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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 from Florida (in liquid form), and the men asked for my company’s address.

“Blue Bird? How interesting a street name that is.”

At first, I did not understand why the men talked about a blue bird. In my mind, Big Bird from Sesame Street was dancing with the black oxide. And I thought about avian flu; that is why I cannot fit into the business world, maybe I am just ADHD. “Concentrate, Naoko!” I could not be distracted by my daydreams because I was using the company’s credit card.

I am sometimes amazed at how much money I spend every day. I work in the purchasing department, so my job is to spend wisely, not wasting so much as a penny. I tried to concentrate so I can communicate with the men from Florida.

“Ba-ru Bard?” I asked with my Japanese accent.
“How do you spell the street name exactly?” The man was totally confused.

I sounded the word out slowly, but my pronunciation was like “B-u-l-b-e-ar-d-e.”
It took seven minutes to make him to understand “Boulevard.”

I would like to admit that it is not my language problem. Most of the time, I am fine communicating with people on the phone—banks, insurance companies, hospitals, etc…people understand me well. And I realized that communication is not only my problem. The problem is that my scatterbrain characteristics and habit of talking way too fast force me to not appropriately pronounce words in English and Japanese.

I can write words without thinking, therefore ignoring Japanese polite grammar. I was typing an email in Japanese twenty minutes after five o’clock on Friday.

“The item is 7,400 Yen (~$93), thank you very much for your generous discount.”

Immediately after I sent the email, my boss called me. The cost was actually $7,400. No company would give me such a generous discount. Amazingly, I am surviving in this industry somewhere on the boulevard.

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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.

4-5 pm Featured reading by RHINO 2017 poets and editors. Copies of the new issue will also be on sale. Grab some RHINO swag--bookmarks and buttons and meet the editors and poets of this 40+ award-winning literary magazine.

Featured readers:

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.”

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