Posts Tagged ‘Poetry Month’


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!

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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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pens for blog

The poets in droves

Lick their pens, salivating

Over metaphors, images, turning

Death into Life. It must be

Poetry Month.


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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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caregivers capture

the ah-ness of a deep breath

a haiku moment


There is a magical process occurring among the caregivers in our poetry support group as I write this.

Who would have thought a few minutes devoted to haiku writing would have turned into a haiku marathon. Within hours, emails  arrived with haiku poems  written by my caregivers. I am possessive here since they belong to my poetry support group.

Their  haiku poems which appear below, show what happens when a simple form of poetry is put into the hands of caregivers, post and present, whose minds have no locks. Just as they have taken every aspect of  caregiving with diligence, bravery and  love, they  have taken their pens to still another level of being artfully human. Caregiver Julia Couzens  insightfully called this  new adventure,  “the art of distilling the now.” Ah Basho, Shiki, Buson, are you smiling as you see how this art form has added still another dimension to caregiving: A haiku pause that takes only 17 syllables; a very affordable pause, time-wise,  in their busy lives, a pause that often takes them to other places.Here are a few from their incredible spirit…

          Caring for Papa

          Also working remotely

          It must be Friday


The door squeaks softly

 A sound “anybody there?”

 Morning has started.



 On lap, poodle sleeps

 Head pillowed on typing arm

 Small “woof.” Email sent.


At the computer

Haiku written and erased

Now, this one is done.



         sealed she in glass

         decisions print inked  black

         spring “spectations damped



Oh great banyan tree

With arms outstretched far and wide

In warm aloha.




Find the yellow piece.

A gnarled hand responds slowly

And finds the right spot.



The lone turkey hen

Limps slowly, trying to follow

Her feathered family.



 staring at computer

 groping for words of haiku

birds frolic in trees.



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Caregiving Haiku

Ah Haiku. I devoted the last 20 minutes to haiku writing today,  at our monthly caregivers’ writing support group. To jump-start their pens, I wrote the following tonight while listening to Charlie Rose.

It was an intense two hours as we, through poetry and conversations, explored dying, knowing when to let go,  and other aspects of caregiving that are making incredible life changes in all of us.  We meet behind closed doors to keep our laughter and tears within our walls. I walked out deeply moved by the depth of compassion and knowledge about self, expressed by the caregivers.

I dip pen in ink

Ah, my first haiku on grief.

Splat!A Rorschach blot.


She stares into space

I turn the volume up high.

We dance on waxed floor.


i tiptoe softly

in the silence of the house

how loud her absence

( appears in Breaking the Silence)

Won’t you add your haiku under Comments?

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the last poem of april

  a non-punctuated partner

how utterly boring

to have a partner

of perfection


how utterly utterly lucky

to have a friend

just like me


my silent voice

blind spots and spaces

that bring life

to the dead


white crested waves against

shoreline rocks

glass topped ponds

in still of winter


how utterly utterly lucky

to know someone

who cant be read like

a novel beginning to end


a partner without periods.

commas, dashes- apostrophes’

exclamation points! Parenthesis()

instead a partner covered with elipses…


how very very lucky

to have a friend

of such imperfections.

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               On Georgia O’Keefe’s Calendar and my Tulip

Your brush strokes


How many men, Georgia,

Suck into your art?

     Two Calla

     Lillies on Pink

     Purple Petunias

     Oriental Poppies

     Red Canna

     Blue Morning Glories

Who gave you entry

Into the pink

Of secret places?

Bravo, Georgia.

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See  full size image Artichokes were selling for less than a dollar yesterday. Reminded me of my Artichoke poem:


Did it grow

Layer on layer

Leaf upon leaf

Only for this?

With two fingers he took the first,

Hanging loose from the base.

He dipped it twice in hollandaise sauce,

Rake it once through his teeth.

He took what little was offered him

On the tip of that leafy green.

Then dropped it carelessly

Into a bowl.

Around the base he took it by number,

One by one, as with the first.

He ran each skin between his teeth

Until he came to a tighter fist.

He found the petals too soft to take

The mark of his teeth, the pick of his hand.

He scooped the petals, laid them aside,

He took his knife to scrape it clean.

Sliced it into fourths to fit his bite,

He stabbed each part for the rite:

Consummation of the Heart.

from Golden Spike by frances kakugawa

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