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Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

A Poet-Dad

A Poet/Dad and his Poet/Son

We turned into poets in all of my classes, grades K-6 during my teaching career. Robert Webster was a sixth grader at Nimitz Elem in Hawaii. One day, I watched him write the last line to a poem. Beads of perspiration rolled down his nose. He dropped his pen and I heard him whisper, “ I’m all poemed out.”

Here’s an excerpt from one of his poems.

“Writing is wonderful.

It is a thing that can make the dumb speak,

The deaf to hear, and the blind to see.

Writing can bring out true emotions

That we usually don’t see,

And it brings out our true selves…”

The rest of this poem appears in my book, Teacher, You Look Like a Horse. Robert helped to write the last chapter with a few other students. They were all adults then, but still listened to their teacher when I asked them for help. Robert never left. After sixth grade, he stayed in touch through high school and college and now as a father to three sons with wife Erica.

I have lunched with Robert and his family in New York City twice and the poetry man is still there. How wonderful to have a poetry man for a dad.

Here are three poems from the next generation of Websters, written by son Samuel when he was eight years old.

Me and My Cat

Tommy loves it

When I scratch him under

His chin.

You can sleep in my bed,

Tommy.

Do you want to read with me,

Tommy?

Now this is relaxing!

Sunny Day

Today I woke up

On a sunny day.

I went to my friend’s house

On that sunny day.

I played throw and catch

At my friend’s house

Until it was dark

On that sunny day.

Monkey

Crazy, cute

Running, climbing, swinging

Eating, jumping, sleeping

Bananas, trees, vines

Hairy, agile

©Samuel Charles Webster

8 years old

Guilderland, New York

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Thank you black crow

For your company this morn.

Are you Poe’s raven

Calling Nevermore?

 

Thank you majestic oak

For the symphony above

Hi C’s, low C’s

A chorus of chirps, baton free.

 

Oh, sparrows, sparrows

Wait, wait, you can’t go

Seven on a telephone line,

Complete your haiku ere you go.

 

Such was my walk this Friday morn,

Around the silent mall

With nature’s best

For companionship.

 

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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.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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wm ww

Dear William Wordsworth,

A friend visited your home recently and brought back photos of where you wrote your poetry. I, too, am named Wordsworth and I, too, write poetry. Not in an English home such as yours, but in my little mouse hole in Hawaii. Yes, I am a mouse poet.

The 21st century must seem unimaginable compared to your life in the 1700-1800’s.

And yet, Mr. Wordsworth, our poems cross all centuries. Your poem below still speaks of the need to preserve our natural environment, otherwise what images will poets see on a lonely walk? Concrete?

”I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils.”

Contrary to your poem, my poems speak of preserving what was so natural in your century. Mr. Wordsworth, there will be no daffodils in our world soon.

The Bulldozer

there was a place I sat and wrote

to music played in my concert grove.

 

branches rubbed against branches,

coconuts dropped to the ground.

vines snaked and squeaked their way

seeking the hot noon sun.

 

frilly fronds danced the wind,

lacy limbs brushed their leaves.

sparrows, mynahs spattered notes

low c’s, high c’s and in-between.

 

it was a place for violins, cellos,

trombones, flutes, and  piccolos, too.

Oh, what music to my ears.

Then the monster came.

 

gachump!

gachump!

gachump!

he gobbled up notes

oh, what a beast.

he chomped and crushed,

grunted and groaned,

belched and gobbled

everything in sight.

 

oh, what a monster,

oh what a beast

to eat my trees.

to eat my trees.

Wordsworth fell asleep thinking, “Gachump, Gachump.”

from Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer!

It is an honor bearing your name, Mr. Wordsworth.

Aloha,

Wordsworth the mouse poet.

 

 

 

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Hi Folks,

Do let me know if you plan to join us…fhk@francesk.org

GCW flyer

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I was privileged to be on two syndicated radio shows: on the Dave Nassaney and the Neil Haley Show. The first hour long interview on poetry and caregiving with Dave Nassaney  can be heard  on April 15 at this site  at 1:00 p.m.  Thank you.

http://healthylife.net/RadioShow/archiveDTD.htm

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Men in Disguise at Book Signings

 

“Did your husband write all these books?”

He was in the audience a few minutes ago.

Yet, here he stands in his three piece designer suit

Scanning book titles with furrowed brows.

 

“Idiot,” I didn’t say, “Would I be sitting here,

Two hours on my hemorrhoids

Signing someone else’s books

With carpal tunneled fingers?”

 

At Barnes & Noble in Hawaii,

The FBI disguised in a loud Aloha shirt,

A wilted orchid  lei, a camera strapped like a gun

Interrogates me.

“You wrote these books?”

Not satisfied, he grills me over hot coals again.

“You? You wrote all these books?”

 

Ready to turn the lamp on me,

He turns to his partner.

“Martha? Martha? Come on over.

She said she wrote all these books!”

Expecting the click of handcuffs,

Water boarding or worse,

I remain silent.

 

A man in his black robe

Sits on the Court bench.

The Advertiser news  story of my poetry book

Spread across his lap.

“A Japanese woman publishing poetry…

No Japanese man” he prophesized,

Is ever going to date her.

She crossed over into the Haole ( white) world

With this poetry book.”

 

Yes, Your Honor.

Japanese. Woman. Poet.

Guilty as charged.

 

Frances Kakugawa

 

 

 

 

 

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Becoming

 

Never laugh at the elders

Who meet at MacDonald’s in Hawaii

Never laugh at their animated conversations

On trips to Vegas and the best ramen at Hotel California.

 

Never laugh

Because eventually you will become them

As I have these cold winter months

After working out at the gym in early morn.

 

I walk across the street to La Bou

Stop by three or four tables

To exchange greetings with the regulars.

Monday through Friday, one conversation

Is a recording…

She speaks Spanish, I speak English…

We say Buenas Dias, Gracias and more Buenas Dias.

And smile without translation.

 

Are you that youngster at a table

Laughing at my limited vocabulary

Swearing you  will never succumb

To life of the elders

Who drink the same bitter coffee,

Morning after morning

Staring at the world that never changes

Through last month’s spider webs

Except for a tree that reminds me

The seasons of my life are alive and well.

frances kakugawa 1/22.19

 

 

I

 

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08-2018_Caregiving A dignifed LifeDrop by to say hello if you’re near the library.

 

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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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