Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Requiem Poem for March 11, 2011

Thank you very much for your moment of silence for March 11, 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. My requiem poem from Natural Bridge.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Prairie Schooner 2014 Winter

My poem, Mugwort's Leaves, is on page 45. Please enjoy. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Berkley Poetry Review - Pushcart Prize Nominations

2014 Pushcart Prize Nominations!
November 20, 2014

Berkley Poetry Review was pleased to announce their nominations for the 2014 Pushcart Prize.  To read these poems, pick up a copy of our 44th issue from the store.

Steven Alvarez, “1522”

Kay Cosgrove, “A Western”

Dan Encarnacion, “Denomination.”

Naoko Fujimoto, “Sixty Seven Years Later”

Ryan Harper, “Hubble Creek”

Amy Newman, “After Robert Lowell Starves himself for Lent, a Seaplane Deposits Gertrude Buckman on Loon Islet and She Swims Across the lake”

Thank you very much for the nomination!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

David Dodd Lee's "Animalities"

I went to a fabulous party called "Beers Giving". I tasted varieties of craft and local beers-- I have not had many beers since my Belgium trip! It was a wonderfully artistic party meeting college writers/friends and professors; a reunion in a way. 

I was helping the host of "Beers Giving." I even drilled into three pumpkins to make lanterns. I have never carved a pumpkin before, but now I am pretty good at it after three huge pumpkins. I also drew a welcome board for the party in the picture. The quote is from a new poetry book by David Dodd Lee, "Animalities." His actual word was "Soda" but I changed it to "Beer". And I was aware that a coin cannot into a beer bottle... 

I was reading his book on the South Shore Line back to Chicago. There are many favorite poems in the book, but I would like to share one. His book makes my heart sentimental, like drinking lemonade with a little bit of life bitterness. 

by David Dodd Lee

The joy cannot continue,
cannot extinguish the fire in

.....the bathtub,
the sirens roving from room to room

in the small house just down the hill
from the seven large houses, candles in

.....every open
doorway. This is how you see in the dark, he says.

and he takes her hand in his hand, her hand
holding a yellow pencil, and he crosses words out.

David Dodd Lee's "Animalities" Available at Four Way Book

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ogura Adaptation Poetry Project - LUNCH TIME ATLAS

Inspired by the twelfth waka from Ogura Hyakunin Issuhu

I say, “Take my hand,” 
on a perfect day to climb up to the November clouds. 
My flat shoes fell off but we must reach the cracked sky.   
I look into his gray eyes and my mouth moves, “Almost.” 

When a microwave beeps in the lunch room,
he stands up and passes me down the stairs.    
Only his sandwich’s crumbs are spread on the table.  

Today is the forty seventh day—

 I could not say, “Do you like fried rice?”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ogura Adaptation Poetry Project - HIS HIDDEN HOUSE

Inspired by the eighth waka from Ogura Hyakunin Isshu

He hides in a mountain South East of Kyoto; 
without visitors and girlfriends, he paints words after words
and studies stories from nameless foreign cities. 

Once he wrote me, “What do you know about love?”

All summer long, I think of his meaning
when I wash my face and look at my wet cheeks in the mirror;
when I put cold cream on my legs;
when I listen to the radio in the car with the wind blowing.

After parking, I walk up to Mt. Ujiyama. 
At the end of the narrow slope, there is— 
catching my breath— his house. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Three Broomsticks and Tiny-Tiny Bacon

"Why do theme parks' meals not taste good?" I kept repeating this thought during the trip.

I dined at two restaurants & cafés that were supposed to be the best of all in the Universal Studios Orlando (from online reviews). I visited the Three Broomsticks Restaurant at Harry Potter's Hogsmead and Lambard's Seafood Grille in the San Francisco Area.

After the Dragon Challenge (a magical roller coaster feeling like riding a broomstick), I needed breakfast with a strong cup of coffee. It was a mistake to ride the coaster on an empty stomach (for me, my hubby was totally fine). I forgot to scream during the ride as I was not feeling well. I could not walk straight afterward and he left me to ride the second track of the roller-coaster (there were two rides from the same line), and he totally enjoyed it (jealous!). While I hate being more pale than my hubby, I was finally able to sit down at the Three Broomsticks Restaurant for breakfast. At the restaurant (in the Harry Potter movies), the usual suspects (Harry, Hermione, and Ron) drink Butter-Beer and enjoy dinning with their friends and professors. I am not familiar with the movies; however, I read Harry Potter in both Japanese and English, so I could accept what they offered for the menus in the atmosphere.

I ordered the Continental Breakfast (watermelon, cantaloupe, honey-dew, pineapple, and other fruit with a croissant and a blueberry scone), while my hubby ordered the American Breakfast (a tiny-tiny bacon and sausage link with a really small portion of eggs and two pinches of potatoes--we thought it was a joke at first). 

I loved the blueberry scone and our picture showed how wonderful the breakfast was; though, the total cost was thirty six dollars!! I understand that the theme park costs more than usual restaurants; with the amount of food and quality do not matching market value at all. 

At the theme park, waiters and waitresses were very nice. They smiled at me and some tried to greet me in Japanese. Their name tags showed where they were from, so we could have nice conversations about their hometowns. The service was very good, but if I go again, I would like to vocalize how unhappy I was with the food. I booked Lambard's Seafood Grille around the San Francisco Area for dinner because the online review suggested a smooth dining experience. I booked ahead of time, and I was really looking forward to tasting their clam chowder... 

I love trying new meals. My aunt used to be a chef, and my mother was a nutritionist. I have really high expectations about food when I chose restaurants. I read reviews and image what the meals will taste like. Unfortunately the seafood restaurant did not satisfy my greedy stomach.

So I quickly learned that the theme park did not provide good food. I went to the City Walk for the next day's dinner. I visited Emeril's Orlando Restaurant (because over 80% of the restaurants there were CLOSED due to renovations). I did not know him as a chef but I knew him as a character from Futurama (Elzar)! 

I had a fantastic early dinner--quiet (no screaming children or adults), fresh baked cornmeal bread (my favorite), and handsome waiters (which are always important). I ordered a simple hamburger and fish sandwich. They were very delicious. Fantastically, the total is about the same as the either of the first two restaurants in Universal Studios.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kennedy Space Center, Orlando Florida

It is always mixed a feeling, fantastic and nervous when I visit a new place. Especially when my budget and vacation time meet (miraculously I still have two day vacations), I must travel. My hubby and I decided to visit Orlando, Florida in the last minute. Airplane tickets from United Airlines were acceptable (and Double Tree Orlando by Hilton had a special discount).

On the first day, after renting a car, we visited the Kennedy Space Center. The most exciting and educational centers there were the real space shuttle (Atlantis), legendary Apollo Projects, the moon stone, and many other excitements. I booked tickets through their website; therefore, I did not have to wait in a long line (even though it was not a popular season to visit). I should have registered online ahead of time because I could have received $10 gift cards. It was my only regret and my hubby said "stop saying that."

The space shuttle Altantis was huge. I could see burn marks on the surface which told how tough it was to re-enter Earth's atmosphere so many times. Jet engine outlets (pictured right) are bigger than my parents' apartment in Japan.

I work for the tool industry and my company has business relationships with aerospace projects. I was so thrilled to think that maybe my company's products make these shuttle parts, or maybe I sold milling tools & equipment to one of NASA's manufacturing lavatories. What I do is a million galaxies away from an artistic-poetic field; however, it gives me different identities. I finally started appreciating my job with a non-poetic, sometimes dusty, rusty, and oily inside sales position.

In the Kennedy Space Center, there were governmental and commercial (private) facilities to showcase space shuttles and satellites. Space shuttles were made in the big white building (pictured above), and the shuttle was transported by a huge vehicle to its launching space. It takes more than 8 hours to get there. The road for the shuttle is very wide (pictured bottom) and I saw some alligators by the water along the road. 

Space Launch Experience was really shaky. I sat head down at a ninety degree angle for about a minute and a half. For actual astronauts, they have to sit in that position for eight hours. Astronauts explained that the launching experience is very close to the actual feeling. My hubby was a little bit disappointed because it was not as extreme as the video presentation (compared it to a massage chair). However, I was afraid to lose my earrings and leave the Earth. The Earth was beautiful from space and I felt zero gravity for about three seconds. Kennedy Space Center definitely opened my mind about space exploration. I feel that space is much closer than I think. If I visit the center again, I would like to try astronaut training activities and have a breakfast with one.  

After the Kennedy Space Center, we visited Cocoa Beach to have dinner. It was fun to watch surfers from Pelican's Bar & Grill. I have never had salad in a bread bowl; however, the garlic bread was really delicious along with popcorn alligator (it tasted like soft chicken) and seafood tacos.   

Friday, July 25, 2014

Poetry Reading at the Book Cellar

Poetry Reading with 
(from left) Alessandra Simmons, 
Naoko Fujimoto, Timothy Yu 
Wendy Vardaman, and Kristy Odelius, 
at the Book Cellar in Chicago on 7/24/2014

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Have a Happy Summer!

Are you having a good summer? I am writing! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Prairie Schooner

Prairie Schooner accepted my poetry!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Oil Painting Project - Drying

I cannot wait for the second project. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Oil Painting Project

My First Oil Painting Project
This Project was listed as one of my 2014 New-Years Resolutions 

Monday, May 19, 2014

#17 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

The Seventeenth Poem:


Even heaven
doesn’t have this beauty, 
the River Tatsuta
in ancient-Chinese-red
leaves on the floating water.
--Ariwarano Narihira Ason
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto

A poem written in response from me to Ariwarano Narihira Ashon

The Japanese maple leaves 
float down the river,
to the ocean under the moon,
decaying into a piece—
a part of the big blue waves.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

#16 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

The sixteenth poem:


I must leave now
to Mt. Inaba,
its pine trees wait for me but 
if I hear from you,
I will come back to you.
--Chunagon Yukihira
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto 

A poem written in response from me to Chunagon Yukihira

Over the mountains,
your friends wait for you
with whipped cream 
in the midnight coffee, 
just like your college days.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

#15 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

The Fifteenth Poem:


For you,
I go to the spring field
to pick young green
even on my sleeves 
snow is falling.
--Emperor Kouko
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto

A poem written in response from me to Emperor Kouko

My grandmother 
picks seven herbs  
and cook them with rice;
it tastes like salty and
spring bitterness.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Belgium's and Amsterdam's Best Restaurants and Hotels

A Random Entrance Door in Belgium. 
The country is so beautifully artistic. 

*All links will be lead to my articles in the blog*

People at the front desk were super nice. I had comfortable and relaxed nights in a foreign, unfamiliar country. 

Hilton Brussels City (Five Stars)
Place Rogier 20, Brussels,  BRU, Belgium 1210

NH Galaxy (Five Stars)
Distelkade 21, Amsterdam, 1031 XP Netherlands

Hotel Egmond (Five Stars)
Minnewater 15, 8000 Brugge, BE0453 730 168 

The following restaurants were the best with taste and service. My hubby and I visited many restaurants during the trip. I only wrote articles about the best ones.

Good local beer at Grand Place in Brussels: La Brouette
Belgian waffle at Grand Place in Brussels: Maison Dandoy Tea Room
Shrimp croquettes and steak in Brussels: Bonsoir Clara Brussels
Breakfast around antique market in Brussels: Le Point de Chute
Fish and Chips: Six Nations
Belgium traditional meals in Brugge: Bistro Maurice
Dutch Pancake in Amsterdam: De Sneeker Pan 
Pizza in Amsterdam: La Place 
Cozy local bakery in the Netherlands: Waal Kootwijkerbroek

Sightseeing Spots:
My most favorite museum in Belgium: Tin Tin Museum
Antique market in Belgium: Place du Jeu de Balle
My Japanese article about Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam
Meeting Windmill Masters and Walking: Kinderdijk
Red Light District : Rabbit from Amsterdam
The Cathedral of Our Lady, a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium