snails on Buddha

Two snails escape my hunt
Seeking shelter in Buddha’s arms.
A dilemma of my own reality
Of snail ravished lettuce leaves
Plays on Buddha’s Serenity.
Peace. Compassion. Love.

Poetry Month #4

Two of my favorite “quotes”

There is no poetry for the practical man. There is poetry only for the mankind of the man who spends a certain amount of his life turning the mechanical wheel. But let him spend too much of his life at the mechanics of practicality and either he must become something less than a man, or his very mechanical efficiency will become impaired by the frustrations stored up in his irrational human personality.
An ulcer, gentlemen, is an unkissed imagination taking its revenge for having been jilted. It is an unwritten poem, a neglected music, an unpainted water color, an undanced dance. It is a declaration from the mankind of the man that a clear spring of joy has not been tapped, and that it must break through, muddily, on its own.
- John Ciardi

Poems are not written to sing of the moon and flowers; they must speak of our hearts in response to the moon and flowers. We must never forget that in our hearts are the seeds of our poems. If we merely speak of the moon and flowers, poems become simply poetical forms, whatever the human heart may be. If these things become a part of ourselves, then we may admire them in verse.
- Okuman Kotomichi
   19th century


To my L.A. friends, please join me at the following conference. Will be giving a keynote address:

Genki Conference: noon-4:30 p.m.

April 27, 2014.

Venice Japanese Community Center
12448 Braddock Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90066

The Genki Conference is designed to help you live life to the fullest by addressing the eight dimensions of wellness: physical, occupational, financial, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental.
Caring for a loved one can be physically and emotionally challenging. But knowing what to do, what to expect, and who to depend on may help lighten the load on your shoulders. This conference offers tools and practical resources with compassion for current and future caregivers.
Keynote Presentations:

Family Dynamics in Caregiving
Christina Irving, Family Consultant, Family Caregiver Alliance
Are you caregiving from a long distance, thinking about having your parent move in with
you, or having to make decisions for your loved one? These are common issues many
caregivers go through which may create tension among other family members. Learn
how caregiving affects family dynamics and how you can communicate with family
members effectively.
Please note that the event will be filmed and /or photographed. By registering,
you agree that we may use your likeness to promote Keiro and its events and services.


I Am Somebody: Dignity in Caregiving
Frances Kakugawa, poet and author of eleven books, three on caregiving
Come for a poignant, inspirational session which will remind you that you are not alone. Glean wisdom from a seasoned caregiver who has dealt with some of the same experiences, feelings, and struggles that you do–and triumphed.
Noon–1:30 p.m. Registration
Lunch and Resource Fair
1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Program
 Mr.  Ms.  Mrs. Name:____________________________
E-mail address:_________________________________
Phone: _______________________________________
Registration Form
Please cut off and return
Genki Conference: Car egiver’s Ed ition
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Space is limited and reservations are required.
Please register by one of the following methods:
• Register online at http://www.keiro.org/genki-conference-registration
• Email kkusano@keiro.org with the subject “Conference
Registration”’ and include name, phone number, mailing address,
your first and second choices of breakout session, and indicate if
you would like consultations from an attorney or a pharmacist.
• Call (323) 980-2353
• Mail the form to:
Genki Conference: Caregiver’s Edition
325 Boyle Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90033
I would like a free consultation with a(n):
 Attorney  Pharmacist

Breakout Session (choose one):
1st Choice:  A  B  C  D 2nd Choice:  A  B  C  D
Breakout Session Topics Speakers Description:
A: Hands-On Caregiving
Barbara Fukuji, P.T. , Whittier Hospital Medical Center
Cheryl Nakagiri, P.T., DG Therapy Group
Myra Chang, O.T., Centinela Hospital Medical Center
Ali Kamada, P.T., Centinela Hospital Medical Center
Janis Ozaki, P.T., Centinela Hospital Medical Center
Learn how to assist your loved one safely
and comfortably.

B: Age in Place Kathleen Cole, OTR/L, CAPS, ECHM &
Shirley Nakaki, P.T., CAPS, ECHM
Home Accessibility Specialists & Partners in
Adapt=Ability, Solutions for Accessible Living
Learn how to make your home work for
you with a focus on safety, comfort and
convenience while embracing the concepts
of healthy aging.

C Options and Resources for
Long-Term Caregiving
Claudia Ellano-Ota, LCSW, Executive Director,
Caregiver Resource Center – Orange County
Learn what options are available for
long-term care and how much they cost.

D Health Care Reform
and You
Shawn Miyake, CEO, Keiro Senior HealthCare Learn how the Affordable Care Act impacts
you and our community.
FREE for All Attendees:

• Bento Lunch sponsored by an
anonymous donor
• Program
• Resource Fair
• Health Screenings by
• Free consultations with
estate planning attorneys and
pharmacists (available by
appointment only)

Win the all-new
2010 Honda
Civic Hybrid


Yes, I am now a columnist for the Hawai’i Herald! Read the intro to the first column by Hawai’i Herald:

Hawai’i Herald Columnist

…With this issue of The Hawai’i Herald, we welcome author, poet, teacher and seminar speaker Frances Kakugawa to our ‘ohana of monthly columnists. ..
…Frances was in Hawai’i last month to deliver several talks on writing and caregiving — she spoke on Oahu and in Hilo. We got together on a Saturday for a won ton mein lunch and sealed the deal on her penning a monthly “Dear Frances” column, sharing her perspectives on caregiving issues sent in by you, our readers. You can email your “Dear Frances” questions to me at kchinen@thehawaiihochi.com — or mail them to me the Herald: 917 Kokea St., Hon., HI 96817. I will forward your questions to Frances for her to answer in future editions of the Herald.

Omoiyari . . . Think of others first and good karma will return to you. — Frances H. Kakugawa


The first question discussed :

Dear Frances,
I am a caregiver for my mother-in-law. I’m having a difficult time because she treated me badly before she got ill. She never accepted me. And now I’m her caregiver. How can I deal with these thoughts of resentment and give her the care she needs? I can’t forget what she did.


Dear Jane:
We, both caregiver and the one being cared for, bring our own personal history to caregiving. I am very familiar with your feelings. As difficult as it is, it may be time to let that part of history go. See if you can be in the present and embrace your mother-in-law as a woman who needs your care, not as that woman who left you residues of negative feelings.

She may have no recollections of what she did. If you can do this in the spirit of humanity, with compassion and respect for who she is, a fellow human being, you may discover like many of us did, that rising to the occasion with love, compassion and dignity will bring peace and appreciation.
This disease will run its course no matter how we feel or behave, so for our own benefit, why not the positive so that at the end, we’re able to say, “I feel good about myself. I am a good human being, after all,’’ which often leads to that undefineable joy, for whatever we do to others, we do to ourselves. The gift of self is a powerful gift. Let me know if this works for you. Frances
The other two questions discussed are:

Dear Frances: I finally found adult care for my wife, but she refuses to go. How can I get her out of the house?


Dear Frances,
My friend’s mother has Alzheimer’s. What can I do to help her?

If you’d like to follow my column, subscription to the Hawai’i Herald can be made at the following:

Hawai’i Herald

$48 a year
$85 domestic airmail
Check to: The Hawai’i Herald
P.O. Box 17430
Honolulu, HI 96817-0430


Someday I will tell you the story of my dream of writing for a paper since grade school years and how I failed twice in my efforts in becoming one. And here, after all these years, the Hawai’I Herald is making that dream come true.


Dead Poets Alive


It was the dead who kept me alive
During all those years growing up
Confined in a village so isolated,
The only communication lines:
An unpaved road without cars,
A battery-run radio,
Three community telephones.


It was the dead who took me beyond
The catalogs of Sears and Montgomery Ward,
Dream-makers of that remote village
When one day I discovered an oracle
Within the pages of poets long gone,
Promising a wondrous world
For the me not yet formed.


Memorizing lines from “Thanatopsis,”
Recited Poe’s “Annabel Lee,”
Aching with Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s
“How Do I Love Thee?”
Dreaming in isolation
With Emily Dickinson.
Yes, Yes, I said.


Believing in Sara Teasdale’s
“Life has loveliness to sell,”
Impatient to meet those roads diverged
Knowing I could not travel both.
Fantasizing sinking a thousand ships
And becoming a phantom in delight,
Made me wish for two mornings a day.


It was the dead who gave me dreams
Forming the woman I would become
Long before I became.
But oh, how “I wandered
Lonely as a cloud.”


From Teacher You Look Like a Horse by Frances Kakugawa



Wrote this after another birthday…


The Autumn Moon Hangs


I am a poem
And I am ageless.


When I was one and twenty
I spoke of lingering sunsets into night,
Envying that solitary bird flapping vigorously,
Racing the sinking sun at end of day.


Decades and one later
I am still poem.
I am that sunset, sinking into the sea.
That golden leaf, waiting for that last gentle breeze.
I am that Autumn moon hanging
Over crayoned fields, now free of summer harvest,
Waiting for the last flight home.

I am still poem.
I am ageless.


    ©Frances Kakugawa





Dear Robert Browning,
You almost failed me in Speech 100 eons ago. I grew up wanting to be your great love, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I memorized her How Do I Love Thee and wished at age 15 to find a Robert Browning somewhere. I took you to college with me and recited the following poem in class. Great disaster. I should have taken Robert Frost.

  Robert Browning
“Home-Thoughts, From Abroad”

Oh, to be in England,
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England – now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows –
Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge –
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower,
- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

The professor was a descendent of Joseph Smith; he was also called Joseph Smith and seemed as ancient as the original. I stood up in class and began reciting your poem…

“Oh, to be in England, now that Spring is there…

Professor Smith stood up and shouted: Stop! Stop! Stop! Miss Kakugawa, where did you spend your childhood?
Me: timidly: Kapoho
Professor Smith: Do you ever feel homesick for Kapoho?
Me: still timidly: yes
Professor Smith: What time of day do you miss Kapoho?
Me: trembling: when the sun is setting.
Professor Smith, suddenly a Shakespearean actor with a voice that burst into the hallway, shouted with arms spread-eagled:
“ Oh, to be in Kapoho, when the sun is setting!!!”
(I was too scared to laugh.)
“All right, Miss Kakugawa, change England to Kapoho and let’s hear you again.”

My defiant nature kicked timid out and with heartbeats seeming louder than my voice, I filled the room, not quite the hallway, with your poem. Robert Browning, I failed Speech 100, but it wasn’t because of you. It’s another story told in my Kapoho book.



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