Greetings from Japan

Greetings from Japan


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



I am learning about Japanese culture and the Japanese language through O.J.L.T. (On the Job Life Training).

I have visited several places. Each place having its own distinct energy. I can successfully navigate

my way around a restaurant, train station or bathroom. I have learned by trial and fire what not

to do in terms of my body language and without compromising the woman I am.



Greetings from Japan‏

By Anastacia Tolbert


oh mother moon looks like you’ve got a story to tell tell us. tell us at least half. light our eyes like stars—pause our busy & our blue rays. give us something to tell our neighbors. tell the news. tell our children. whisper one version here. one version there. let us come together & cipher it out the next day. let us all say i know . . . she told me too.

Having just witnessed a lunar eclipse in the heavens of Japan, I feel changed. It isn’t the kind of change that one would wear like a new scarf or sassy hat, nor is it the kind of change that happens rapidly like walking into a building in daylight and returning to a parked car in darkness. It is a simmering crock pot kind of change . . . or, picture the late 80’s when teen agers wore pleather jackets, penny loafers, and white socks and got in long lines and did the “tic.” One upward then downward motion of the hand and wrist slowly moving to the elbow, then the upper arm, then the neck and head, then miraculously to the next person. Yes. This is the kind of change I am speaking of. Crock pot 80s dance change.

Last I wrote I was still getting settled. If I told you that I was all settled, everything made sense and all was in perfect order I’d be the biggest blogger liar ever. What I can say is that I feel grounded. I feel less anxiety about NOT being settled. Most of my sad moments have to do with missing my comforts . . . have to do with me being a spoiled American. Has all to do with missing my family and friends. Has to do with not being able to communicate with strangers. Has to do with me not being able to visit my favorite café on the daily and not being able to hug a familiar face at least once a day. I am not settled but I am planted.

I am learning about Japanese culture and the Japanese language through O.J.L.T. (On the Job Life Training). I have visited several places. Each place having its own distinct energy. I can successfully navigate my way around a restaurant, train station or bathroom. I have learned by trial and fire what not to do in terms of my body language and without compromising the woman I am. I have—changed. I have worn others slippers and managed to put into perspective certain things I had an aversion to or didn’t understand fully. I have fallen in love with Tori Gates, Buddhist and Shinto temples, Japanese folklore, literature, herstory, and pride. I have grown accustomed to bathless bathrooms, tiny kitchens, and the most beautiful trees. I am fascinated by laundry and the story each garment blowing in the wind holds. I have learned to accept that streets are skinny and people on bikes are big. Fear of death is not a popular notion here. Fear at all is not a popular notion. I have changed. 

I need this talk of fear being what some call in the states false evidence of illusions appearing real. In my heart I want to be the woman on the bike zooming side by side a semi on a road no wider than a bowling lane fearlessly. (Okay so not really but you get it.)

I am entering a new chapter in my life. I remember being 21 wondering what kind of woman I’d be at 40. I remember I said I wanted to achieve the following: 1. Beauty inside and out 2.Career happiness 3. Traveling  4. Writing daily 5. Vegetarianism 6. An activist of some sort 7. Young looking 8. Great mom. If you asked me now what I want for myself at 40, some of those things on the list would definitely still be the same but I would add so much more. This whole 40 business has been simmering for a long time. Between welcoming in the New Year and welcoming a big birthday, my life to do list is as follows (certainly not a complete list yet):

Be present and mindful Celebrate/Honor/Value the people in my life (old and new) Move forward past pain and judgment Deepen my sense of joy Empty out the tiny residue of fear(s) Forgive Breathe cleansing breaths often Laugh more Drink more water Follow up with myself/love on myself the way I follow up/love on others Take time to sometimes see myself as a child of the universe not an adult of the world Hug more Receive love Verbalize my thoughts more Climb Mount Fuji

Travel Honor my writing time Read more books (all subjects) Yoga (Yes I still hate downward dog) Spend more time with the elders in my life. I need their wisdom. Spend more time with the teens/kids in my life. I need their wisdom. Dance more Not cut my hair for a year Less coffee (yea right) Meditate more Learn the Japanese language Recycle my own nuggets of wisdom Burn negative thoughts.

As you read this stand up and get in line. Get in your 80s teen mind frame. Get your arm ready for 2012. This tic’s for you. May it catch you and keep you until I write again. With love and gratitude for each of you.

Missing you fiercely, Anastacia     /

Anastacia Tolbert is a multifarious mix of grit, sunshine, alphabet juice & butterflies. She is a writer, performance artist, documentarian, teacher and workshop facilitator. She is a graduate of the Cave Canem program for African American poets and holds an undergraduate degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Anastacia’s poetry and prose have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Essence and San Diego City Beat, as well as in the anthologies Cave Canem XI,  Alehouse Journal, The Drunken Boat, Check the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets & Emcees (which was nominated for the 2007 NAACP Award), and I Woke Up and Put My Crown On: 76 Voices of African American Women. She has performed her poetry in more than fifty venues, including colleges, writers’ conferences, and art museums, and as a featured artist on six radio stations. Anastacia Tolbert Table

Baring My Soul

By Stacey Tolbert

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *





posted 1 January 2012




Home  Anastacia Tolbert Table  Guest Poets  

Related files  Kool Aid   Elvis at the dinner party   Breaking Down  Anatacia’s Lament  Baring My Soul   Fantasy Island   Sisters Who Hate Fast Food  Sonia’s Song  What’s Goin On  First Tour of Duty and Other Poems

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.