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Showing posts from 2011

Before the Sunset--Reading

2012 will be my fifth anniversary to be a published poet. I am very excited to join AWP for my first time and my poetry reading will be held in South Bend in May.

My first poems (Before the Sunset was one of them) were published in “Puerto Del Sol#44” in 2009. They were accepted by the former editor, Kathleene West, on Christmas day in 2007. I am thankful that she gave me my first chance in the publishing world.

Along with my poet friends, Charmi, Nancy, Amy, Ryan, Clayton, Alesandra, Jill, and ***drum sounds*** DDL, I am lucky to have this poetry community to help me poet forward.

Merry Christmas.

Only One Line

I showed an article to my mother in New York Magazine to point out my name.

I usually Skype her every weekend, but this was a Tuesday. When I texted her to ask for five minutes in Skype, she was busy practicing walking in her apartment with my father. I kept bugging her to get online because I have big news (which she interpreted as me being pregnant or something). In the tiny camera feed, I was proving that my name was actually next to the respected Swedish poet.

My mother seemed to be happy that my name was mentioned with those big names though she cannot read English and doesn’t have any idea what I am doing in the contemporary poetry world. She was excited to see my name with the words “New York” nonetheless.

In the magazine, the names listed are Will Hubbard (a best-selling poet in 2011), Naoko Fujimoto (no book publication), Tomas Tranströmer (Nobel laureate), and Walt Whitman (a legendary poet). In the tiny screen, my mother pointed out their credentials and said, “You have only …

Welcome to My 2010

I feel like 2010 finally started. The sun rises, Christmas ornaments shine, and I have been happy…so happy. Thank you, thank you very much (I am waving at you).

It took eleven months, maybe more than that to get where I thought I would have started here. In the end of September during my sister’s wedding, I wanted to divorce— my sick father did not want me to go back to America, my grandmother asked me to take a sleeping pill to calm down— because of my death metal-hubby’s drinking issues and the time it took to find a good job. On top of that, in early October, my company asked me to find a new job, and there were no publications yet this year. I can be on and on about my miserable months.

And then one manager asked me to be her assistant (in a way) in the middle of November. I have been working ok –things are so much better there—so I saved my job. I can pay my rent. Before then, my death-metal hubby cut his hair and has been working so hard as a researcher. His drinking issues have d…

New York Magazine -- Livelihoods of the Poets

Rachel Friedman wrote an article, "Livelihoods of the Poets," in New York Magazine.

My name was mentioned in the article! Thank you!
Tomas Tranströmer is having a good two weeks: On ­December 10, the 80-year-old Swedish poet was officially given the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature in Oslo, and on December 19, Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish a new edition of his verse. To get to this moment, he triumphed o’er what are perhaps the longest economic odds in the arts. THE WASTELAND
Estimated poetry M.F.A.’s awarded, according to M.F.A.-world blogger Seth Abramson, in …
2001: 700
2006: 1,000
2011: 1,400
Approximate number of jobs available to teach M.F.A. programs: 750Est. number of poems considered by editors of The Best American Poetry yearly anthology: 20,000
Number selected: 75The Bling
Representative Paychecks$460 for a 36-line poem: The New Yorker
$75 a poem: The Paris Review
$25 a page: Plough-shares
$10 a line: Poetry Magazine

Natural Bridge -- Accepted!

Natural Bridge is accepted two poems! Yes!

after Japan, 3/11/2011

I type numbers and sit in a black
chair for eight hours. Glass cloth
covers my eyes. Cold
sand fills my bones. A graveyard

on the hill is burning.

After the earthquake, a fisherman
runs to the fire. He carries
a clarinet and yells to me,

What else do you want?

My eyelids are sealed like wax stamps.
A tsunami pushes the flaming tombstones and boats.

Under the white moon, the fisherman
plays a clarinet concerto. He vibrates
the reed. In the ocean breeze, he inhales
human dust. I open

my eyes. I want


and then more lights.


Because I’m from Fukushima, I say, I’m not / radioactive, and eat / seaweed salad from a bowl. You / hold my hands as we share these long / silences. Because / I’m a Buddhist, I recite, Namu-amida-butsu, at noon / over lunch, and very late at night. But I don’t pray for the Japanese. I pray / for myself because I crave / a word. I want it to av…


after Japan, 3/11/2011

A woman lies with diapers full of sea water. Her legs remind me of a giant rubber band I shot in math class, summer 1993. I shot it at you, a love note landing on your thigh. I wanted for you to return it so my palm could feel your fingers like drops of eternal silver. That day spiderworts lined the streets in puddles going home. Your eye sockets were full of mud. “I cannot see my future,” you said as you plucked the rubber band. I stand up shouting, “Are you alright?” There is a baby underneath her. I smell my warm sweat.

AMPERSAND -- Prose Poem


I play Nazareth’s tango while you flap my yellow dress & hang it on the blue balcony. Your hands are dry like an entangled fish when its scales fall away after an ebb tide. You collect fish bones & line them up on a silver plate like a glockenspiel. A white fish is steamed in the red pot. I like to eat it with pepper & yuzu-citrus. Raindrops beat on the kitchen windows & insensible pavement. Here in the Midwest, I don’t smell rain like that. You look in the mirror at a lump in your breast & I live in rain years.

Poetry Reading on 11/20/2011

Thank you for posting pictures, Charmi.
DDL, me, Charmi,
right front featured poet Alessandra Simmons

Weekend in South Bend

I am thankful for the people I spent time with last weekend. I know that it is cheesy to suddenly be a thankful person before Thanksgiving, but I would just like to say 'thank you' to Charmi and her husband who welcomed me into their house and fed me very well. It was my very first experience sleeping with their daughter's big turtles. They watched me until I felt sleep. Then I had a wonderful breakfast with POETS! I am really looking forward to seeing Amy & Ryan's own online poetry magazine. I can clearly see that they are going to be great editors. And of course, thank you to DDL, who read a poem with me and was always a great mentor for my poetic experiences. The reading at the Fiddler's Hearth was full of energy. Clayton was a great producer and he gave me an opportunity to read again about 30 poems in May, 2012. I loved the performance of the featured reader, Alessandra Simmons. I hope I can meet her again sometime!

I was really thankful that my hubby's…

Poetry Reading at Fiddler's Hearth

I am going to read poems at Fiddler's Hearth in South Bend, IN on 11/20.
Thank you very much for the opportunity, Clayton & Charmi.

2:30 Brandi David
2:35 Judith Hizer
2:40 Becky Pelky
2:45 Chris Williams
2:50 Britanny Herrada
2:55 Tamara Nicholl-Smith

3:00 BREAK

3:05 McKenzie Tozan
3:10 Jeff Tatay
3:15 Jack Daly
3:20 Margaret Chapman
3:25 Nicole Koroch
3:30 Naoko Fujimoto

3:40 Featured Reader Alessandra Simmons
***Alessandra Simmons is from Los Angeles. She’s currently the editor of Indiana Review.


A Photo from Jill Alexander Essbaum

I am taking an online class. The instructor is Jill Alexander Essbaum. The photo was taken by her.

New Madrid--Accepted!

New Madrid: A Journal of Contemporary Literature is accepted two poems.
*** PEEL
My grandfather hides in a closet. “I’m not afraid of dying in this war,” he screams. Bullets
blotted out the sky in 1945. Flower-printed futon mattresses caught fire. Ash
stuck in my grandfather’s eyes. Like rotten fruit, only the skin held a human shape. His shoes were scorched.
Alzheimer’s doesn’t destroy war memories.
“Do you want to eat a tangerine?” I asked. He crouches in the closet, stroking his dried toes. I sit next to him. Cicadas
recite the Buddhist sutra. I trace the tangerine’s peel and think of your smooth body. My nails
pierce skin. Juice rolls down between my fingers. I lick
their tips next to the shaking old man.
Time and again; time.....and again; I sit .....and stay in my Japanese body; no
honeymoon: no dining table: eight months & three
thousand dollars to become an Asian or Pacific Islander
immigrant; it’s pending: I can do nothing: I am
nothing until it clears; I can’t hire you— se…

FOREIGN / GREY-- Prose-ish Poem


Because I’m from Fukushima, I say, I’m not / radioactive poison, and eat green / seaweed salad from a bowl. You / hold my hands as we share these long / silences together. Because / I’m a Buddhist, I recite, Namu-amida-butsu, at noon / over lunch, and very late at night after a long / day’s work. But I don’t pray for the Japanese. I pray / for myself because I crave / a word. I want it to avalanche into my eyes / like a kaleidoscope for the dead, but the sky / darkens as usual because I’m so / often lost in this foreign / grey. I take my two fingers and push / them into my breasts. I say, If I / die with cancer, for example? You rub / my left breast. My brown / nipples are so cold at 2:30 A.M.

Namu-amida-butsu is a phrase from Buddhist prayer.


..........after Japan, 3/11/2011

I type numbers for thirteen
dollars an hour and sit in a black
chair for eight hours. Glass
cloth covers my eyes. Cold

sand fills my bones. A graveyard

on the hill is burning.
After the earthquake, a fisherman
runs to the fire. He carries
a clarinet and yells to me,

What else do you want?

I stab
the calculator with scissors.
They slice my skin. Veins
overflow. White ashes fall on the granite

floor. I smell of my singed eyelids. A tsunami

pushes the flaming tombstones and boats.

Under the crescent moon, the fisherman
plays a clarinet concerto. He vibrates
his reed. In the ocean breeze, he inhales
human dust. I open

my eyes. I want


and then more lights.


I am taking Jill's online poetry workshop. For the first week, we discussed about Prompts & Ideas. I edited my poems with their posts.


The cranes are crowded in my mail box.

Seventeen blue
papers lay scattered on the floor. Buddha
folds one more for my shiawase.

He whispers, What did you expect?

My mother rings

a bell from her wheelchair. I change
her diaper.

A sudden noise
comes from Buddha’s stomach. He brings

me an apron. I open

the refrigerator and reheat
steamed rice and smoked mackerel.

From the white plates,
he feeds my mother and the origami

birds...........I wring

their necks.

My favorite prompts from the Online Workshop:

#1) Backwards
Like Sarah’s idea, I like to flip my poems as well. And then I kill my favorite unnecessary words and reorganize stanzas & line breaks.

#2) Ekphrastic
Like Tanya’s idea, I also like writing about art/paint. My obsession is Modigliani. I would definitely have a date with him.

#3) Steal attractive words from books
I al…



You say I’m a police officer,
what do you expect?

Our six-year-old son folds
a blue paper. He wants to bring
you shiawase. Seventeen

cranes lay scattered on the table.

You patrol the Fukushima
nuclear plant and breath in

and out the late summer air…

A sudden noise comes from our son’s
stomach. I turn on the kitchen
light and open the refrigerator. He

brings me an apron.

Steamed rice & smoked
mackerel are on the table.

Our son sits on your chair and feeds an origami crane.

The cranes are crowded
in your mail box. You

wring the birds’ necks and tear them to pieces.

Shiawase means happiness in Japanese.
100 Origami Cranes are a symbol of happiness & peace.
From my hubby with his first paycheck


"The First Night" was accepted by Spillway.
The editor is Susan Terris.

after the tsunami on 3/11/2011

A little yellow shoe drifted away. I
clasped my hands around a tree
trunk & smelled the endless

water desert.

When I was eight years old, I squatted
down in a futon-closet & waited
for my mother. My aunt opened
the closet with wheat bread

& eight boiled eggs.

Dear Mother,
Did you escape the land of sudden


I waved my hands to the silver
whistles of a helicopter in the morning
sky. It dropped a rope like a spider

thread three miles away from my tree.


Today is the happiest day in my life! Congratulations for my death-metal hubby.

Surprised Gift from Indiana

Necklace made by a.g.

Hybrid of Three Previous Poems

I conbined "Tokyo Water," "Green Wall," & "Fukushima Spring" and created a new poem. Thank you for the idea, Charmi & DDL.

after fukushima

Sprouts absorb droplets. Tadpoles
plop their black tails. I felt

a kick in my womb.

No nuclear plants;
we want to birth healthy children…

Japanese women march behind a wall of camphor trees.

You come back with bleach. I hate
the lemon fragrance.

God doesn’t help me…

The smell of laundry detergent blows from a vent.

The breeze & rain cause no harm,
But children must drink bottled water,

the Japanese meteorologist said. No

water is left in the supermarkets.

I break egg
shells and cook a pea omelet. Your finger

slowly drags

down my spine.
I smell the bleach on it,.....throw

the omelet at the floor.

The green peas roll between us.

The kitchen light is turned off. Beaded

Tokyo water trickles into the drain.

South Bend

Late Summer Reading List


After the tohoku earthquake & tsunami

Don’t leave my hand.
My daughter’s palms were soft.

The black houses crushed
a local library

Our home is only a broken gate.
I recite Mayumi in front of it.

Her body roams the ocean.
It deserves the sparkling white

bubbles,.....and slowly disappears.

Tonight’s full moon is the brightest in a year.

Happy birthday…
She would be sixteen.

The first draft on 3/22/2011.

Don’t leave my hand.
I look into my daughter’s eyes.

The black wave of houses
sweeps into my ribs; cold & heavy…

.....Two men drag me from the stream.

Home is gone
leaving only a broken gate.

The concrete
smashes her blue
bicycle. I wait

for her sitting on the rubble
and recite the Buddhist prayer.

A fence covered with tiny
notes about victims
leads to the morgue.

Female, a yellow apron with the crescent and three stars…

She was not in the casket.

Her body
roams the ocean current. Tonight’s full

moon is the brightest in a year. Her body

Poem after the Japanese Nuclear Disaster


I want to promise you spring…
Little white petals, a sweet

smelling daphne, blue-purple
morning dew drops on young leaves…

Sprouts grow into piano phrase notes.
Crocuses bloom in the garden. Cherry

blossoms are pink-inkblots
on a natane-rainy

day. I will walk in the rain
without an umbrella

and take you to your Japanese home.

Sleet turns to rain on my cheek. I felt
a kick in my womb.

Note: Natane (na-ta-nay)-rainy day is a rainy day in spring.

The second draft was...


I want to eat a daikon-
radish with a bowl of steamed
rice. Chips in plastic bags,

tuna cans, and add water
to instant food, I eat them on a thin
mattress on the cold floor of the shelter.

Home is calling me.

Sprouts grow into piano phrase notes;
tulips bloom in the garden. Cherry
blossoms are pink inkblots
on a natane-rainy

day. I want to walk in the rain
without an umbrella.

I am sorry—I cannot promise you spring.
I hold my hands on my womb

White little petals, a sweet

smelling daphne, blue-purpl…



The meteorologist said,

the breeze & rain cause no harm,
but children must drink bottled water.

No water is left in the supermarkets.

An early summer gust blows from Fukushima

and rain clouds cover Tokyo…

A water strider
splashes in a puddle. The spinach
field absorbs it. The leaves
sparkle with the droplets. Tadpoles

plop with their black tails. I open

a yellow umbrella and walk in the city.

The first draft was on 4/5/2011.

Tokyo sakura: cherry
blossoms; from the train
windows, I see Japanese
pink petals: the petals are blown
by the spring breeze: the nuclear
breeze ripples puddles; the meteorologist
said, the breeze; no harm, but children
should drink bottled water: no water
left in the supermarkets; I import
unpopular Canadian water;
again, I stayed overnight thinking about
water; a water strider wants to splash
the rain water; rain boots & rain coat & rainbow
umbrella; must wear sleek
to protect your body from the radiation; again
the meteorologist s…

The Phantom of the Opera

I finally feel like I’m coming back to the world—I was depressed as hell since last March—but now I am buzzing like a young girl when crushes on her teacher. I have been watching The Phantom of the Opera—my favorite musical since I was 12 years old—and I did not know that my death metal hubby accidentally had the movie from his former roommate and had it stored away for a long time.

Every night I giggle and dream about the phantom even though I have rough days at work—I have to arrange a shipment to Japan for two huge dog houses bigger than my parents’ bedroom, and I do not know why my company suddenly deals with dog houses. I thought that we sold tools, machines, and of course, wrenches. My concern is what kind of Japanese household can keep the two gigantic dog houses in their tiny apartment. They can live in the dog houses as their mobile summer home.

With those odd jobs for a week, I still have the angel of music waiting for me when I come back home. I simply set up the movie—finall…

Nadeshiko Japan

"Never Give Up" that I learned from "Nadeshiko" Japan. Thank you very much for teaching me. My spirit was still resonating after the game!

>>Click To:
FIFA Women's World Cup


So, I am working at a machine tool company, and the company sells tool holders, collets, and of course my favorite wrenches, high-tech German and Japanese live tools, and some French shrink-fit units. In short, they sell tools made of steel. People can make anything with the tools from artificial bones to arms for terrorists.

I am still a beginner in the machinery business; however, I like some aspects of my work. For example: I like the pronunciation of tools such as “collet.” I think that it is a brilliantly beautiful word in an oil-stained warehouse world. But I always hesitate to touch it because it is very oily. But I love the sound of “collet”, like yellow rain drops in the French countryside. But to tell the truth, collets are just like miniature version of C3PO from Star Wars.

I call many venders everyday and purchase various things that I have never thought of before. Actually, it is amusing to communicate with manufacturers from many states. Today, I was buying black oxide fro…

Writing Seed

Thank you very much my writer's friends who emailed and commented about my last post. I really needed their cheers and opinions.

Writers are difficult to fit into this horribly capitalized society--amazingly I am surviving in a business world selling wrenches after wrenches-- and in the end, they decide to be isolated from the community because they believe their identities to be writers.

This life crisis will be a part of my experience, and I will suddenly have a moment that tells me I must write. Keep my head up and once I get an opportunity to publish, I will fire that energy into the right direction. Right now, what I can do is keep writing and educating myself.

Suddenly, I felt my writing was as successful at my dating. I had a handful of relationships when I was in college; however, once I became 24 years old, all the boys were running away from me no matter what I wore. Even though I showed my naturally tanned armpits. I read a lot of girly magazines to learn how to attract me…

Freedom To Be Miserable No Matter Where I Am

My freedom is slowly being invaded by an anomalous energy--commitment--I cannot promise to behave like people expect me to--devoted daughter, lovely wife, and hard worker. I am thankful for my seriousness though, for I am dealing with my horribly sick father, crying & depressed mother, unemployed death-metal hubby, and everything else that I think of whenever I should be relaxing, or sleeping, or driving, or defecating.

I am not the type of girl who loves commitment; therefore, I escaped and ran away from Japanese society when I was sixteen years old. I moved away as far as possible. I love being alone and working toward my goal of being an aggressive artist, being free to explore contemporary artistic concepts.

Recently, I am really afraid of how I cannot balance freedom and commitment. There is no longer freedom for me. I can create time for art, but sadly art cannot be my number one priority. Paying rent for my apartment, organic peaches, arguing death-metal hubby, and placating …

Rowboat: Poetry in Translation

Matthew Thorburn,the author of Disappears in the Rain, informed me about a new magazine called Rowboat. The magazine is a collection of poems translated from other languages into English. In Poetry Daily, his review of the magazine is available.

As most people know, Japanese is my native language. Maybe it is a good chance to study translation (in poetry). Once I translated some Japanese poems from the 1980's; however, I would like to translate ancient Japanese poetry (different like English and ye olde English).

I am stuck in modern creativity, so I should learn something from history, my roots. My Japanese DNA may give me a click to the next level of creativity.

May I be a Poet?

I did not brush my teeth today. I slept fourteen hours and cried a little bit for no reason. I do not like Saturdays. I do not like Mondays nor Wednesdays neither. My non-favorite days include Thursday, Sunday, and Tuesday. And please do not forget about Friday.

I woke up at 7:00am today and looked for something to do. I needed to stimulate my brain with something creative; otherwise, I am really dying. I typed "Saturday morning job," "class," "workshop," and "poetry" into Google. I used to love a quiet Saturday morning. I used to love any kind of morning... now every morning, I scream the 'f' word in my car on the way to work.

My earthquake poetry project is still in plastic folders. They are slightly dusty. The first words still remain on the pages and are waiting to be killed and reformed. I want to be ready for fall submission packages, but I am not confident that will happen.

I fell in love with writing poetry very easily. It was mor…

Weekend Update

Ivan II's Three Year-Old Birthday

Hanging Flowers from a flower market in Mundelein, IL.

Morning Glory is waking up!

Fish from Lake Michigan. Caught by my death metal hubby.

His Proud Taco Salad
After the tsunami on 3/11/2011

A yellow little shoe drifted away. I
clasped my hands around the tree
trunk & smelled of the endless

.....water desert.

I squatted down in a futon-closet & waited
for my mother in the summer, 1993.
My aunt opened the closet with wheat bread

.....& eight boiled eggs.

I waved my hands to the silver
whistles of a helicopter in the morning
sky. It dropped a rope like a spider

.....thread three miles away from my tree.

Dear Mother,
Did you escape the land of sudden


The first draft on March 20, 2011.

I clasped my hands around the trunk;
smells of dark

sea water and dirt; no lights, no
neighbors. My husband’s cold
hand rubbed my cheeks.

When the tsunami
covered the village, the neighbors
drove up the hill; a long
snaking trail of taillights to the safe place.

Let’s leave our car…
and then the tsunami dragged
and trundled the tumble

weeds in an endless water desert. I closed
my eyes. The seat-belt…
Kill the words! Kill the title! I am working on editing my earthquake poetry series.


The smell of laundry
detergent blows from a vent.

You come back with toilet

bowl cleaner. I hate
the lemon fragrance.

..........God doesn’t help me,

I repeat & turn on the television.

..........No nuclear plants;
..........we want to birth healthy children.

Japanese school girls
march behind

a wall of camphor trees.

..........Where are the snow peas?

you ask in the kitchen. I break

egg shells and cook
a pea omelet for you. Your

finger slowly drags


my spine. I smell
the bleach on it, throw

the omelet at your feet. The green

peas roll between us.

The First Draft: 4/30/2011

Please help me God,
I repeat under the crescent
moon. It gleams on a snow

pea field. The purple
petals bobble in the wind. The smell

of laundry detergent
blows from a vent. I trace
a lozenge on my thigh. Seventeen

minutes before May, you open
the door with toilet bowl cleaner. I hate
the lemon fragrance. The TV c…

Welcome to Our Future Smart Home!

I really must have a piano, I said when I visited Heavenly Pianos
"Tokyo Summer, 1993" and "Mother's Lips" are accepted by Unshod Quills. Dena Rash Guzman from H.A.L Publishing is currently editing the first issue.

.....for y.h.

There is a bathtub in the parking lot.

I’m falling in love with an abstract
painting, you tell me. Your body

hisses in an August rain. We collect
dead cicadas in the bathtub

and sketch them for hours......This is a Tokyo
summer, 1993. A dandelion’s white seed softly

lands on the balcony. The cat
slashes open the window screen.

There is your head hanging by a curtain rod.

I don’t know how to live,
your mouth opens wide.

Dark and beaded rain
falls into the bathtub. I want to chop

off the cat’s legs and hollow
out its eyes. I’m craving

your warm body. Cicadas sing their silver song.
I love killing words.

.....after the tsunami in Japan

You have no father,
my mother said & wiped
my neck with a long
towel; I smelled the lavender
soap: bubbles on her
cheeks: the outline of her
lipstick: dark
purple around her lips;
they were unlike mine; I wanted
hers; I hated the garden
scent; no
lavenders please, I said;
just muddy
on blue vinyl sheets
at the flower
shop; sand & pebbles filled
my mother’s mouth; I bit
my lip: tasted blood.

The first draft on March 31.


When I was twelve, my grandfather took
me to a flower market. There were no
flowers, but dead bodies caked in mud
on blue vinyl sheets. I cleaned
my mother’s face with my handkerchief.

Every night, my mother boiled water
with a red kettle. A towel soaked
in the scalding basin. She wiped my neck,
cheeks, and behind my ears. She told me,
I am sorry you never knew your father.

After my bath, I sat in front of the mirror.
I touched my mouth, which is unlike
my mother’s. I grabbed her red lipstick. …
"7:30PM, RHAPSODY" was accepted by Alchemy Magazine of Literature & Art.


I pour oil. I fry perch,

minced onions and carrots.....and I
think of drowning in a car. My fists

bang on the windshield.

I haven’t turned off the stove.

My eyeballs float like loosed
white balloons. They search out

camellia in the water light. I must

recite Brahms’ rhapsody before my brain
numbs, before the perch shed their silver

scales in an upright piano

filled with darkening lake. No

bubbles. No words squeeze out of my throat.

I forget my Japanese name......I forget
I was once in my mother’s womb. My lungs

finally resign......Smoke alarm. I burned the fish.