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4 WordsworthBooks

My little mouse poet Wordsworth and I will be at Barnes & Noble at Arden Fair, Sacramento on December 9th, at 11 a.m. Come meet Wordsworth and bring  your children ages  1 to 90.

Wordsworth the Poet: Poor Wordsworth, everyone worries or makes fun of him because he is different by being a poet. One day his poetry saves his whole village.

Wordsworth Dances the Waltz: Wordsworth teaches the adults that his Grandma is still a Grandma even if she is losing her memory.

Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer:  The trees are being destroyed. Can Wordsworth and his friends use their poetry to save these trees? See how a group of children become empowered through writing, to make a difference.

Wordsworth, It’s in Your Pocket: Poor Wordsworth, all his friends are addicted to electronic games. Can he bring them back again to ocean waves and human conversations and true human friendship? An old mouse tells him the answer is in his pocket.

 

 

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I wrote this poem for a Vietnam veteran whose job it was to fly his helicopter down to villages in Vietnam, after our bombings, to save as many children as he could. Space limited his work. He painted what he saw…children as logs…when the war ended, his superior officers threw all his paintings into a bonfire. Vietnam limited whatever relationship we could have had.

 

The Wooden Soldier

 

The wooden soldier marches

As he was wound to do.

Steadily, rhythmically,

Mechanical precision.

The only dislocation

Between manufactured knees.

The wooden soldier marches

Then stands perfectly still,

A soldier no more

But a wooden peg.

 

But the soldier I know

Keeps on marching.

He keeps on beating

For he has no key

To stop him from seeing

Dislocated limbs

Of children on children.

He has no key

To stop him from smelling

The river of blood

On Sunday afternoons.

 

Forgive us, O Soldier

For factorizing keys

Only for soldiers

On wooden knees.

Forgive us, soldier

For mechanized birds,

Wooden logs and battlefields.

frances kakugawa

Golden Spike:Naylor Co., 1973

Reprinted in Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless

 

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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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Thank you, participants and Brookdale Foundation and RAPP for all the welcoming mats. It was an honor to  help open the conference with a keynote address  followed by book signings and two workshops on the following day. It was a nice way to introduce my new book: Dangerous Women: Poetry for the Ageless. Participants are to be highly commended for making a difference in the lives of our elders, our children and in the humanities.

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wws-visit

Look who paid me a visit during the holidays. Yes, Wordsworth of my four children’s books of Wordsworth the little mouse poet who makes a difference with his poetic voice. But more than his visit, I heard this today. Remember Janet, the autistic woman who is finding such comfort in Wordsworth? Last night, her family found her reading the poem on thunderstorms from my book,Wordsworth the Poet. Janet is extremely afraid of thunder but last night, she fell asleep with the book in her hands. Thank you, Wordsworth!

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A former first grade student of 50 years ago, got in touch to thank me for teaching her how to read and for adding literature to her life. I sat stunned thinking, “I taught her to read. Imagine that.”

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Somewhere  a child is looking in as I did, at Christmas as it ought to be:Lighted Christmas trees, presents, carolers at the door, snowflakes andSanta Claus with bundles of toys. Somewhere a 16 year old is looking in, as I did, at romantic firesides, two lovers with crystals filled with wine with sounds of carolers at their door. Somewhere a parent is looking in, knowing the ink has run  dry for another loan as flashes of bank ads promise cash to make Christmas right.

Somewhere still, a child is drawn to the sound of bells and puts his last dime into the kettle red. Somewhere a child is visiting the forgotten in nursing homes with cookies of lopsided trees and four pointed stars sprinkled with red and green.Somewhere a child hands a loaf of warm bread and a cup of cocoa to a homeless who blesses the child, then returns home, looking in.

On Sale

I walk the city under neon lights

Watching shoppers dodge and fight

The endless maze of traffic rush.

They toss in pennies

In corner pails

As chimes ring out

All joy to the world.

They hang out wreaths

On window panes

They wrap and curl

Green plastic bows.

They’ve listened good

To the Adman’s soul.

He’s promised them Joy.

Peace. Love.

Happiness. Goodwill.

Hallelujah to all.

I wonder how many people here tonight

Fear the coming of the promised morn.

( From my Golden Spike, 1973)

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