Lest We Forget the Walls of Our Past
THAT DAMNED FENCE
By Jim Yoshihara
They’ve sunk the posts, deep into the ground
They’ve strung out wires, all the way around.
With machine gun nests, just over there,
And sentries and soldiers everywhere.
We’re trapped like rats in a wired cage,
To fret and fume with impotent rage;
Yonder whispers the life of the night,
But that DAMNED FENCE in the floodlight glare.
We seek the softness of the midnight air,
But that DAMNED FENCE in the floodlight glare
Awaken unrest in our nocturnal quest,
And mockingly laughs with vicious jest.
With nowhere to go and nothing to do,
We feed terrible, lonesome and blue;
That DAMNED FENCE is driving us crazy,
Destroying our youth and making us lazy.
Imprisoned in here for a long, long time,
We know we’re punished tho we’ve committed no crime,
Our thoughts are gloomy and enthusiasm damp,
To be locked up in a concentration camp.
Loyalty we know and Patriotism we feel,
To sacrifice our utmost was our ideal,
To fight for our country, and die mayhap;
But we’re here because we happen to be JAP.
We all love life, and our country best,
Our misfortune to be here in the West,
To keep us penned behind that DAMNED FENCE,
Is someone’s notion of NATIONAL DEFENSE!!!!!!!
The Densho Digital Repository is an open online resource which chronicles the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans with photographs, documents, newspapers, letters and other primary resources. Densho credits this poem to Jim Yoshihara, written while incarcerated at Minidoka concentration camp in Idaho, c. 1940.