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Seven year old Kollin was given my Wordsworth the Poet book and according to his mother, he kept rereading the book. You see, Kollin has Wordsworth inside him, too, because he wants to be an artist someday. Not a fiction artist, he said, but a non-fiction one where he will draw nature. One day his uncles took him shopping with “Buy anything you want.” Kollin chose a tablet and a box of crayons. His uncles told his mother, “Hey, something wrong with your son, we expected to buy him all kinds of electronic games but he only chose this paper and crayons.”

 

This is his book report on Wordsworth the Poet: He used a pumpkin to reproduce Wordsworth.

No wonder Kollin feels so connected to Wordsworth. I have offered to visit his class as Share and Tell and perhaps help release the little poets inside each child.

A generation ago, Kollin’s uncle had the same dream but his immigrant Hmong parents told him this is not why they came to America…he needs to let go his artist dreams and get a real job and he did.

4 WordsworthBooks

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In a restaurant today, a little boy, age 3 or 4 took his toy gun and began to point it at other diners and “shot” his gun that gave a popping sound.  Al l the diners responded positively, calling it cute and one even pretended to die. He went table to table. When he pointed the gun at me, in a very loud voice to be heard by his parents, I said very slowly, “Do – not – point – your – gun – at – me. That – is- not – a – good – thing – to – do.”  His parent scolded him for bothering me.

I thought of the supervisor of my practice teaching class in college. The children were 4 or 5 and she didn’t allow any guns for share and tell nor did she allow any guns in free play. ” Guns are for killing” , she said, and I took that with me  into the classroom for the rest of my career.

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I was thinking of a second grade class I visited as a  writing resource teacher. I worked with poetry in this particular class. On the last day,  a  little boy, who wore a baseball cap to hide  the after-effects of chemotherapy followed me to the door and said, “I floated on air, being with you.” How I wanted to stay and become God.

Yes, I Will

When he takes my hand in his,

His tiny little fingers curled around mine,

I am filled with a great sense of duty,

Duty to keep this world

Free from fear and evil.

 

When I feel his hand in mine,

The contrast: spring to autumn,

I feel compelled to live

Every minute of my life

With love and human kindness

So this world that belongs to him

Will be a place where his deepest secrets

Will be safe,

Where all his dreams and hopes

Become possibilities,

And this world becomes

The greatest, most trusted friend,

Anyone could ever have.

 

Oh, I will live so I can make

All the difference in his life,

For having trusted his hand in mine.

frances kakugawa: from Teacher, You Look Like a Horse

 

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Yes, I Will

When he takes my hand in his,

His tiny little fingers curled around mine,

I am filled with a great sense of duty,

Duty to keep this world

Free from fear and evil.

 

When I feel his hand in mine,

The contrast: spring to autumn,

I feel compelled to live

Every minute of my life

With love and human kindness

So this world that belongs to him

Will be a place where his deepest secrets

Will be safe,

Where all his dreams and hopes

Become possibilities,

And this world becomes

The greatest, most trusted friend,

Anyone could ever have.

 

Oh, I will live so I can make

All the difference in his life,

For having trusted his hand in mine.

frances kakugawa: from Teacher, You Look Like a Horse

 

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Voice from your Child

 

You promised me

A world, free of battlefields, soldiers, children

Abandoned  in fear ­— hunger —

Children, trembling in closets , amidst gunshot fire.

 

You offered  Hope,  again and again.

A world, you said, where we will stand

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

Agenda — politics free.

 

You promised me a world

Free of poison in oceans, earth and air.

“You  are the future”, you told me,

“Come and be born in this world I will

Create for you. Trust me.”

 

My brothers and sisters who believed you

Are now old men and women, and  they wait.

They wait.

 

Stop using me, your invisible child

For promises and meaningless  rhetoric.

 

Candles and flowers  now fill  spaces

Where  my friends once lived and played.

 

Listen to my voice.

See me.

The future is now. Today.

Today. Trust me.

 

 

Frances H Kakugawa

To honor all the students who are doing what we adults have failed to do.

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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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