Sunday, January 25, 2015

Prairie Schooner 2014 Winter

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

Saturday, January 24, 2015



I used to walk on this street to Grandfather’s house.

Puddles were always by the curb.

Over eleven years,

the ditch was made. Rain water flows.

By new fences, camellias broom.

This is a necessary development,

so when an earthquake happens, fires do not quickly spread.

When I am almost at the subway station, I see a woman like M.

Last time I saw her, she showed me her backpack and said,

“I have my passport and gaijin-card.”

She was a head taller than the other commuters.

“Are you ready to leave Japan?” She smiled a little bit and the train doors closed.

I am taking the train to Grandfather’s graveyard.

Uncertain fear fills the beautiful houses on the wide streets.

A dog barks. Somebody opens their windows.

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!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014



I counted the time under a non-mothered sky,

under a blanket with a cat curling behind its back.
He said, “If we live on Mars, we will see two moons.”

With shooting star stripes,

my mother used to wear a black apron.
She did not have a driver’s license. So
when I was sick, she took me behind her on her bicycle.

Like her apron,
I traced his winkled pajamas with my forefinger.

“Two moons— maybe two chances in a month,” he continued.

My earlobe is warm on his back.
I hear his heart like a metronome

in the constant moon light— counting from thousands of years ago.

His blood reached every part of his soft skin.

Somewhere on the Earth was dusk.

Some woke up, kept busy, had babies,

had miscarriages…

He turned over in his sleep. I closed my eyes too.
The night covered the bedroom but it was

always gentle. 

Friday, December 5, 2014



When I stumbled on the kitchen floor,
I actually believed in a counterclockwise wonderland—

colorful macaroons and a mouthful of sherbet. Dried

skin flaked in my long hair. It covered
my lineless back. I saw some moles.

Then, he called me, Sweetie—

without kissing my forehead.

Once he drilled a hole and hung a phone from the 1970s,
and painted the wall in a puke yellow.

How can I suffocate?

I shoveled a spoonful of instant coffee into my mouth.

Somewhere, there is an extra season of endless fields...
The postcard fell from the refrigerator.

Sweetie, he called me from behind a leather couch.

The TV remote is lonely on the carpet.

I wiped my hands with a paper towel and said, I am here.

Saturday, November 29, 2014



Then, I hate.

I hate the explosion of ivy leaves.

Since puberty, I should have known better—
holding his hand under the dinner table

or whispering and finding a gray hair

behind his ear does not mean anything.

I smell the ice-beaded Michigan beach.

A wild animal hibernates.

It hides until the air is warmer,
until its mating season.

Tweezers and pliers cover my heart.

You know— I am actually happy.

I have an afghan to cover my feet.

On a couch, a black cat jumps.

She plies off her transparent nails on my naked knees.   

With the noise of a reality television show,

I am still smoldering young in the worst way,

never learned how to kiss on a rainy day.

Thursday, November 27, 2014



If today is not October Seventh,
she is not standing over the bridge.
White scattering stars cover street lamps.
Spots are orange in my foot prints.
I think of her more than she thinks of me.
Don’t let the lamps go out.
I am too scared to sleep and my feet are cold
Ghostly clouds surround my head and whisper Bach’s song.
I still do not know why I couldn’t. I couldn’t guide her
and say, “Enjoy”—

Her body weighs almost nothing in the rippling river.   

Wednesday, November 26, 2014



The wind raises her long black hair,
beads of sweat roll down her white neck.

Laundry flutters like young leaves, 
never stop flapping between the breezes. 

She bikes on an endless country hill.
Come this way, short cut— she waves.

I follow her path, the sweet smell of her body.

That night, 

we lie on a blanket and she asks me to touch her.
Her head rests on my shoulder.

She says, “Smile.”

Her forefinger strokes my arm and her lips are warm on my clavicle.   

I stand up.

A small bitterness glows upstairs in our fourteenth summer. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014



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



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. 

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

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

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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Poem - 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!