Thursday, February 25, 2010

Big Scream is out.


I sank into a florescent
pink-green margarita. A stubborn,

modern artist scribbled the colors
into my mouth, throat, stomach… Prickly

grains of salt
on the rim and a crescent-green

lime abused
my lips and tongue.

I drain half a gallon of colors into
a toilet. While a stranger rubbed my back, I saw

Dove soap, my mother’s smell.
She was in a lemon nightgown when I left.

She held me, radiating
a heavenly aura of motherhood

like saints in religious art carry
a halo of holy light.

A scab remained
on the harsh outline of my drunken face.

I picked and flicked it away with my long nails.
I wished I could be the scab.


My grandmother wears a faded
green apron and always eats

pickled Japanese radishes

grains of rice

or oranges

but she is losing weight
for the paulownia casket

no ash for her bones

she writes sales slips; no letters
with her worm-like hand

her parchment fingers

she gave me a lump of sugar

no expiration date for sugar
it conceals my tongue

and tastes bitter

like falling ash
from a cremation

sunlight bakes the blue blinds
a sugar jar in a Chinese cabinet

she still writes the slips, worries about money

in the smallest kitchen
the smallest island

where I was born

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Something White Project Update

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Customized Thank-You Wedding Postcard
(Designed by Naoko Fujimoto)
Our wedding ceremony is this coming Saturday.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Writing Carrier
How I am Going to Teach Japanese Writing

I had a job interview at a Japanese public school in Chicago-land. My position has not been finalized yet; however, I am likely going to teach Japanese composition classes to Japanese high school students.

There are about 600 Japanese students (from kindergarteners to high school students) learning at the school. Most of their parents work for Japanese companies in Illinois; therefore, the students are pretty much depending on their parents’ work schedules. If their parents decide to go back to Japan, the students have to be ready to transfer to another public school in Japan immediately.

I am going to teach high school students, whose parents are probably staying in America longer than they had expected, so the students go to regular American schools on the weekdays and receive a Japanese style of education of language and math at this school on the weekends.

I have already received a question from a reader of why I have to teach Japanese to Japanese students. Even though these students know how to use the Japanese language, it is still challenging to write academic papers using the language. It is similar to how most American students have to take English writing composition classes when they are freshmen at a college and many are actually shocked at their first poor grades. In addition, most Japanese universities require academic essays in their entrance exams.

So, my mission is to teach the high school students how to write to give their papers a fighting chance in Japanese college entrance exams; just in case their parents decide to go back to Japan before the exam cut-off and they need it. Then, I worry— I am not afraid of high school kids because I had already survived the legions of freshmen at Indiana University South Bend— I just worry about my own ability to write exemplary academic essays in Japanese and transferring that skill set over with solid confidence.

If I am not confident in my ability to write well in Japanese, it’s going to impact my ability to teach others to write in Japanese. Certainly, I am able to speak the language to great effect, but I need to educate myself on how to use appropriate diction, syntax, conjugation and tense structures, Chinese characters knows as Kanji, and composition structures. Maybe I should start writing blogs in Japanese...

I have been writing essays, columns, and other creative works for six years; however, all of those are in English. I thought that I am one step closer to mastering English writing, and then the universe asks me to become a master of Japanese writing right after I graduated as an English major.

Writing in Japanese is of course as challenging as writing in English (with a 60,000 character alphabet full of homophones). As I said, knowing Japanese (even having teaching experiences in Japanese) does not mean that I can make the students write a fantastic academic paper and pass an entrance essay exam at Tokyo University.

But, I am excited to take this challenge. It will be a great chance to educate myself again about writing, so I started reading books that inherited from my grandfather on how to write Japanese essays. Now, I am appreciating he who gave me these books on his death bed. He was sickly skinny at the time, but he grabbed my arm and made sure that I put those books into my backpack. Those books were insanely heavy to hoist overseas; but I guess this is another story of what I groaned about before helping me out now. I wonder if the students will think the same thing about these classes when they think back to them in front of an imposing exam in the future.

Monday, February 1, 2010

"An Improvisation" is accepted in "Bayou Magazine" and I forgot to post the poem on January 4th.


My fingers tap the ivory. Scimitar
nails tick triplet beats. My high heels trample

down the earth. Crescendo
notes leap

at the maestro whose pomaded
mustache pulsates. He sneezes. I fire

silvery trills that vibrate his crimson
bow tie. While I turn a page, the bass clef

howls and my hair rises against gravity. I am shocked.
An electric execution. When smoke

whirls around my head, my fingers
flash like needles on the black keys. My hips leave

the chair and I fly over amber
hills like a swallow

cutting the mist with its face;
its wings in the chilly autumn morning.

The maestro taps his pencil on a desk.
My fingers freeze.

A feather falls into the mud.