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A POEM FOR THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN NO.8

I am writing poems adapting Japanese tsunami news/stories into the first narrative. What I can do as Japanese, I want to tell their stories to English speaking countries. The poem is fictional based on a real event.

***
MOTHER’S LIPS


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. She
spanked my hand when she found the stained

pillow cases on the futon mattress.

My grandfather stroked my mother’s shoulders.
It was very cold and scary. Sleep peacefully...
He recited a Buddhist prayer. I found
the lipstick
in her pocket. With my finger, I drew it on her lips.

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RHINO Poetry 2017 this Saturday, April 29, at The Book Stall

3 pm RHINO editors write poems-on-demand! Order a poem-to-go on any topic of your choice. RHINO editor-poets will compose a poen for you on the spot in ild school typewriters for a small donation to the magazine.

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Naoko Fujimoto was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan. She was an exchange student and received a B.A. and M.A. from Indiana University South Bend. Her recent publications are in Prairie Schooner, Hotel Amerika, RHINO, Cream City Review, and many other journals. Her first chapbook, “Home, No Home”, won the annual Oro Fino Chapbook Competition by Educe Press. Other short collections, “Silver Seasons of Heartache” and “Cochlea”, will be published by Glass Lyre Press in May, 2017. Currently she is working on her graphic poetry co…

Pre-Order "Mother Said, I Want Your Pain" Today!

"Mother Said, I Want Your Pain" (The winner of the Shared Dream Immigrant Contest, selected by Janine Joseph) will be available from Backbone Press (Spring 2018).

Of the collection, Janine Joseph writes:“I do not know/ if I am even right to be a mother at a right time,” discloses the speaker in the opening poem of Mother Said, “I Want Your Pain.” Evocative and startling in their unflinching clarity of image, these poems are inheritors of the aftermath of nuclear fallout and chemical warfare. They are tuned to the movement of transgenerational traumas. Grandmothers who “hid in a ditch with three horses” while B-29s shot bullets overhead, leave relatives who later ask of our bequeathed earth, “Is the land poisoned or not poisoned?” Here is a striking collection with a deft voice, poised even as it turns on or transcends an observation or emotion: “Grandfather watches TV on the highest volume,/ the howling-wind.”

Pre-Order Your Copy Today from Backbone Press!