A new Anthology

I’m honored and humbled to be included in this anthology published by the

Human and Nature Center: University of Chicago Press. Five of my poems appear

throughout the book. The Human and Nature Center is an inspiring organization working on

preserving our human and natural resources.

My publisher, Watermark Publishing, is having a big December book sale for the holidays. Several of my books are included, so you can get 30% off my memoir books and 35% off my Alzheimer’s caregiving books. Shop online at www.bookshawaii.net and use code HOLIDAY2020 to get the deals.

Also, for those of you who want to try your hand at memoir writing, my publisher has launched a new program called Hali‘a Aloha (it means “cherished memories” in Hawaiian). If you already have a memoir in progress, this is a good way to fix it up and have it published. If you don’t have anything written, the self-guided program will take you from blank page to finished book in about nine months.

The series editor, Darien Hsu Gee, and my publisher said that my memoir writing in Kapoho and Echoes of Kapoho was a perfect example of the types of short “micro-memoir” work the program is built on, so they asked to use excerpts from my books to create an example of a finished Hali‘a Aloha book. It’s called The Kindergarten Dropout of Kapoho. If you already have Kapoho or Echoes of Kapoho, you don’t need to buy this one (everything in it is in Echoes), but it is a good, small gift item! You can buy at Bookshop.org or you can buy a special set that includes my book and the two other first books in the series from Watermark’s website.

The Hali‘a Aloha program has an introductory special going on where if you sign up and use the code HALIA2020 you can get $250 off the Basic Package and $500 off the Signature Package. You can learn more about the program at www.haliaaloha.net. (Darien used a lot of advice from me about writing in her book, Writing the Hawaii Memoir, and you get a copy of that book included when you enroll in the Hali‘a Aloha program.)

A Salute to Veterans

November is also Alzheimer’s month

A Salute to Patrick at Punchbowl Cemetery (A Military Burial)

                     The soldiers stood cemented to the grassy ground

                     Like statues, while Buddhist sutras filled the air.

                     Movement would dishonor the man who once stood

                     In his uniform, like his comrades today.

                     The three – gun salute, the wailing taps,

                     The precision of the folding of the flag,

                     A salute purified by white gloves

                     For the presentation of the symbolic flag.

                     Each step of ultimate precision, a tribute to dignity,

                     Honor and respect for the fallen soldier,

                     From the country whom he had served

                     With love, dignity and honor.

                     Whatever Alzheimer’s had stolen from him,

                     All was returned to him today.

                     Whatever memories, forgotten,

                     The country that he loved, remembered.

                     A final rest in peace.

                                                     Frances H. Kakugawa

Half a Butterfly

Sometimes, even a poem cannot capture a significant image . So this is a poem of that poem that cannot be written:

Half a butterfly

On concrete walk,

So significant a sight,

Yet not a metaphor

Comes to mind.

Forgive me, wing,

For my inadequacy.

Frances 10-22-20

Book Award

Thank you, NCPA, Northern CA Publishers/Authors for awarding the Best in Non-Fiction memoirs award to my Echoes of Kapoho book.

Echoes of Kapoho  begins with Frances’ tales of  kerosene lamp-lit evenings, big-city hopes and dreams stirred by Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs – a place now under lava.

But Echoes goes beyond  to new adventures  in life and love and becoming

Blessed with a vivid imagination, a passion for writing and a penchant for forbidden books, and raised amid the anti-Japanese fervor of wartime Hawai’i, Frances yearned to escape her childhood home of Kapoho to become an author. With the help of the Goddess of Kilauea Volcano, she escapes to tell her story after Kapoho is buried twice. Part One returns to childhood stories of kerosene lamp-lit evenings, outhouses and dreams stirred by books and Sears catalogs. Part two takes Frances out of Kapoho into adventures in life, love and becoming.

There is so much dialogue on how to educate our children. Let’s pause and think of how they can educate us. I wrote this letter to 5 year old Alan Goff in Jackson, Michigan, after he became an adult.

Dear Alan,

You were in kindergarten when we first met. I walked out of that

airplane on a hot blistering August Michigan day. I saw you,

a serious little five-year-old boy, waiting for me with a bunch of assorted

gladiolus in your arms. I recognized you from a snapshot your

mother had sent. You came to me and said, “Aloha, Frances.”

Your mother and I were also meeting for the first time. We

were pen pals since the seventh grade, so we practically grew up

together although miles apart. I lived with you and your family

during my year of teaching in Jackson, distinguished by being the

only Japanese person in the community and, for many, the first Japanese

they ever saw. Reactions were widespread from the minister

who blocked my path to offer me citizenship to your dad’s mother

who did not welcome me in her home.

I met you again, so to speak, when I had finished my year of

teaching and was returning to Hawai‘i. You said to me,“You don’t

look different anymore.” “Oh,” I asked, “how do I look?” “Well,”

you said, “you look like Frances!”

I have thought of that night, and often wonder, can all of

our prejudices and fears of the unknown turn us to our humanity

with something so simple as getting to know each other? Should

we keep our first impressions of others whose customs, appearances

and language appear strange until we are able to say, “You look like

you.” Thank you, Alan.

Love, Frances

from my book Echoes of Kapoho

Brag Time

This is brag time , counter to how I was raised. My mother always said that if any bragging is to be done, let others brag about you. Be humble. My mother failed. Look! My letter appeared in today’s NY Sunday Times, in response to last week’s story on the Rainier cherries  in the State of Washington. I highly recommend that story. There were three other letters in addition to mine.NYT letter



A Mug of Winter in August

Some folks love Spring,

New faces in morning glories,

Cotton blouses and green toe nails.

Winter scarves stuffed into cedar chests.


Some folks love Fall.

The season of sounds.


Summer…I hate summers

In three digit Sacramento heat.


I brought Winter back today:

A mug of Winter –

Hot steamy cocoa –

While the city burned outside.




August 6, 2020


We sliced the chrysanthemum

Off its stalk

And let it naked in the sun.

My parents did not hear from any of their families after that day.

In 1989, Noriyo and her family moved to Hawaii from Hiroshima. Her grandmother  was exposed to the radiation as a child, and was now ridden with cancer throughout her body. Her physician had recommended the mild climate of Hawaii. Noriyo entered my third grade class:

44 Years Later

a dark mushroom cloud

follows me across the Pacific

into my classroom.


forgive us, Noriyo,

for Hiroshima

and Nagasaki.


Voice from the Unborn (excerpts)


You promised me, eons ago,

 A world, free of battlefields, soldiers, children

Abandoned  in fear and hunger.

You offered me Hope, again and again.

A world, you said, where we will stand

Hand in hand, beyond  color, religion, gender, age,

 One race. One humanity.

My brothers and sisters who believed you

Are now old men and women, and they wait.

They wait.

Nagasaki, they said, was the start of Peace.

Listen to my voice, your unborn child.

Eons ago, you sliced the chrysanthemum

Off  its stalk and left it

Naked in the sun.


Over the ashes of Hiroshima,

Our victory was hailed.

Beneath that, my ancestors lay buried.


Stop using me, your unborn child

For promises and meaningless  rhetoric.

The future is now.  I can’t wait any longer.

The future is now.  I want to be  born.

Today.  In Peace.