Steve Sasaki is a traffic engineer by profession. He is also a writer, poet and an actor . He lives in Laguna Beach, California.
NOTE: The poem “From the Inside Out” was written during the “Literature and Art of Cinema Workshop” held at the 2014 Silent River Film Festival. The poem was inspired by the feature film Boiling Pot, which screened at the Silent River Film Festival 2014 in Irvine, California. The story reveals racial tensions in modern America. The film is directed by Omar Ashmawey and written by Ibrahim and Omar Ashmawey.
From the Inside Out
I’ve paid my debt to society so they say
Now a free man, but I’m not so sure.
When I hit baseballs for a living
the colors I hated were red, green, and especially pin stripes of the other team.
If we were teammates, sure we fought, but as brothers
Not as, others.
And some when traded were still brothers for life.
It was in prison where I learned to hate a man for the color
of his skin. All our uniforms were the same.
Right or wrong, separation was the way to survive.
I played the game in prison, but never bought into the rules.
An ugly time. Worse than imagined.
Never had to use or think about the word, until I was inside
Then to keep some, it endangered my life
Worth it, I guess.
And now, I’m considered free.
For me, it only applied before lock and key.
Still paying my debt
A high one. Lasting.
Taking a bat and using it wrongly,
defending my team, my mates, after a few drinks.
No one f****d with us, black, white, or brown.
I hardly remember which of us were there, black, white, or brown.
It was a late night wrong, I was going to make right.
Never should have gone to the trunk of my car.
But that’s the past.
A decade or two gone by
Who can remember?
I’m a changed man
And not for the better
We were grown men playing a child’s game,
shunning others, only for how they acted.
But inside the prison bars they play for keeps.
Gone are the days when only the color of their uniform mattered.
I never should have gone to the trunk.
I hope to know next life
what a gift I had.
Seeing things from the inside out,
As a human.
And a ballplayer.
Now aware, if I were raised by wolves
then humans would be a threat, even if I were one.
They say I’m free now.
But I don’t feel so free, anymore.
NOTE: The prose poem “Marilyn” was written during the “Literature and Art of Cinema Workshop” held at the 2014 Silent River Film Festival. The poem was inspired by the short film Story of M, which screened at the Silent River Film Festival 2014 in Irvine, California. The Story of M is about a girl who dreams of being Marilyn Monroe. The film is directed and written by Anna Arlanova.
Marilyn aka, Norma is such a dope. She’s not stupid, but I guess when a guy drugs you it’s tough to have all your wits about you, but she ruined our plans… or at least put them on hold. A hold almost as long as the lines here.
She does know photography so when she says the pictures were incredible, inspired, I’ll have to take her word for it. Still I’m sure the drug and her obsession, played a role in her being too trusting.
Her father cried when he heard the news. What a loser. He’s the one who created this mess with everything Marilyn, Marilyn, Marilyn, even naming her Norma Jeane – then he cries when something happens. I swear, vodka makes men stupid.
I was probably too hard on her but she has to learn a lesson, right? And who better to give it, than her best friend. She can’t afford to be “doomed to repeat the past.” Not now. Not with what’s coming up.
And she’s smart enough to know – she got me through chemistry and calculus.
But, what will she do without me? Unfortunately, the real Marilyn didn’t survive but hopefully Norma will… She better, or I’ll kill her.
From this point forward it’s going to be so weird. I’m excited and scared at the same time. It’s like half a dream about to come true.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s never count on plans. Some say, plans make God laugh but I say… even the Universe doesn’t know until the moment arrives. How could the Universe make advanced plans with so many jerks, like Mr. Photo Dude, roaming the earth?
Yes, he took her money, but there’s no way I’m going to turn our dream over to some criminal. I’m stubborn that way. We and the Universe are going to adjust – work it out. In fact I already have… at least started.
Sure it sucks it’s not going to work out how we hoped, but Norma and me, we have the real thing. We’ll be fine, no matter what.
… I can’t wait to see her face. It’s going to be such a scene. She’ll say, no… Refuse. Get mad.
But, I’m going to say, “It’s your fault. If you spent more time working and a little less sewing those dresses, then we wouldn’t be in this position.”
She’s going to be insulted by my words but will also know, she’s the one who screwed up.
And what choice did I have? If I went first and waited for her, she’d never get the money together – then she’d truly be lost in her Marilyn world, forever. At least this way I’ll have control.
So, I bought her plane ticket to America today – with my money – money saved for my ticket.
It’s actually perfect. She can never pull it together for herself, but this way she’ll be doing it for me and nothing will stop her from succeeding.
Plus my Uncle will help her get settled, but not too much because he’s not that nice.
Overall, I think she’ll fit in better there than here; I’ve heard there’re a lot of weird people in Hollywood, which should be perfect.
She might even get a job being Marilyn. My uncle says the tourist love to see people dressed up like dead celebrities, so who knows?
I believe the Universe will eventually know, and in the meantime the next right thing is for Norma Jeane to go to America.