Happy New Year Haiku

New Year Haiku, 2021

( apologies…I can’t post this haiku with the right spacing no matter how many times I tried…)

   Kadomatsu greets

   America, ah, blessings

   from eastern wind, yes.///

   three immovable

   bamboo, roped and held for strength

   yet, fragile in wind.  ///


   green pine from knotted,

   snarled fingers of a bonsai,

   a thousand year life///

   ‘neath symbolic greens

   the Emperor’s golden sunburst,

   a chrysanthemum///

   such blessings, New Year,

   from simple pine and bamboo.

   a happy new year.

      Frances Kakugawa 2021

My make-shift kadomatsu from my limited Sacramento yard.

Thank you, Readers

Thank you, dear Blog readers, for your loyal support of my blog. Please know I’m most appreciative of your devoted friendship. Here is my “worse than fruitcake” holiday letter.

2020  pulled a fast one over me. When it came in as Year of the Rat, and my being born in the Year of the Rat, I expected a super wondrous year. You are on your way out, 2020,  leaving us a pandemic unimaginable. I won’t allow you to have the last sneer, so here it is, a celebration of 2020 inspite of…

We have been in locked down since March. I’ve filled the gas tank of my Honda only twice since March. All purchases are being delivered to our porch which go through a sanitizing process. All meals are prepared by me. My hair makes me look like a witch, a great savings on new wardrobes, manicures and pedicures. Have lost all social graces and have been dressing above my waist for ZOOM appearances. And Amazon has become my Santa Claus, dropping off packages and boxes weekly.

My plans to be in the Monarch Festival parade in Hawaii with my literary mouse Wordsworth was cancelled. Book signings for my 15th book, Echoes of Kapoho, in Hawaii and Sacramento were cancelled. Speaking engagements, all cancelled.

Managed to do a virtual reading of my two children’s books for the Hawaii Alzheimer’s Assoc. Did a virtual lecture/writing workshop for caregivers,  poetry readings for the Northern CA Publishers/authors. My two interviews on my work with caregivers appeared in two newsletters. All this without leaving my home office. And I facilitate my monthly poetry writing sessions for caregivers  through ZOOM.

The saving grace for 2020:

  1. My fifth Wordsworth the Poet children’s book was accepted for publication.
  2. My first two Wordsworth books have been made into a musical stage play, now scheduled for 2022 due to the pandemic at the U of Hawaii theater in Hilo, HI. I’ve read the script, heard the music and I’m speechless at the talented creators.
  3. Nice surprise in September: My Echoes of Kapoho book was awarded the Best in Fiction Memoirs by Northern CA Publishers/Authors.
  4. My book #16th was published. Title: The Kindergarten Dropout of Kapoho. A few stories from my Kapoho book was published; to be used in a memoir writing project by my publisher. Do get in touch with Watermark Publishing if you wish to write and publish your memoirs under guidance.
  5. Have had poems and stories published in two anthologies by the Northern CA Publishers/Authors: one on Travel and the other on Holidays.
  6. In December, five of my poems were published in an anthology published by the Human and Nature Center: University of Chicago Press. Title: What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want To Be? This international organization of scientists and scholars work at preserving our human and natural resources. I’m the simple poet.
  7. This year reminded me why we teach. To former students and parents, thank you for getting in touch. A former first grader from Michigan, now in Maryland, even sewed me face masks. I’m sorry I lost a former talented first grader musician to the Corona virus as I did a dear friend in NYC. 

I’ve never read so many books, about 50 books at this writing. Shows you how much time I have on my hands. My book club adds titles I would never have read. Red built me a little “gym” in the backyard, a covered structure where I use the treadmill, listening to NPR or CD’s of music of my era, and a massage table to do more exercises. I stopped walking around the neighborhood after a man tried to rob me of my mask in April.

California is in a dire state so it looks like another year of lock –  down. What a strange way to end my holiday greetings to you. Wear your mask, get vaccinated and stay safe and sane. And may the new year bring us a bright light at the end of the tunnel and may we all live safely and kindly ever after. And 2020, get out of the way, please, so we can welcome in the new year with renewed hope. Take good care. Frances

December 7

Under the rising sun

The enemy came

Wearing my face.


     Eh, Jap!

It claws my spine,

Tearing skin.

It enters my body

To devour who I am.

I spit it out! Bull’s-eye!

So what do you do

With “Eh, Jap!”

On your face?

from my Echoes of Kapoho: A Memoir

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