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Posts Tagged ‘Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii’

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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The Sea Meeting Pele

He explodes

Into a million

Molecules

As her fiery tongue

Laps into

His undulating loins,

Sizzling and burning

Every ecstasy.

frances kakugawa

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kapoho line

book signing kapoho

This is a quote from a statement made yesterday by someone:

“The Japanese do not talk about earthquakes, volcanoes, etc….”

So here I am at the Volcano National Park, signing my book: Kapoho:

Memoir of a Modern Pompeii. I begin my stories with Pearl Harbor and end with the lava

destroying my home village, Kapoho.

Below, I’m holding Charles Pellegrino’s book: To Hell and Back: The Last Train from Hiroshima at Barnes and Noble. The voices of  the survivors of Hiroshima echo out of the pages. And yes, we are all Japanese, btw.

b&n 1

 

 

 

 

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HI H Pahoa storyTo people of Kapoho and Pahoa, the Hawai’i Herald generously used my story on Madame Pele’s visit to both these towns as their cover story. My open letter to Pahoa, and an excerpt from my Kapoho book may be of interest to you. Thank you. Yes, that’s me on the porch in Pahoa village during my last visit in September.

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My grandmother’s house was the first to be destroyed by Pele’s lava flow in Kapoho. Today, another family’s house was the first to be covered in Pahoa. So many of us relocated to Pahoa. On my last visit to Hawaii, I visited all our neighbors from Kapoho  who now reside in Pahoa. How are we? What can we be except philosophers when it comes to the power of Fire Goddess Pele whom we respect and fear.  My heart goes out to everyone. The sun is shining out here but I feel the dark clouds and smell  sulphur in the air from memory.

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Kapoho’s history of being covered by lava flows is now Pahoa’s. And once again, our respect for fire goddess Pele is heard over and over again as seen in the excerpts below. I hope all the communities will be there for the residents of Pahoa just as they were for us, when we evacuated from Kapoho and relocated in Pahoa. Our hearts are broken once again.

 

An Excerpt from Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii by Frances H. Kakugawa

“Did you hear? Someone saw Pele facing Pāhoa. I think Pāhoa is going to be next.”

Kapoho cover
I was away in college, buried under my studies to get pidgin out of my mouth on my way to becoming a famous writer. I had no way of learning firsthand what was happening to my family and friends in or out of Kapoho. That panic later turned into anger as I shot bombastic arrows into my speech class. Instead of giving my prepared speech that day, I tossed it aside and gave vent to some improvised rage.

“Kapoho, my hometown, is being destroyed by lava as I stand here. In the snack bar downstairs, in the media and in conversations among many of you who have taken helicopter rides to view the eruption, I hear you saying things like ‘spectacular,’ ‘awesome’ and even ‘inspiring.’ The camera lenses and the firsthand sightings from low-flying helicopter rides only show Pele’s fire. That can be awesome. Spectacular, even, if Kapoho were just a piece of dirt, a nowhere place that nobody cares about. But Kapoho is where I grew up.

“My family has evacuated to my aunt’s house. I was there last weekend when my father’s name shrieked from the radio to identify the next house that was destroyed. My father’s response made me feel afraid for him as I watched his disbelief. I was afraid that his mind could crack like the land beneath our house, cracked wide open by earthquakes.

“My father looked at us and said, ‘That can’t be me. That must be another Sadame Kakugawa.’ It was spooky to hear him say that.

“My father is a simple plantation worker. He earns minimum wage to support our family of seven and send me to school. We depend on our thirteen acres of cane land to pay off our debts. Losing our home would just kill him.

“When my mother told him, ‘It is your house. There is no other Sadame Kakugawa,’ my father just sat there. I could see him looking for some way out. The hardest thing I had to watch that sad day was his resignation. He said, ‘If Pele wants my house, she can have it.’

“And that’s just one story, mine. There’s a village full of stories like this, and the saddest part is that there isn’t even a village anymore. You want spectacle? There’s a spectacle for you.”

I sat abruptly down. At least one person had heard me that day, because for the rest of the year, my lunches were paid for at the snack bar. All I knew about my benefactor was that he was a veteran.

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Drop by and say hello…these are my Fall lecture events:

 

Sat., Sept. 20 at 1:30 pm

Basically Books

160 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo, Hawaii 96720

I will be on a panel with other authors to discuss memoir writing based on Writing the Hawai’i Memoir by Darien Gee

Contact:Christine Reed

808-961-0144, Fax: 808-935-1553

Toll-free: 1-800-903-6277

bbinfo@hawaiiantel.net

www.basicallybooks.com

 

Wed., Sept 24: Hilo Hawaii @ 5 p.m.

The Art of Caregiving…

Hilo Alzheimer’s Association

County Office of Aging: Kinoole St.
Contact: Chris Ridley: 808-443-7360
Mon., Tues., Sept 29 & 30: Honolulu HI

Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society 18th Biennial Conference: Imagine 2030…Mobilizing

Our Communities Across Generations.

My session: The Future of Caregiving: Writing and Poetry to Preserve Our Humanity”

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach
Tues., Oct 7: Honolulu HI

Kapoho, Memoir of a Modern Pompeii

15 Craigside, 3:30pm

Contact: Cookie Nakai: cookie.nakai@15craigside.org

 

Fri., Oct 17: Leeza Gibbons radio Talk Show: Leeza’s Care Connection

Poetry and Caregiving

Time: 10 – 11 a.m.

 

Mon., Nov 17: San Mateo

Kimochi: 453 North San Mateo Dr

Time: 1 – 2:30

Title: I Am Somebody: Dignity in Caregiving

Contact: Liz Bissell (650-346-0849)

 

Tues. Nov 18: San Francisco

San Francisco Family Caregiver Alliance

1715 Buchanan St San Francisco

Title: I Am Somebody: The Art of Caregiving

Contact: Fumiko DiDomizio (425-931-2294) ex.127

 

 2015 ( Details to follow )
Maui

May:

Tri-Isle Resource Conservation and Development Council. Inc.
Kahului, Maui
Executive Dir: John Tomoso

November:

Maui County Office of Aging

 

 

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