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It seems appropriate that my first poem that came to be written is for caregivers who, without recognition, are saving our future generations with their humanity.

 

Imperfections

 

We dance the imperfect dance.

We trip over our toes,

Waltzing to the Samba.

 

Four step trot or Cha Cha Cha

It’s still the 1 2 3 step

To whatever plays the music.

 

Perfect in our imperfections.

We miss doctor’s appointments,

Wash yesterday’s dishes today.

 

We leave towels in the washer

Stiff and dry, unlike ads from Downy,

In the morning after.

 

We are so perfect in our imperfections,

There is green fluffy mold atop yogurt,

Wilted lettuce, dehydrated onions –

 

That no longer bring  tears.

Spam and  Campbell soup cans

Expired dates like former Exes.

 

We take our screams

To the tangerine trees

Who spread their branches knowingly

 

Offering us fruits beyond expectations.

We are caregivers,

Perfect in our imperfections.

 

FHK January 4, 2020

 

 

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wm ww

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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Hi events

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Please pass the following info to caregivers, health professionals or family members living with elders.

Phone reservations necessary for these two free events.

I will also be at Native Books in Honolulu to discuss my children’s books at their Tea and

Talk Story on May 19 from 11 to noon.

 

final hilo flyerSac flyer 2019

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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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Thank you, President Diane Woodruff and members of the Sacramento Rotary Club. It was a privilege to be your speaker at your meeting on Tuesday. No, I didn’t wear a feather boa as part of my attire. It was a prop for the following poem found beneath these photos. My message was: In the midst of cleaning my mother’s bathroom floor, once I said, “Maybe there’s a poem here,” I was no longer a  caregiver cleaning  BM off a bathroom floor. I was a poet/caregiver, and that made all the difference in the world.

book table Rotaryfeather boa

photos by John Swentowsky of Swentoswsky Photography.com

A Feather Boa and a Toothbrush

 

It is 3 a.m.

I am on my hands and knees

With toothbrush in one hand,

A glass of hot tap water in my other,

Scrubbing BM off my mother’s

Bathroom floor.

 

Before a flicker of self pity can set in,

A vivid image enters my mind.

An image of a scarlet feather boa

Impulsively bought from Neiman Marcus,

Delicately wrapped in white tissue

Awaiting in my cedar chest

For some enchanted evening.

The contrast between my illusional lifestyle

Of feather boas, Opium perfume and black velvet

And my own reality of toothbrushes,

Bathroom tiles and BM at 3 a.m.

Overwhelms me with silent laughter.

 

Kakugawa

from I Am Somebody: Bringing Dignity and Compassion to Alzheimer’s Caregiving

 

 

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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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08-2018_Caregiving A dignifed LifeDrop by to say hello if you’re near the library.

 

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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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Our house lot is now under lava and with it, a Christmas Memory in summer.

 

A Kapoho Christmas

 

It was Christmas without lights.

It was Christmas without indoor plumbing.

It was Christmas without carolers at the window

Muffed and warm under falling snow.

 

But there was Christmas.

 

A Christmas program at school

Where the Holy Night reenacted:

White tissue paper glued on spines of coconut  fronds

Shaped as angel wings and halos.

Long white robes, over bare feet.

 

Santa Claus with bagfuls of hard mixed candies

Ho ho hoed by the plantation manager,

His yearly holiday role in the village where he reigned.

Fathers  in Sunday best

After a hard day’s work in sugar cane fields.

Children in home-sewn dresses and shirts.

 

A fir branch from the hills,

Needles not lasting 24 hours.

Chains from construction paper,

Origami balls, strands of tin-foiled tinsel.

Kerosene  and gas lamps

Moving shadows on the walls.

 

It was not the Christmas of my dreams.

No carolers at the window,

Singing O Holy Night.

No large presents under a Douglas Fir

No fireplaces and rooftop chimneys.

No blue-eyed  boy handing me hot chocolate.

 

For 18 years, the true Christmas

Lived in my head until Madame Pele

Came to my rescue

And buried our kerosene lamps.

 

“Finally,”  I said,

 

Running out fast —

My bare feet over pebbled, unpaved roads

To the Christmas of my dreams.

 

 

Frances Kakugawa

 

 

 

 

 

 

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