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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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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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Hi Everyone,
Here is an hour long interview I had with Micheal Pope,  CEO of ASEB (Alz Services of East Bay) this morning on aging and giving care. I read poetry from Ageless Woman and I Am somebody. Micheal is an amazing woman who devotes her life to helping others.
I don’t know how I did…I just about never listen or watch anything I say or do on radio or TV.
Take care,
frances

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/lifeisasacredjourney/2018/05/24/poetry-for-the-ageless-with-frances-kakugawa

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OMG! It has happened.

I was on campus last week to speak on Haiku poetry in one of the classes.  I stopped the teacher who was accompanying me.

“Listen, “ I said. “It is soooo quiet. I don’t hear any human voices.”

We were not alone. There were students all around me but I heard no human voices. They were attached to their electronic devices, strolling toward their destination. It was like being in a zombie movie with shadows of human beings walking all around me in silence. I felt the creep.

At the coffee shop, I observed couples at a table, but couldn’t even eavesdrop to their conversations because there were none. Maybe I’m too late with this poem I’ve shared before:

 

To Children of the 21st Century

 

How do you keep your fingers so free of dirt?

How do you come in from play  without

Mud on your feet, your clothes, your cheeks?

How do you not even sweat?

 

How do you speak without giving eye contact

To the person sitting in front of you?

How do you spend time with your friend

Without conversation?

 

Oh Children of the 21st Century,

Why is there silence in a room filled

With family on this holiday?

How did you become so mute?

 

Do you know how rain feels

Soaking your shirt to your skin?

The smell of sea salt in your hair

After a dip in the sea?

 

Have you watched a little seed

Pushing  its first breath

Out of soil you’ve patted down

A few weeks ago?

 

Can you see a cardinal, a mynah,

A crow, with your eyes closed, listening

To their signature  songs  they sing out to you

In your own back yard?

 

Do you know the feel of your grandpa’s grip

Warm and strong in your hand?

The story behind that  long scar that runs

The length of his arm?

 

Do you carry memories

Of your  grandma’s smiles

Each time you had said,

Hi Grandma. Can I help you?

 

Do you ever count clouds, lying

On soft green grass, laughing

Over silly stuff shared with a friend?

Do you ever cry over a child starving

In Africa or in your neighborhood?

Feel upset over trees being cut

For freeways and shopping malls,

Fancy sports arenas?

 

Have you ever used the eraser

At the end of a pencil,

Writing a poem, a song, a story.

A thank you note?

 

Do you know the feel of crisp

New pages of a book, as they unfold

Moving plots, faster than your impatient

Fingers can follow your eyes?

 

Oh, Children of the 21st Century,

How did you become so dead?

 

From Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless by

frances h kakugawa

 

 

 

 

 

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ncpa award plaque

Whoever said award winners are humble people, lied.

Thank you, NCPA for the award Saturday night. It was also an honor to have been

on the program to read from Dangerous Woman..

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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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