The poets, in droves

Lick their pens, salivating

Over metaphors, turning

Death into life. It must be

National Poetry Month.



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!

Beware of Childhood Wishes


Oh no, instead of toilet paper, I should have put hair color on top of the list.

And I should have married a hairdresser.

My head has always been cared for by hair dressers from hair cuts, shampoo/ blow-drys grey root color.

When I was a child living in a village, my father always gave me  short haircuts because hair lice often sent the cafeteria manager into classrooms to give an “uku” test, checking each head for lice.  We always had those Japanese  bamboo lice combs in our house. We called  them ‘uku’ combs, lice in Hawaiian.  I always wanted long hair like the other girls.  When my hair began to grow and I could stretch my tongue to the side and touch my hair by pulling them to my tongue, it was time for another haircut.

Then the fashion experts said people with a long face like mine need to wear their hair short and succumbing  to experts, I never had hair growing below my chin.

Now, with  hair salons closed, if you see a woman with a long grey pony tail,  please tell her, “I like your hair.”



Had my best 45 min walk around the closed mall this morning. I saw a group of naked homeless men going through the trash bins by Men’s Warehouse. They seemed so happy, laughing and passing pieces of clothing to each other, trying them on. I pretended I didn’t see them, oh but I did. It made me think that when we toss out clothing, we ought to leave them on top of our trash bins so no one needs to go through trash.

I went to gas up the car and a driver began walking toward me and I motioned him to stay away. He wanted a few dollars, evidently he didn’t have money to pay for gas. After getting into my car, I rolled down my window and pointed to the $5 bill I left by the pump. As I drove away I heard him yell, I LOVE YOU!!! Naked men and I Love You in one day is pretty good.

We are in total lock-down. Take care out there and take care of yourself and your neighbors and naked men, too.

I didn’t think I was old. I thought when Andy Williams sang Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Younger than Springtime,  he was singing about me forever. Two days ago, I had to check my birth certificate when our governor said all old people  must be home bound. He can’t be talking about me. Oh no, he was talking about me. So I’m home bound like all the other old people. One last word to you, Coronovirus, and Governor Newsom,  for destroying my delusions.


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 Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless by Frances Kakugawa





To my Big Island friends, I cancelled my April trip to Hilo due to the Corona Virus. Will not participate with my Wordsworth mouse poet in the Merrie Monarch parade nor will I be having a book event at Basically Books as scheduled. Thank you, Patrick Toal of the Alzheimer’s Assoc, for all the planning you have done for the parade. And Christine Reed of Basically Books, I hope we can do this at another time. Thank you.


ThanLetter to the Bee

Thank you, Sacramento Bee, for publishing my letter to the Editors. This is in response to a story they ran on education. They had hired a dolphin trainer who worked well with dolphins and children to teach in a poor school district.  I saw red when I saw this, having spent my whole career with our children. They deleted my line “Our children are not dolphins.”

For teachers and parents who work with children, please check out my book on how children learn best: Teacher, You Look Like a Horse. We certainly don’t feed them fish for every right answer.


I will be presenting a session called Capturing a Haiku Moment tomorrow for the International Ikebana Society. I’m reminded of  a similar session I did some years ago. Here’s hoping for a successful afternoon even if the children won’t be there.

Scheduled to “teach” a Haiku Poetry Workshop at the Asian Pacific  Heritage Celebration at the  Foster City Library, I prepped the room by taping haiku poems by Basho, Shiki and Shosan on the walls

Imagine my jolt when I walked into the room and saw children and adults. I was expecting an adult only audience. I took a deep breath and said, “I’m going to direct the next hour to the children, so adults, I hope you’ll be able to rise to their level.”  Laughter.

It was the children who responded, disregarding the age differences in the room.  They turned into artists and described each of the images created by the poems on the wall.  “Isn’t it amazing?” I asked, “that you are able to get such clear images in your head through three lines of words, 17 syllables. ”

We wrote a group haiku so they would experience the mental and creative process of writing a haiku.

The image was the most important, not the 17 syllables. Let’s get the image down first.

The lst draft had the following syllables 4-6-4. We returned to the draft and edited until we had the 5-7-5.  We had agreed to go for the 5-7-5 form.

The children gave the lst two lines and one adult male added the 3rd.

His line read: Sound of a truck.

A youngster added, “How about changing truck to “engine.” And so the discussion began between children and adults.

I quoted Basho’s “Learn of the pine from the pine.” Everyone wrote one or more haiku.

They understood Basho…capturing the ah-ness of the moment without metaphorical language.

They understood the preservation of a haiku moment by using words without personification.

They understood how we learn of the pine from the pine.

When I left, a 9 year old boy was sitting alone, working on his 3rd haiku. An adult, whose eyes had shone like the children, plan to form a haiku group.

The workshop supported my stance on writing and reading. Why do we attach age or grade level to reading? One never hears of  a 20 year old reader.  Yet, we say, he is reading at the 4th grade level. Why do we attach age to literature? Why do we call them children’s books?

Do we speak of a book for 30 year olds?

I’m often asked about the age level of my Wordsworth books. I merely say, “I’ve signed these books for unborn children to adults.”

In that room, there was no age.

( The latest study speak of  our congressmen and women conversing at the 10th grade level. Tenth graders, ask for an apology for  this insult.)







Hey Mr. Trump. You blamed the fires on CA for not cutting down our trees and now you’re proud of saying “Plant a trillion trees for climate change.” If only it were that simple.

But you’re too late, my little mouse poet already started this in 2012 with his book Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer! If you want to truly be the first of all Presidents, how about appointing a literary poet mouse as your EPA director?WW bulldozer cover

The Color Yellow

The Color Yellow


The newspaper Le Courier Picard in northern France had this headline regarding the Coronovirus: Yellow Alert!

Many places are banning Chinese patrons, especially in restaurants.

After Pearl Harbor, many Chinese wore signs saying “I’m Chinese.”  A Japanese person from Seattle told me he wore this sign in high school to protect himself.

Is it time for me to wear a sign saying “I’m Japanese?”

In Home-Making class during my sophomore year in high school, we were told we Japanese can’t wear the color yellow because it would blend in too much with our yellow skin. So obedient me who thought all teachers were smart and right, I avoided the color yellow.

Well, look at me now? What do you think? Can you see me?

(I had problems posting a smaller version of this photo.)


My Bloody Tongue

The doctor walked me out the door and said, “People your age are in nursing homes.”

I  bit my tongue and didn’t say, “I escaped.”


During another visit with a doctor, we exchanged book titles as we usually do and checked on  what books were on our nightstand. She looked at the jacket cover of my new Echoes of Kapoho and asked, “Were you alive?”

I bit my tongue and didn’t say, “No, I’ve been dead for awhile.”


Sales clerks, in their efforts to be friendly often compliment me  with, “Your English is very good.” I bite my tongue and don’t say, “Thank you, it means a lot since English is my 9th language.”


Or to those who ask, “Where were you born?” I bite my tongue and don’t say, “On planet earth just like you.”


Once I didn’t bite my tongue and felt clever all night. At a political rally, a candidate walked over to ask me, “Is your husband here?”

“Oh, I’m not married,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Oh, but I’m not” I said.

He stood there stunned at my response and silently walked away. It was a good thing I wasn’t the candidate because I would have lost a vote right there.

So, what will it be, a bloody tongue or silence.

Come share yours.