Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Poem - KOI-KOKORO IS THE NAMELESS RIVER

KOI-KOKORO IS THE NAMELESS RIVER

Koi-Kokoro is one step before being in love;
perhaps thinking of him in the edge of Wisconsin,
or in the corner of a corridor, wishing to have the courage
to ask him to walk by the river
among floating bright poplar leaves
and stretched bat wings waiting for the rain to stop…
Instead, my Koi-Kokoro is the nameless river,
crossing cities and states to follow the lake— just flow,
don’t tangle me— the reeds slowly cover my heart.

Bring me scissors.

  
Through the torn black umbrella,
I see bats fly circles at four-thirty in the morning on the last day of summer.






Monday, November 24, 2014

Poem - THAT IS ENOUGH COLOR

THAT IS ENOUGH COLOR

He lives in a small house after harvested fields. 

Dewdrops creep down its patched straw roof,   
soaking his sleeves over the night and
my white sandals are stained in the summer dirt.

“Your thighs are beautiful under the sunlight,” 
he said holding a brush sketching my body.

The only brown is on the desk...

“That is enough color to draw the light,” he said without looking at me.

The afternoon warmth is slowly creeping away from the room.

His breath is still quiet—
..........waiting to catch the last lightning bug.



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. 


THE LESSON 
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


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ogura Adaptation Poetry Project - SOBA NOODLES

SOBA NOODLES
Inspired by the fifth waka from Ogura Hyakunin Isshu

The autumn is not so lonely, not that long a night as he said;
I write a letter remembering my first trip to Kyoto,
picking up ginkgo and maple leaves with him.

For the late lunch, he ate soba noodles but I only had a cup of coffee 
because my throat was tight with words— how much I missed him,
but I could not say it, instead I said – what I said, I do not remember.  

Past midnight, from the deepest forest, a deer walks on weathered leaves, 
and it cries like my confession, hoping he hears it somewhere
and I want him to say, “See you at dinner on Wednesday night.” 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ogura Adaptation Poetry Project - LUNCH TIME ATLAS

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

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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Poem - On The Blue Line

ON THE BLUE LINE
Inspired by Alessandra Simmons 
“St. Pachomiun of the Unemployed” fom St. Peter's B-List.


In the blue line from O’Hare Airport, 
St. Pachomius wiped windows and scraped chewing gum.
He sprayed seats; 
the hibiscus ocean scent filled the dark and musty inside.  

Nobody kneeled down toward the saint, 
but they said, “Now, the saint is taking over our jobs.”

They gazed at him—murderous in a way—eyes upon eyes. 
Their fists beat the rims of their seats.

“Where is my job,” the banging gets louder.
“How can I feed my family,” they kicked the backs of the seats.

They marched around the Saint and kept screaming,  
“Where is my miracle, where is my miracle?”

The hibiscus scent was gone, but human sweat remained.
  
Seconds later, they already forget St.Pachomius was here.
They quickly left from the train to where they belong. 

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:

ちはやぶる
神代も聞かず
竜田川
からくれなゐに
水くくるとは
--在原業平朝臣

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:

立ち別れ
いなばの山の
峰に生ふる
松とし聞かば
今かへり来む
--中納言行平

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:

君がため
春の野に出でて
若菜つむ
我が衣でに
雪は降りつつ
--光孝天皇

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*

Hotels: 
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 


Restaurants: 
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






Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hungry Beauty - Six Nations in Brussels, Belgium

Six Nations in Brussels, Belgium

My hubby said, "I want to eat good fish and chips."

We walked about one hour and finally found a British pub called, Churchill's. 

"Can I order fish and chips?"

The owner at Churchill's said with an authentic British accent, "We do not serve fish and chips." (I love international English, maybe because I have a heavy Japanese accent.) The owner's assistant suggested we visit Six Nations around the corner of Grand Place.

Often restaurants in the middle of very famous sightseeing spots do not taste good or have bad service because their location ensures customers will keep coming anyway; however, Six Nations was an exception.

They had the best fish and chips ever! And I loved my Caesar salad wraps. 

So, we wanted to eat their fish and chips again before leaving Belgium. But the restaurant was packed because people were gathering to watch a live succor game in England. Everyone held a bottle of beer and cheered so hard. We could literally not fit through the doorway and the people were spilling out into the street to watch the outside screen. Therefore we could not get seats for the night.

48-50 Rue Gretry, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
+32 2 203 07 33


Thursday, May 8, 2014

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

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The Fourteenth Poem:  

陸奥の
しのぶもぢずり
誰ゆゑに
みだれそめにし
われならなくに
--河原左大臣

In the end of the northernmost street,
like tangled ivy patterns on a kimono,
you make my heart 
twist and lose;
I am forgetting myself.

返歌
A poem written in response from me to Kwarano Sadaijin

I hate when my heart is twisted
and needs tweezers and pliers 
to unravel it,
un-reciprocal love is only
good for a young poet.