions that you never delivered.

They fold in on you.
             Who was this new Ezra?
                                        A dedicated follower
                         or unreliable narrator?

             This time you don’t
get to control
             the story.




                    Ghost Marriage

I think seventeen is too young to    marry    die

but they still gave him a bride after his funeral.

They say dead presidents & Russian ballerinas

& North Korean leaders got a wedding invite.

Congratulations                              Condolences

to the newly wedded couple & widowed bride.

Note: on January 2, 1984, Heung Jin Moon died at age 17 after being in a car accident. On February 20, 1984, Hoon Sook “Julia” Pak married Heung Jin. Members believe that Heung Jin continues his ministry from heaven.


Reversed Moon

2 a.m. search history:

How does a crayfish_
How does a crayfish breathe?
How does a crayfish molt?
How does a crayfish know when it’s time to leave the water?

What I mean is, how do I stop being so yesnoyes?


It’s 2 a.m. and my search
history blurs so I cut
the deck in thirds; pick a card,
any card and draw a reversed moon.


Tonight I decide to finally leave;
see my shell glisten wet as I claw to shore,
antenna pointing moonward.
Good bye,
             good bye,



Header image courtesy of Joshua Zirschky. To view his Photographer Feature, go here.

Yoshika Wason is a teacher and writer. She earned her BA in English and secondary education from Boston College, where she was editor-in-chief of ASIAM, an Asian Pacific Islander American literary magazine. Her works have appeared in Ghost City Review, Ricepaper Magazine, Curator Magazine, and others. Yoshika is from Bridgeport, Connecticut and currently resides in Aomori Prefecture (Japan). Learn more at www.yoshikawason.com


Sam Preminger

Sam Preminger is a Portland-based poet. Their work has appeared throughout various publications and they hold an MFA from Pacific University.