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In Response to Executive Order 9066


Dwight Okita

A little background information in order for you to understand this poem;

During World War II, once we had declared war on Japan, an executive order was given for all Japanese Americans to report to internment camps, where they were forced to live as prisoners, in terrible living conditions, for years. They had done nothing; yet people were afraid that they would spy on America for Japan. These people were perfectly ordinary Americans, and ironically, a lot of Japanese-Americans were fighting on our side on the field of battle while their relatives were imprisoned in these camps. Anyway, I've always been interested in what is now known as the Japanese-American Internment, and when I read this poem, it just tore me up.

Dear Sirs:
Of course I'll come. I've packed my galoshes
and three packets of tomatoe seeds. Janet calls them
'love apples.' My father says where we're going
they won't grow.

I am a fourteen-year-old girl with bad spelling
and a messy room. If it helps any, I will tell you
I have always felt funny using chopsticks
and my favorite food is hot dogs.
My best freind is a white girl named Denise--
we look at boys together. She sat in front of me
all through grade school because of our names:
O'Conner, Ozawa. I know the back of Denise's head very well.
I tell her she's going bald. She tells me I copy on tests.
We're best freinds.

I saw Denise today in Geography class.
She was sitting on the other side of the room.
"You're trying to start a war," she said, "giving secrets away
to the Enemy. Why can't you keep your big mouth shut?"
I didn't know what to say.
I gave her a packet of tomatoe seeds
and asked her to plant them for me, told her
when the first tomatoe ripens
to miss me.

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