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By Amy Uyematsu

So by sixteen we move in packs

learn to strut and slide

in deliberate lowdown rhythm

talk in a syn/co/pa/ted beat

because we want so bad

to be cool, never to be mistaken

for white, even when we leave

these rowdier L.A. streets—

remember how we paint our eyes

like gangsters

flash our legs in nylons

sassy black high heels

or two inch zippered boots

stack them by the door at night

next to Daddy’s muddy gardening shoes.


Amy Uyematsu, "Deliberate" from Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain, published by Story Line Press.  Copyright © 1997 by Amy Uyematsu.  Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Nights of Fire Nights of Rain (Story Line Press, 1997)

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Poet Bio

Amy Uyematsu
Amy Uyematsu grew up in southern California. Her poetry grows out of the conflict between her wish to belong to the culture around her and her strong sense of ethnic identity — like many Japanese Americans during World War II, her parents and grandparents were interned. A high school math teacher, she has published three collections: 30 Miles from J-Town; Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain; and Stone Bow Prayer. See More By This Poet

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