Volume 33, Number 4

Yoshi Hattori

His year abroad in Baton Rouge
began a year before
my first classes at Ibadai.

Like many Japanese students
he was friendly towards America
and enjoyed its popular culture.

The night of his first Halloween party
he dressed up like John Travolta
in Saturday Night Fever,

walked to the wrong address,
knocked on the door of the wrong house.
Where’s the party? he asked the wrong man.

Back in Japan people soon learned
an unfamiliar meaning
of the man’s hair-trigger cry: Freeze!

Months later another shock
from Japanese news reports:
Castle doctrine. Not guilty…

Whenever my students would ask
certain things—Do you own many guns?
Have you ever been shot?—

it seemed as though Yoshi Hattori
had whispered to them, seemed
their questions politely veiled

what was already
and bitterly known
about American ways.

That boy. That boy.
Near the same age as my students.
He would have been forty-seven this year.

—Yoshihiro “Yoshi” Hattori, 1975–1992

—Mark Zimmermann