In my hometown is a man I have come to know via the local poetry circuit.

Upon first noticing Masayuki Tanabe about 20 years ago, part of a small group of poets who met once a month in a cafe, I was struck by how sad he seemed. He was so very withdrawn, and when it was his turn to present his poems, he sometimes asked someone else to read them for him. Eventually he read his own, but quietly and barely looking up.

I didn’t realize at the time, but he and I shared something in common: we had both been traumatized by years of bullying at school. These kind of experiences manifest in myriad ways and echo down through the years. For some of us, there comes an event, or series of events, that help to heal past hurts.

Today, Masayuki is a cheerful, generous and open person. He smiles easily, is happily married and is a prolific poet. His main topics are social issues such as war & strife, the environment and poems of love for his wife.

His most recent poem, below, is one of several in which I’ve witnessed Masayuki’s deep thoughts about the past and how he has come to terms with his scars and moved on. This is a remarkable piece of writing – to my mind, cathartic in itself.



10 years ago

These were some of the words

In my journal

“Mr. Bully because of you

I am always black and blue

Because of you my soul is gushing blood

Like it has been gutted

Because of you I am terrified

To get an education

Because of you my nights

Are plagued with nightmares

About you beating me to a pulp

And urinating on me

In the school yard”

But I am no longer that horrified kid

Who constantly handed you

His lunch money

And dreamed of the ultimate revenge

With an AR 15

I am a hyacinth that has triumphantly

Emerged from the dirt

I am a man who only fears the Lord

I have a wife whose inner

And outer beauty

Is unparalleled

I have myriad wonderful friends

I have a job that I love

I am truly living

I am no longer consumed

By the inferno of hatred for you

I wish you all the best

I pray for you every day

I pray for your rebirth in prison

I pray that you vanquish

The demons of the past

That horrifically torture you

In your sleep

Like me you did not deserve

The insane cruelty inflicted upon you

I pray that you decide

To stop being a victim

I ceased being one

With God’s help

I now consider myself a survivor

I forgive you

I pray that you do the same

For your abuser

I pray that we meet in heaven

Someday you will be with Jesus

In Elysium

If you choose to walk

In the radiant light of redemption.