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Archive for the ‘America Salutes’ Category

Golden Spike

 

The signs were there: when students need to talk

They hang around my desk, playing with my stapler or

Realigning my pens and pencils until there is privacy

For courage to emerge.

 

“Sometimes”, she quietly started , “I get up at three in the morning

And hear my dad crying. I go downstairs and he’s sitting on

Steps, crying in the dark.

He was in the Vietnam War; He won’t talk about it

But I watch him cry a lot.  He can’t sleep. I know because I always

See him on the steps. I wish I knew how to help him.”

 

Damn! Here’s that war again.

No child ought to be wakened  at 3 a.m. by a father’s tears.

No child ought to be sucked in, to twenty five year old wars.

No child ought to have dreams of crayoned images

Disrupted  by black ashes.

 

I wasn’t trained to undo the nature of war.

So I gave her a copy of Golden Spike.

“ I wrote these poems about the war.

Maybe your dad will find this book helpful.”

 

A few weeks later, in her class journal: Private to Miss K.

My dad is always reading your book. And he’s not getting up anymore,

He’s not crying anymore. Thank you for helping him.

Is it okay if I keep the book a bit longer? He wants to know,

Did you know someone from the Vietnam War?

 

“Yes”, I wrote in her journal,
“I knew someone just like your dad.”

 

On the last day of school, once again she stood near my desk.

“I’m sorry we still have your book, but my dad

Is still reading it.  I hate to take the book away from him.”

 

“I gave that book to both of you. I’m so glad

My poems help him.”

 

She held on to our hug, whispering,

“Thank you, Miss Kakugawa.”

from Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless

 

 

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Hawai’i Herald is publishing the following:

There’s a piece of unfinished business in my memory that I want to share with the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team veterans on behalf of a stranger in Germany.

When I visited Germany years ago, an old woman looked at me and began to weep. She reached out her hand to me. When I went to her, she took my hand, kissed it and began to speak in German, tears rolling down her face. Her grandson explained that I reminded her of the Hawai‘i soldiers who were so kind to her during World War II. Was I from Hawai‘i? Yes, I told her, and I know those soldiers.

For the first time in my life since Pearl Harbor, my face was greeted with tears of joy because of the 100th/442nd soldiers.

As a result, in my forthcoming poetry book, I included the following poem to honor the Japanese American soldiers who are still remembered and honored for their humanity while many of their families were in internment camps back home.

 

HAMBURG, GERMANY

In the Philippines,

World War II follows me into the night.

“Stay indoors after dark, people still remember

Japanese soldiers on Corregidor.”

 

My sixth-grade student writes in his journal

“December 7: I hate the Japs. I wish they were all dead.

My grandfather told me about them.”

 

In Hamburg, a woman, lined with age

Holds my hand and weeps to me in German.

I remind her of soldiers from Hawaii.

She has not forgotten their kindness long ago.

 

Our tears taste the same

In German and in English.

We are the only ones standing

In the aftermath of wars.

 

  • From: “Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless”

by Frances H. Kakugawa

 

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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

This is what a country should do  to people who have served her.

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