Archive for the ‘Sacramento Poetry Center’ Category

Coffee & Poets Radio Program

Please join me:

Sunday, July 16

Time: 5:00 p.m.

Naked Coffee Lounge

1111 H St.

Sacramento, CA

Frank Graham of Sacramento Poetry Center will interview me for a live podcast on my being a poet. What an honor. I will read a few poems and discuss my poetry and personal life with Frank. It will  mean a lot to have a live audience for inspiration.


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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!


   Frances H. Kakugawa

   From Teacher, You Look Like a Horse

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At our last poetry writing support group for caregivers, caregiver Bob shared the following poem:


I Began to Write


I began to write because I was angry.

I began to write because I was hurt.

I began to write because I needed to vent.

I began to write because Fran could not.

But along the way an epiphany.

I fell in love, I fell in love with words.

I find joy in finding the right word and

Like a jigsaw puzzle only one word will fit.

I love the richness and simplicity of the right word.

It has elegance and beauty in its own right.

I love the harmony of words together

With meaning greater than the sum of its parts.

I see stories unfolding to make you weep.

To laugh and move you to action.

This is the power of words.

©Bob Oyafuso

Bob confessed how he pondered over each word and of the time  spent
searching for  the right word. “It’ll take me 35 years to write a book,” he laughed. He explained so well the process of writing poetry.

Driving home, I thought of …
It took me years of reflecting and over six months of actual writing to write the following poem. When the episode happened, ( I was a young new teacher, I noticed a first grader missing…I panicked and went outside and saw him running across the playground with arms all out…running into the fog. I stood and watched him until he returned; he merely said “I couldn’t touch it.” We walked back to class without a word, my arms around his shoulders.)
I knew I had to capture it so I wrote a short story.
Somehow the story just didn’t do it. I wrote the story in various forms and finally settled on the following:

Run, Run, But Not Into the Fog

A little boy
Runs into the fog
As it slowly creeps
Over the field,
Softening edges
Into mists.
He runs and runs
And soon is swallowed
By the mysterious giant.
Then slowly, quietly
He returns to me
With wooden legs
And puddled wings.
“The more I ran
The more it disappeared.”

from The path of Butterflies.

No one ever said writing is easy.

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I wrote the following to honor a teenager who stopped by my book signing in Honolulu.

A Stranger Among Us

Three young lads walk the mall

Passing my book signing at Barnes & Noble.

One lad breaks away

After turning his head

Toward the book display

On a tripod near me.

“What kind of book is this?

Did you write this?”

“Yes,” I say to the lad

Wearing a tiny hoop in one lobe,

A silver stud in his nose.

“This is a book of poems on caregiving.”

“I write poems, too. I set them to music.

Do you want to hear one of my poems?”

He rapped his poem in perfect rhythm,

Musical rhymes, poignantly searching

For the meaning of life.

I open my book to offer him

My simple poem, “A Poet’s Declaration.”

He reads it, looks at me and quietly says,

“You’re the first person who understands me.”

We talk of how it is

To be a poet…

The aloneness, the pain, the joy.

“No one knows me as you do.”

He hands me Mosaic Moon,

I sign it To Jason.

“Dammit,” I think, after he leaves

To join his two companions

With my book in his hand…

“How did one poem from a stranger

Help him feel there is someone after all,

Who knows and understands him?

How did he recently leave

Thirteen years of school behind him,

A lonely stranger?

frances kakugawa

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We turned into poets in all of my classes, grades K-6 during my teaching career. Robert Webster was a sixth grader at Nimitz Elem in Hawaii. One day, I watched him write the last line to a poem. Beads of perspiration rolled down his nose. He dropped his pen and I heard him whisper, “ I’m all poemed out.”

Here’s an excerpt from one of his poems.

“Writing is wonderful.

It is a thing that can make the dumb speak,

The deaf to hear, and the blind to see.

Writing can bring out true emotions

That we usually don’t see,

And it brings out our true selves…”

The rest of this poem appears in my book, Teacher, You Look Like a Horse. Robert helped to write the last chapter with a few other students. They were all adults then, but still listened to their teacher when I asked them for help.  Robert never left. After sixth grade, he stayed in touch through high school and college and now as a father to three sons with wife Erica.

I have lunched with Robert and his family in New York City twice and the poetry man is still there. How wonderful to have a poetry man for a dad.

Here are three poems from the next generation of Websters, written by son Samuel when he was eight years old.


Me and My Cat

Tommy loves it

When I scratch him under

His chin.

You can sleep in my bed,


Do you want to read with me,


Now this is relaxing!



Sunny Day

Today I woke up

On a sunny day.

I went to my friend’s house

On that sunny day.

I played throw and catch

At my friend’s house

Until it was dark

On that sunny day.




Crazy, cute

Running, climbing, swinging

Eating, jumping, sleeping

Bananas, trees, vines

Hairy, agile


©Samuel Charles Webster

8 years old

Guilderland, New York


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Wordsworth continues to smile

I walked into the office of my new dentist last year in Sacramento and imagine my surprise to see Shelly at the front desk. We last saw each other when she was about five. Her mother , my cousin’s wife, brought her to my first book  signing in Hilo, HI. I remember Shelly because somewhere, there’s a photo of her, a young child,  holding a copy of my book of poems, Sand Grains. Well, guess what. Here are two poems written by her two sons. Shelly’s mom and I are claiming, “It’s the Kakugawa blood” but that’s up for debate.


I Am Poem


I am shy and quiet

I wonder what my future would be like

I hear water hitting the ground

I see giant buildings in the sky

I am shy and quiet

I pretend to fly through the sky

I feel soft clouds

I touch ripped up leaves

I worry when my brother is alone

I cry when me and my brother fight

I am shy and quiet

I understand to not use violence

I say I could pass all my obstacles

I dream when I sleep at night

I try to accomplish my goals

I hope I have a good future

I am shy and quiet.

©Lars Cabuco

15 years old

Roseville, CA


I Am Poem


I am happy and nice

I wonder what my brother is doing

I hear a monster growling

I see a flying ghost

I want a charm

I am happy and nice

I pretend to never mess up

I feel very shy

I touch a sandstone

I worry about falling behind,

I cry when I fall behind

I am happy and nice

I understand my mom is very tired

I say I can fall behind

I dream of the world’s gravity

I try to work hard

I hope I never fall behind

I am happy and nice.


©Bourne Rizal Cabuco

9 years old

Roseville, CA



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“Do young children write poetry at all in this age of electronics?” This was one of the questions asked on Hawaii Public Radio when I was interviewed for my 3rd children’s book on Wordsworth the mouse poet who is empowered by writing poetry.

I didn’t need to think. “Yes!” I said.

I wish the poet/ children I’m featuring this month were there.

Their poetry would have supported my answer quite eloquently and convincingly. Today, meet Tara. We have met only through Wordsworth and her poetry.

Tara is seven years old. Her mother wrote: Tara and I picked up Wordsworth again last night–and Tara was inspired to write some more poems that she wanted to share with you.  She is seven now.

The wind and sky, the ground and earth 

will spin

at a tornado’s birth.

With angels in puffy clouds

dancing on their tippy tippy toes,

with one little step

they will go.

Away and away they go.



A sea will crash on a silver beach

leaving the seashells behind.

The fish will splash and listen 

to the breeze the ocean left behind.

The fish will follow the breeze.

And away and away they go.



One little seed

One little plant

One little flower

That will grow content.

The leaves will spread

and body grow.

That will go down its stem

and grow grow grow.

                     ©Tara H

                      Age 7


I wrote to Tara:

I read your poems aloud over and over and felt myself flying above the clouds.
The clouds are white today in California so it’s a perfect day for soaring and your
poems became my wings. I’m dancing, Tara, I’m flying.

When Tara was six years old, her mother sent me the following:


Dear Frances,

Your gifts to me and my family keep giving, and Wordsworth keeps inspiring!  I wanted to share with you….

I don’t know how I had missed it, but I had….The other night, Tara and I opened Wordsworth for our nightly snuggle and there was your beautiful Haiku to Tara and Zoe.  I was so touched by it, and I believe Tara was ever more inspired.

Tara wanted to share a few of the poems with you:


Flower on the sidewalk

you will grow

with grace and beauty


Leaf you can grow

as big as a tree


Flower you can grow 

as fast as 

a waiting poem

              ©Tara H

              Age 6

I wrote to Tara’s mother:

In Hawaii we say we get “chicken skin ” when we meet up with something that leave us speechless.
I got chicken skin, just sitting here reading Tara’s poems over and over. That last verse is simply beautiful…
“as fast as a waiting poem.”

Our planet got a bit stronger…
and Wordsworth is here, grinning away.







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