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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Men in Disguise at Book Signings

 

“Did your husband write all these books?”

He was in the audience a few minutes ago.

Yet, here he stands in his three piece designer suit

Scanning book titles with furrowed brows.

 

“Idiot,” I didn’t say, “Would I be sitting here,

Two hours on my hemorrhoids

Signing someone else’s books

With carpal tunneled fingers?”

 

At Barnes & Noble in Hawaii,

The FBI disguised in a loud Aloha shirt,

A wilted orchid  lei, a camera strapped like a gun

Interrogates me.

“You wrote these books?”

Not satisfied, he grills me over hot coals again.

“You? You wrote all these books?”

 

Ready to turn the lamp on me,

He turns to his partner.

“Martha? Martha? Come on over.

She said she wrote all these books!”

Expecting the click of handcuffs,

Water boarding or worse,

I remain silent.

 

A man in his black robe

Sits on the Court bench.

The Advertiser news  story of my poetry book

Spread across his lap.

“A Japanese woman publishing poetry…

No Japanese man” he prophesized,

Is ever going to date her.

She crossed over into the Haole ( white) world

With this poetry book.”

 

Yes, Your Honor.

Japanese. Woman. Poet.

Guilty as charged.

 

Frances Kakugawa

 

 

 

 

 

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April

The poets, in droves

Lick their pens, salivating

Over metaphors, turning

Death into life. It must be

National Poetry Month.

fhk

 

During one of my poetry writing sessions with 3rd graders, this was my contribution. Not quite up to par with my students’ poetry.

 

A Poet’s Declaration

 

I am a star

In the Milky Way.

I am the crest

On emerald waves.

I am a dewdrop, crystal clear,

Capturing sunbeams in the morning mist.

I am that dust

On butterfly wings.

I am that song

Of a thousand strings.

I am that teardrop

You have kissed.

I am a poet!

I am! I am!

I am that rage

In the thunderstorm,

I am that image

Of a thousand form.

I am magic on each page.

I am a poet!

I am! I am!

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Becoming

 

Never laugh at the elders

Who meet at MacDonald’s in Hawaii

Never laugh at their animated conversations

On trips to Vegas and the best ramen at Hotel California.

 

Never laugh

Because eventually you will become them

As I have these cold winter months

After working out at the gym in early morn.

 

I walk across the street to La Bou

Stop by three or four tables

To exchange greetings with the regulars.

Monday through Friday, one conversation

Is a recording…

She speaks Spanish, I speak English…

We say Buenas Dias, Gracias and more Buenas Dias.

And smile without translation.

 

Are you that youngster at a table

Laughing at my limited vocabulary

Swearing you  will never succumb

To life of the elders

Who drink the same bitter coffee,

Morning after morning

Staring at the world that never changes

Through last month’s spider webs

Except for a tree that reminds me

The seasons of my life are alive and well.

frances kakugawa 1/22.19

 

 

I

 

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Our old house lot in Kapoho was covered with lava a few days ago. The poem below describes the original Kapoho of my childhood, not the current Kapoho:

 

Once There Was a Kapoho

 

Once there was a Kapoho

Where children played barefooted

Until the evening sun disappeared

And kerosene lamps and gas lamps

Beckoned each child home.

 

Once there was a Kapoho

Where outhouses and water tanks

Prominently stood as sentinels

And ohi’a firewood sent signals

Above rooftops, announcing

A hot furo* for the tired and the toiled.

 

Once there was a Kapoho

Where mothers pumping sewing machines

Marked the end of summer.

Homemade clothes and one-strapped schoolbags

For the first of September.

 

Once there was a Kapoho

Without television,

But battery-run radios,

Crackling “The Romance of Helen Trent,”

Dr. Malone and Arthur Godfrey.

 

Once there was a Kapoho

Without washing machines

But wooden washboards

Against concrete tubs

Slippery, muddy denims

Boiled in Saloon Pilot cans.

 

Once there was a place

Without shopping malls and Macy’s,

But catalogs from Sears and Montgomery Ward,

Dream-makers, before Charmin or MD.

Once there was Christmas without lights.

Yes, once there was a place

So simple and free

Where children swam in Warm Springs

And fished in Green Lake,

Played marbles and Ojame

And Steal Steal Stone.

 

Once there was a place

Where life went on without question.

Sons went off to war,

Teachers taught the 3 Rs

Parents were the PTA

And children pledged allegiance.

 

Yes, once there was such a place

Until Madam Pele** said, “No more!”

And scattered all the children

Like stars in the universe,

Echoing Thomas Wolfe,

“You can’t go home again.”

 

From Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii

 

* furo: bath

**Kapoho was destroyed by lava flows. Madame Pele, fire goddess in Hawai’ian lore, is believed to be the creator of eruptions.

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Be Still, Be Still

 

What will poets do

Without the first bloom of Spring

Waltzing in the wind?

 

What will children do

Without slimy green frogs

Slipping through fingers?

 

What will  Basho have  seen

Without the leap of the frog

Splash! Then stillness again.

 

What will you do

Without the sound of stillness

In the morning dew?

 

What will you do?

frances kakugawa

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“There is no poetry for the practical man. There is poetry only for the mankind of the man who spends a certain amount of his life turning the mechanical wheel. But let him spend too much of his life at the mechanics of practicality and either he must become something less than a man, or his very mechanical efficiency will become impaired by the frustrations stored up in his irrational human personality.
An ulcer, gentlemen, is an unkissed imagination taking its revenge for having been jilted. It is an unwritten poem, a neglected music, an unpainted water color, an undanced dance. It is a declaration from the mankind of the man that a clear spring of joy has not been tapped, and that it must break through, muddily, on its own.”
– John Ciardi

 

“Poems are not written to sing of the moon and flowers; they must speak of our hearts in response to the moon and flowers. We must never forget that in our hearts are the seeds of our poems. If we merely speak of the moon and flowers, poems become simply poetical forms, whatever the human heart may be. If these things become a part of ourselves, then we may admire them in verse.”
– Okuman Kotomichi
19th century

 

“A haiku . . . is a hand beckoning, a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean. It is a way of returning to nature, to our moon nature, our cherry blossom nature, our falling leaf nature, in short, to our Buddha nature. It is a way in which the cold winter rain, the swallows of evening, even the very day in its hotness, and the length of the night become truly alive, share in our humanity, speak their own silent and expressive language.”

— R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 1, page 243

 

 

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   This thing called life,  passion, feelings or  sexuality belongs to us, men and women of all ages.

We still see things we shouldn’t see –

We still feel things we shouldn’t feel-

We still hear things we shouldn’t hear-

We still taste grief, joy, fear,

In a world that vibrates

Through all of my senses.

We are not dead yet.

   Definition

Do not define me by age.

I am not Roosevelt, Truman,

Eisenhower, or JFK.

 

Do not define me by blue veins

bulging out on my spidery arms,

my gobbler, once a Hepburn, Audrey.

 

Do not define me by Rorschach,

On skin brushed with indelible ink.

A Pollock on the wall of MOMA.

 

Do not define me by a new dance step

Shuffling, shuffling –

My heels replaced by clogs.

 

I am

a rabbit out of a hat,

a three ring circus without net,

A whodunit without clues.

War and Peace, chapter one,

The second act.

 

I am

Without epilog.

from my Dangerous Women: Poetry for the Ageless

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