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A POEM FOR THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN

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

***

THE FIRST NIGHT

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 cars.....like tumble

weeds in an endless water desert. I closed
my eyes. The seat-belt bit my lungs.

.....Sudden stop; a branch
caught our car. We climbed up the tree.
Several cluttered waves washed away the car.

In the morning, we saw a police
car on the intact bridge. Our voice
disappeared into the shining

black sea water. I saw
a girl’s shoe drifting away from us.

I want to live.
My husband started
waving his scarf into the gray sky.
.....A helicopter appeared. It dropped

a rope like a spider thread.

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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…

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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.”

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