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Dear William Wordsworth,

A friend visited your home recently and brought back photos of where you wrote your poetry. I, too, am named Wordsworth and I, too, write poetry. Not in an English home such as yours, but in my little mouse hole in Hawaii. Yes, I am a mouse poet.

The 21st century must seem unimaginable compared to your life in the 1700-1800’s.

And yet, Mr. Wordsworth, our poems cross all centuries. Your poem below still speaks of the need to preserve our natural environment, otherwise what images will poets see on a lonely walk? Concrete?

”I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils.”

Contrary to your poem, my poems speak of preserving what was so natural in your century. Mr. Wordsworth, there will be no daffodils in our world soon.

The Bulldozer

there was a place I sat and wrote

to music played in my concert grove.

 

branches rubbed against branches,

coconuts dropped to the ground.

vines snaked and squeaked their way

seeking the hot noon sun.

 

frilly fronds danced the wind,

lacy limbs brushed their leaves.

sparrows, mynahs spattered notes

low c’s, high c’s and in-between.

 

it was a place for violins, cellos,

trombones, flutes, and  piccolos, too.

Oh, what music to my ears.

Then the monster came.

 

gachump!

gachump!

gachump!

he gobbled up notes

oh, what a beast.

he chomped and crushed,

grunted and groaned,

belched and gobbled

everything in sight.

 

oh, what a monster,

oh what a beast

to eat my trees.

to eat my trees.

Wordsworth fell asleep thinking, “Gachump, Gachump.”

from Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer!

It is an honor bearing your name, Mr. Wordsworth.

Aloha,

Wordsworth the mouse poet.

 

 

 

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Morning Shock Waves

 

Who is this woman

In my morning mirror?

Who let this old

Japanese woman in?

 

I have fallen in aftershocks

From devastating earthquakes –

Aftershocked from broken romances –

Rear-ended crashes .

Avalanched by human cruelty –

But never, never, such

Aftershocks of this mirrored truth.

Get her out of here!!!

 

Frances Kakugawa 9-17-19

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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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