Dear John Letter

 Am having problems posting…a new page jumbles up all my lines…grrrrrr…..

A good friend received a two-line Dear John letter. How to send comfort? I sent him two poems written during my youth.

Dear John







From six separate pages

Of Webster’s Third,

A death more brutal

Than iron and steel.

From The Path of Butterflies by frances kakugawa

A Poem Speaks

I am poem…

Mender of broken souls…

I file the edges of jagged nails,

Torn and clawed by human toil.

I take the salt from human tears

And wash out human pain.

I flow the blood caked deep

Beneath each punctured wound.

I take the weary off their feet,

Washing sand grains between toes.

Come, my child, and walk my shores…

I am poem, mender of human souls.

©Frances Kakugawa

I will be making my first visit to offer a caregiving workshop session on Maui next month. For those of you on Maui (or with family or friends there who could use some insight), please consider attending. Thank you to Lynsey and the Maui chapter of the Alzheimers Association for inviting me.

May 23, 2015 |  9am to 11am
Hale Mahaolu Elima Community Hall | 11 Mahaolu St. Kahului, Maui
(Please park in unnumbered stalls or outside of the housing facility along the road.)
For more information call Lynsey 242-8636 or Kathleen 871-5804

Refreshments provided for attendees
Open to the public. No reservation required.


I wrote the following to honor a teenager who stopped by my book signing in Honolulu.

A Stranger Among Us

Three young lads walk the mall

Passing my book signing at Barnes & Noble.

One lad breaks away

After turning his head

Toward the book display

On a tripod near me.

“What kind of book is this?

Did you write this?”

“Yes,” I say to the lad

Wearing a tiny hoop in one lobe,

A silver stud in his nose.

“This is a book of poems on caregiving.”

“I write poems, too. I set them to music.

Do you want to hear one of my poems?”

He rapped his poem in perfect rhythm,

Musical rhymes, poignantly searching

For the meaning of life.

I open my book to offer him

My simple poem, “A Poet’s Declaration.”

He reads it, looks at me and quietly says,

“You’re the first person who understands me.”

We talk of how it is

To be a poet…

The aloneness, the pain, the joy.

“No one knows me as you do.”

He hands me Mosaic Moon,

I sign it To Jason.

“Dammit,” I think, after he leaves

To join his two companions

With my book in his hand…

“How did one poem from a stranger

Help him feel there is someone after all,

Who knows and understands him?

How did he recently leave

Thirteen years of school behind him,

A lonely stranger?

frances kakugawa

We turned into poets in all of my classes, grades K-6 during my teaching career. Robert Webster was a sixth grader at Nimitz Elem in Hawaii. One day, I watched him write the last line to a poem. Beads of perspiration rolled down his nose. He dropped his pen and I heard him whisper, “ I’m all poemed out.”

Here’s an excerpt from one of his poems.

“Writing is wonderful.

It is a thing that can make the dumb speak,

The deaf to hear, and the blind to see.

Writing can bring out true emotions

That we usually don’t see,

And it brings out our true selves…”

The rest of this poem appears in my book, Teacher, You Look Like a Horse. Robert helped to write the last chapter with a few other students. They were all adults then, but still listened to their teacher when I asked them for help.  Robert never left. After sixth grade, he stayed in touch through high school and college and now as a father to three sons with wife Erica.

I have lunched with Robert and his family in New York City twice and the poetry man is still there. How wonderful to have a poetry man for a dad.

Here are three poems from the next generation of Websters, written by son Samuel when he was eight years old.


Me and My Cat

Tommy loves it

When I scratch him under

His chin.

You can sleep in my bed,


Do you want to read with me,


Now this is relaxing!



Sunny Day

Today I woke up

On a sunny day.

I went to my friend’s house

On that sunny day.

I played throw and catch

At my friend’s house

Until it was dark

On that sunny day.




Crazy, cute

Running, climbing, swinging

Eating, jumping, sleeping

Bananas, trees, vines

Hairy, agile


©Samuel Charles Webster

8 years old

Guilderland, New York


Wordsworth continues to smile

I walked into the office of my new dentist last year in Sacramento and imagine my surprise to see Shelly at the front desk. We last saw each other when she was about five. Her mother , my cousin’s wife, brought her to my first book  signing in Hilo, HI. I remember Shelly because somewhere, there’s a photo of her, a young child,  holding a copy of my book of poems, Sand Grains. Well, guess what. Here are two poems written by her two sons. Shelly’s mom and I are claiming, “It’s the Kakugawa blood” but that’s up for debate.


I Am Poem


I am shy and quiet

I wonder what my future would be like

I hear water hitting the ground

I see giant buildings in the sky

I am shy and quiet

I pretend to fly through the sky

I feel soft clouds

I touch ripped up leaves

I worry when my brother is alone

I cry when me and my brother fight

I am shy and quiet

I understand to not use violence

I say I could pass all my obstacles

I dream when I sleep at night

I try to accomplish my goals

I hope I have a good future

I am shy and quiet.

©Lars Cabuco

15 years old

Roseville, CA


I Am Poem


I am happy and nice

I wonder what my brother is doing

I hear a monster growling

I see a flying ghost

I want a charm

I am happy and nice

I pretend to never mess up

I feel very shy

I touch a sandstone

I worry about falling behind,

I cry when I fall behind

I am happy and nice

I understand my mom is very tired

I say I can fall behind

I dream of the world’s gravity

I try to work hard

I hope I never fall behind

I am happy and nice.


©Bourne Rizal Cabuco

9 years old

Roseville, CA



“Do young children write poetry at all in this age of electronics?” This was one of the questions asked on Hawaii Public Radio when I was interviewed for my 3rd children’s book on Wordsworth the mouse poet who is empowered by writing poetry.

I didn’t need to think. “Yes!” I said.

I wish the poet/ children I’m featuring this month were there.

Their poetry would have supported my answer quite eloquently and convincingly. Today, meet Tara. We have met only through Wordsworth and her poetry.

Tara is seven years old. Her mother wrote: Tara and I picked up Wordsworth again last night–and Tara was inspired to write some more poems that she wanted to share with you.  She is seven now.

The wind and sky, the ground and earth 

will spin

at a tornado’s birth.

With angels in puffy clouds

dancing on their tippy tippy toes,

with one little step

they will go.

Away and away they go.



A sea will crash on a silver beach

leaving the seashells behind.

The fish will splash and listen 

to the breeze the ocean left behind.

The fish will follow the breeze.

And away and away they go.



One little seed

One little plant

One little flower

That will grow content.

The leaves will spread

and body grow.

That will go down its stem

and grow grow grow.

                     ©Tara H

                      Age 7


I wrote to Tara:

I read your poems aloud over and over and felt myself flying above the clouds.
The clouds are white today in California so it’s a perfect day for soaring and your
poems became my wings. I’m dancing, Tara, I’m flying.

When Tara was six years old, her mother sent me the following:


Dear Frances,

Your gifts to me and my family keep giving, and Wordsworth keeps inspiring!  I wanted to share with you….

I don’t know how I had missed it, but I had….The other night, Tara and I opened Wordsworth for our nightly snuggle and there was your beautiful Haiku to Tara and Zoe.  I was so touched by it, and I believe Tara was ever more inspired.

Tara wanted to share a few of the poems with you:


Flower on the sidewalk

you will grow

with grace and beauty


Leaf you can grow

as big as a tree


Flower you can grow 

as fast as 

a waiting poem

              ©Tara H

              Age 6

I wrote to Tara’s mother:

In Hawaii we say we get “chicken skin ” when we meet up with something that leave us speechless.
I got chicken skin, just sitting here reading Tara’s poems over and over. That last verse is simply beautiful…
“as fast as a waiting poem.”

Our planet got a bit stronger…
and Wordsworth is here, grinning away.








The poets, in droves

lick their pens, salivating

over metaphors, turning

Death into Life. It must be

National Poetry Month


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