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Archive for the ‘war and peace’ Category

The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage

go for broke

The Go For Broke Spirit book is poetry. It is poetry that preserves the humanity of man and more. I first looked at the photos  without the text and was driven to my gut with emotions. The  portrait accompanying each story is a novel in itself… each man’s silent story of honor and dignity is  deeply embedded in the seasoned lines on  his face,  his hands, and in his  eyes. You can’t help but be drawn to the text,  knowing that it would compound the powerful photos with their stories. This is accomplished with poetic precision and inspiration.  Both photos and texts powerfully tell the stories of these young Japanese-American men who fought for their country while their families lived in internment camps. Veterans from Hawaii and the West Coast are represented in the book.

 

More than 80 veterans’ portraits and their stories are preserved in this hardcover book. If this part of our history is to be preserved, it must be through the generations following not only these brave and honorable men, but all others as well.

This book must become a legacy for generations to come so the lessons learned about honor, bravery, dignity, patriotism and human kindness can be lived and practiced by all of us. We owe this to these brave men and their families and to the Issei generation who began this story.  There is no enemy, no hatred, no racism, only ignorance and this can be dealt with, as told by each veteran.

 

The Japanese cultural practice of gaman ( to accept that which cannot be changed) ,

 on( obligation), and gambatte (perseverance)  are constant in how they processed the indignities of war and racism. The stories told by these Japanese-American men must be universally shared to end all wars and man’s inhumanity to man. Simply, fill each household with a copy of this book.

The Go for Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage was created by Shane Sato and Robert Hosting.

On a very personal note, the following appeared in the Hawaii Herald in the May issue of 2017.

Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

There’s a piece of unfinished business in my memory that I want to share with the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team veterans on behalf of a stranger in Germany.

When I visited Germany years ago, an old woman looked at me and began to weep. She reached out her hand to me. When I went to her, she took my hand, kissed it and began to speak in German, tears rolling down her face. Her grandson explained that I reminded her of the Japanese-American soldiers from Hawaii who were so kind to her during World War II. Was I from Hawai‘i? Yes, I told her, and I know those soldiers.

For the first time in my life since Pearl Harbor, my face was greeted with tears of joy because of the 100th/442nd soldiers,

As a result, in my Dangerous Woman: Poetry for The Ageless,  I included the following poem to honor the Japanese – American soldiers who are still remembered and honored for their humanity while many of their families were in internment camps back home.

 

HAMBURG, GERMANY

In the Philippines,

World War II follows me into the night.

“Stay indoors after dark, people still remember

Japanese soldiers on Corregidor.”

 

My sixth-grade student writes in his journal

“December 7: I hate the Japs. I wish they were all dead.

My grandfather told me about them.”

 

In Hamburg, a woman, lined with age

Holds my hand and weeps to me in German.

I remind her of soldiers from Hawaii.

She has not forgotten their kindness long ago.

 

Our tears taste the same

In German and in English.

We are the only ones standing

In the aftermath of wars.

 

  • From: “Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless”

by Frances H. Kakugawa

 

 

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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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When I was in high school, Russia and Communism were taboo subjects; they were feared into silence. One day I read where poets were the most feared in Russia and my passion for poetry empowered me and I became less and less fearful as I kept on writing. I felt the more poetry I read and wrote, the weaker the enemy became. Nothing has changed so we keep on writing.

Poets for Peace

Each time a poet
Puts pen to paper,
There is a sliver of hope
For Peace.

from my Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless

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I wrote this poem for a Vietnam veteran whose job it was to fly his helicopter down to villages in Vietnam, after our bombings, to save as many children as he could. Space limited his work. He painted what he saw…children as logs…when the war ended, his superior officers threw all his paintings into a bonfire. Vietnam limited whatever relationship we could have had.

 

The Wooden Soldier

 

The wooden soldier marches

As he was wound to do.

Steadily, rhythmically,

Mechanical precision.

The only dislocation

Between manufactured knees.

The wooden soldier marches

Then stands perfectly still,

A soldier no more

But a wooden peg.

 

But the soldier I know

Keeps on marching.

He keeps on beating

For he has no key

To stop him from seeing

Dislocated limbs

Of children on children.

He has no key

To stop him from smelling

The river of blood

On Sunday afternoons.

 

Forgive us, O Soldier

For factorizing keys

Only for soldiers

On wooden knees.

Forgive us, soldier

For mechanized birds,

Wooden logs and battlefields.

frances kakugawa

Golden Spike:Naylor Co., 1973

Reprinted in Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless

 

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Golden Spike

 

The signs were there: when students need to talk

They hang around my desk, playing with my stapler or

Realigning my pens and pencils until there is privacy

For courage to emerge.

 

“Sometimes”, she quietly started , “I get up at three in the morning

And hear my dad crying. I go downstairs and he’s sitting on

Steps, crying in the dark.

He was in the Vietnam War; He won’t talk about it

But I watch him cry a lot.  He can’t sleep. I know because I always

See him on the steps. I wish I knew how to help him.”

 

Damn! Here’s that war again.

No child ought to be wakened  at 3 a.m. by a father’s tears.

No child ought to be sucked in, to twenty five year old wars.

No child ought to have dreams of crayoned images

Disrupted  by black ashes.

 

I wasn’t trained to undo the nature of war.

So I gave her a copy of Golden Spike.

“ I wrote these poems about the war.

Maybe your dad will find this book helpful.”

 

A few weeks later, in her class journal: Private to Miss K.

My dad is always reading your book. And he’s not getting up anymore,

He’s not crying anymore. Thank you for helping him.

Is it okay if I keep the book a bit longer? He wants to know,

Did you know someone from the Vietnam War?

 

“Yes”, I wrote in her journal,
“I knew someone just like your dad.”

 

On the last day of school, once again she stood near my desk.

“I’m sorry we still have your book, but my dad

Is still reading it.  I hate to take the book away from him.”

 

“I gave that book to both of you. I’m so glad

My poems help him.”

 

She held on to our hug, whispering,

“Thank you, Miss Kakugawa.”

from Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless

 

 

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Hawai’i Herald is publishing the following:

There’s a piece of unfinished business in my memory that I want to share with the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team veterans on behalf of a stranger in Germany.

When I visited Germany years ago, an old woman looked at me and began to weep. She reached out her hand to me. When I went to her, she took my hand, kissed it and began to speak in German, tears rolling down her face. Her grandson explained that I reminded her of the Hawai‘i soldiers who were so kind to her during World War II. Was I from Hawai‘i? Yes, I told her, and I know those soldiers.

For the first time in my life since Pearl Harbor, my face was greeted with tears of joy because of the 100th/442nd soldiers.

As a result, in my forthcoming poetry book, I included the following poem to honor the Japanese American soldiers who are still remembered and honored for their humanity while many of their families were in internment camps back home.

 

HAMBURG, GERMANY

In the Philippines,

World War II follows me into the night.

“Stay indoors after dark, people still remember

Japanese soldiers on Corregidor.”

 

My sixth-grade student writes in his journal

“December 7: I hate the Japs. I wish they were all dead.

My grandfather told me about them.”

 

In Hamburg, a woman, lined with age

Holds my hand and weeps to me in German.

I remind her of soldiers from Hawaii.

She has not forgotten their kindness long ago.

 

Our tears taste the same

In German and in English.

We are the only ones standing

In the aftermath of wars.

 

  • From: “Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless”

by Frances H. Kakugawa

 

Read Full Post »

When I was in high school, Russia and Communism were taboo subjects; they were feared into silence.  One day I read where poets were the most feared in Russia and my passion for poetry empowered me and I became less and less fearful as I kept on writing. I felt the more poetry I read and wrote, I weaker the enemy became.

Poets for Peace

Each time a poet

Puts pen to paper,

There is a sliver of hope

For Peace.

from my forth coming poetry book: Dangerous Woman….

Read Full Post »

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