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My Bloody Tongue

The doctor walked me out the door and said, “People your age are in nursing homes.”

I  bit my tongue and didn’t say, “I escaped.”

 

During another visit with a doctor, we exchanged book titles as we usually do and checked on  what books were on our nightstand. She looked at the jacket cover of my new Echoes of Kapoho and asked, “Were you alive?”

I bit my tongue and didn’t say, “No, I’ve been dead for awhile.”

 

Sales clerks, in their efforts to be friendly often compliment me  with, “Your English is very good.” I bite my tongue and don’t say, “Thank you, it means a lot since English is my 9th language.”

 

Or to those who ask, “Where were you born?” I bite my tongue and don’t say, “On planet earth just like you.”

 

Once I didn’t bite my tongue and felt clever all night. At a political rally, a candidate walked over to ask me, “Is your husband here?”

“Oh, I’m not married,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Oh, but I’m not” I said.

He stood there stunned at my response and silently walked away. It was a good thing I wasn’t the candidate because I would have lost a vote right there.

So, what will it be, a bloody tongue or silence.

Come share yours.

 

 

( I posted this when Trump was elected. Here it is again with one edit.)

There will be no haiku poems on Trump for the next four years in respect for Basho, Issa, and all the Japanese haiku poets who found beauty, elegance, inspiration, meaning and simple joy in nature, people and our universe and who sought and found the most select language ever available to share this with us. But…I will still write non-haiku, loosely written verses:
Trump
The gigantic kite soars
Toward the hot orange sun
Deaf to voices from Icarus’ flight,
Deaf to our Fathers whose wisdom, ignored,
He hurtles down and buries
The country in black ash.

It seems appropriate that my first poem that came to be written is for caregivers who, without recognition, are saving our future generations with their humanity.

 

Imperfections

 

We dance the imperfect dance.

We trip over our toes,

Waltzing to the Samba.

 

Four step trot or Cha Cha Cha

It’s still the 1 2 3 step

To whatever plays the music.

 

Perfect in our imperfections.

We miss doctor’s appointments,

Wash yesterday’s dishes today.

 

We leave towels in the washer

Stiff and dry, unlike ads from Downy,

In the morning after.

 

We are so perfect in our imperfections,

There is green fluffy mold atop yogurt,

Wilted lettuce, dehydrated onions –

 

That no longer bring  tears.

Spam and  Campbell soup cans

Expired dates like former Exes.

 

We take our screams

To the tangerine trees

Who spread their branches knowingly

 

Offering us fruits beyond expectations.

We are caregivers,

Perfect in our imperfections.

 

FHK January 4, 2020

 

 

wm ww

Dear William Wordsworth,

A friend visited your home recently and brought back photos of where you wrote your poetry. I, too, am named Wordsworth and I, too, write poetry. Not in an English home such as yours, but in my little mouse hole in Hawaii. Yes, I am a mouse poet.

The 21st century must seem unimaginable compared to your life in the 1700-1800’s.

And yet, Mr. Wordsworth, our poems cross all centuries. Your poem below still speaks of the need to preserve our natural environment, otherwise what images will poets see on a lonely walk? Concrete?

”I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils.”

Contrary to your poem, my poems speak of preserving what was so natural in your century. Mr. Wordsworth, there will be no daffodils in our world soon.

The Bulldozer

there was a place I sat and wrote

to music played in my concert grove.

 

branches rubbed against branches,

coconuts dropped to the ground.

vines snaked and squeaked their way

seeking the hot noon sun.

 

frilly fronds danced the wind,

lacy limbs brushed their leaves.

sparrows, mynahs spattered notes

low c’s, high c’s and in-between.

 

it was a place for violins, cellos,

trombones, flutes, and  piccolos, too.

Oh, what music to my ears.

Then the monster came.

 

gachump!

gachump!

gachump!

he gobbled up notes

oh, what a beast.

he chomped and crushed,

grunted and groaned,

belched and gobbled

everything in sight.

 

oh, what a monster,

oh what a beast

to eat my trees.

to eat my trees.

Wordsworth fell asleep thinking, “Gachump, Gachump.”

from Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer!

It is an honor bearing your name, Mr. Wordsworth.

Aloha,

Wordsworth the mouse poet.

 

 

 

A Kapoho Christmas

A Kapoho Christmas

 

It was Christmas without lights.

It was Christmas without indoor plumbing.

It was Christmas without carolers at the window

Muffed and warm under falling snow.

 

But there was Christmas.

 

A Christmas program at school

The Holy Night reenacted:

White tissue paper glued on spines of coconut  fronds

Shaped as angel wings and haloes.

Long white robes, over bare feet.

 

The plantation manager with bagfuls of assorted hard candies

His annual role in the village where he reigned.

Fathers in Sunday best

After a hard day’s work in sugar cane fields.

Mothers in dresses fashioned after Sears catalogs.

Children, restless, on wooden benches,

Waiting for Santa’s jolly Ho Ho Ho.

 

A fir tree from the hills,

Needles not lasting 24 hours.

Chains from construction paper,

Origami balls and strands of tin-foiled tinsel.

Kerosene and gas lamps

Moving shadows on the walls.

 

It was not the Christmas of my dreams.

No carolers at the window,

Singing Silent Night, Holy Night.

No large presents under a real Christmas tree

No fireplaces and rooftop chimneys.

No blue-eyed boy handing me hot chocolate.

 

For 18 years, the true Christmas

Lived in my head until Madame Pele

Came to my rescue

And buried our kerosene lamps.

 

Finally! I said, without a backward glance,

Running out fast in bare feet

On unpaved roads

To the Christmas of my dreams.

 

From Echoes of Kapoho by Frances Kakugawa

Watermark Publishing 2019

In my world…

Yesterday the line to the post office was so long,  I returned this morning. I waited in line for about 15 minutes. Walking out, I opened the door for a frail woman and man with walkers. They were leaving because of the long line. They had two packages in the basket of their walker. I offered to wait in line for them while they sat in the car. The man refused my offer while his wife looked at me with a smile.

He wanted those address labels so he could mail his packages elsewhere because of the line.I noticed his packages weren’t addressed. I thought of writing the address for them but respected his wishes. I went to the counter and told a teller, using a loud voice that made people in line look at me, “There are two handicapped people out there. I offered to wait in line for them but all they want are address labels which I can’t find anywhere. Do you have these labels?”

One teller just said, “We don’t have any.” Another teller said, “WE have them” and she gave me a stack of these labels. By then the elderly man had come in saying he can’t wait in line; he only wants those labels. I gave him the stack of labels. His wife came to tell me with tears, “You are a very kind person.” I touched her hand and wished her a good holiday. In my world, someone first in line would have given his/her space to the couple.

Yesterday I went to UC Davis hospital to get a test. I had in print, instructions to get someone at Information to escort me to Pulmonary because of its complicated location. The man at Info  told me abruptly, “No one’s here, just go left and right.” I took my pen out and said, “I’m instructed to have an escort but I will write your directions down.” He was rude and repeated, “Just go left and right.” A worker offered to escort me there.

Then she got confused with the bad signs along the long hallways and didn’t know which elevator to take. Another worker came and showed me the way. In conversing with the Pulmonary technician, I ended up agreeing to speak at their conference on Compassion in the Workplace next September at the hospital. The technician escorted me to down to the entrance. In my world, people who work with patients don’t need such a conference.

 

 

Echoes of Kapoho

Thank you, Christine Reed of Basically Books of Hilo, Hawaii for hosting a book talk/signing for my new Echoes of Kapoho. The Reed family has hosted all 15 of my books with the first poetry book in 1970. A gratitude of applause to  Big Islanders for shopping local at Basically Books.

Kapoho Reed and me