Thursday, March 31, 2011

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.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A POEM FOR THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN NO.7

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.

***
THE FISHERMAN

I type numbers for thirteen
dollars an hour; converting Japanese
yen to U.S. dollars for eight

hours a day. My sick father says,
You’re healthy and safe. What else do you want?

After the earthquake, a fisherman lost
his boats. Three were found
in the supermarket
parking lot. The following

tsunami crushed the rest of them. My father adds,
The fisherman has a clarinet.

In my bed I drink
a glass of organic carrot juice. I turned
on the radio to my father’s favorite

clarinet concerto. Under the crescent

moon, the fisherman
plays it. Looking
down at his destroyed

hometown, he vibrates

his reed. In the ocean breeze, he inhales
invisible radioactive

dust
from the damaged nuclear power plant.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A POEM FOR THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN NO.6

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.

***
OVERNIGHT

Cars congested by unlit
signals. From the forth
floor I shouted, Run and climb. The tsunami
surged every five minutes. Waves
crashed oil tankers. The flaming
houses flowed with the burning
sea. I am cold. Help me, a woman
pleaded. Her hair absorbed
the oil and ignited. Then her scorched
head sank......God, please take her to heaven,
I prayed and
prayed on my shaking legs. In the evening,
I burned my necktie to keep warm.
My eyes were wide
open in the blackout. I wanted
the sun to rise. I wanted my mother’s warm
hands. I finally dozed off…

There was an annihilated
city in front of me. I stood
with only my cellular phone in my pocket.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A POEM FOR THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN NO.5

I am writing poems adapting Japanese tsunami news/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.

***
RADIO TOWER

Leave the seashore and run up
the hill after the earthquake.

I repeated it
from the steel radio tower.

The seaweed’s garden distorted. I saw
people climbing and washing

overboard like ants. A child was held
in its mother’s arm on the bridge.

They were almost to the hill.

My hand slipped
from the megaphone. I heard
my voice in the sea water.

Like a hundred
other ambiguous bodies,
my face turned clayey.

.....After decades,
clovers grow on the debris. Its dewdrops

glitter under the stardust. The child
walks by the seashore

with its old mother. The bodies still
lie under the soil. The roots

slowly envelope the white bones.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A POEM FOR THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN NO.4

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.

***
MARCH

Buddhist monks lit
the temples aflame
after the earthquake, my father tells me.

The monks scattered
straw and ran with the torchlight.

On the hill, burning
temples and scriptures; ashes
flared in the moonlight. People

hurriedly climbed up the stone
stairs with bamboo buckets
.....and.....heard the tsunami…

The early apricot blossoms

spread in the evening sky. I push
my father’s wheelchair under the trees.

Leave me if it happens, he said.

I pick up a marble
.....and throw it at the tree. Yellowish-
orange petals fall to the ground.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A POEM FOR THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN NO.3

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.

***
MAYUMI

1.
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.

2.
Home is gone
leaving only a broken gate.

The concrete
smashes her blue
bicycle. I wait

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

3.
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.

4.
Her body
roams the ocean current. Tonight’s full

moon is the brightest in a year. Her body
deserves the sea water;
the sparking white bubbles.

Like an old story of a mermaid,
her body slowly
.....disappears from the earth.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A POEM FOR THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN NO.2

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.

***
YELLOW DAFFODILS

The tsunami broke through the kitchen windows.
A truck surged into the dining table.

I never thought the waves would reach here.

My house slowly tilted.
I was flung off the balcony.

I think of my death.

A tin roof washed over my head.
Its sharp edge cut my arms.

My jeans were caught by a wire fence.
Splinters flooded my mouth.

I think of my mother.

She biked to the market.
I will cook daikon-radish. Will you eat at home tonight?

She might have stopped by the flower shop

on the sloping road.

Yellow daffodils always bloomed
on the dinning table at the end of winter.

It was the sign that spring would soon come.


I need to breathe.
.....I want to breathe.

From a random third floor window,
there were wet old men holding out a steel pole.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

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.

Friday, March 18, 2011

One Week After the Earthquake

It has been a week after the earthquake in Japan. There are still a lot of aftershocks and the most concerning news is of course about the Daiichi Fukushima Nuclear Plant.

>>The Daiichi Fukushima Nuclear Plant
Press Release from The Daiichi Fukushima Nuclear Plant.
All documents are written in Japanese, though.

Amazingly with Japanese technology, the nuclear plant was not damaged by the magnitude 8.8 earthquake. The active reactors properly shut down like they were supposed to. However, when the tsunami hit the plant, it knocked out the emergency generators that keep the cooling systems functioning. As you know, Japanese and American engineers and soldiers are trying to cool the plant down. I am really thankful that they volunteer to stop the radiation.

Because the two major nuclear plants are shut down, there is not enough electricity around Tokyo. The rolling blackouts started to ration the existing power re-routing some to the northern grids that were supplied by the cold plants now, and people are under extremely inconvenient life styles.

My sister usually wears high-heels and tight skirt, but she now wears tennis shoes and pants. Trains and buses have reduced schedules, so it is extremely crowded everywhere. My sister has to walk a long way to her office. Fortunately, she works at a major food company, so she does not worry about food; however, Japanese people crazily purchased water and food for the next possible emergency, so there is no enough food in the supermarkets now for everyday cooking. Also in the evening, it is pretty dark without lights and also aftershocks often happen.

In addition, there are so many bad rumors, chain mails, and Tweets. People in Japan, the Philippines, China, and the West Cost of the U.S.A, are crazy worried about radiation poisoning, so they believe a lot of rumors such as eating a lot of salt and taking potassium iodide (which they should not do). My family is still in Japan, so I am really worried about radiation. I want to ship enough food and snacks, and I want my family to come to America for a while. However, I just cannot panic about the situation. I have to be calm and judge my decisions wisely. Rumors are rumors after all.

Here is a useful homepage about the earthquake.

>>The Asahi Shinbun (Most Japanese read the newspaper)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Donation Information from the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago

Here is a very useful homepage about donations for the Tohoku Earthquake. I copy and paste the information from the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago, and also you may visit their homepage to learn more.

>>Click to The Consulate General of Japan at Chicago

***

The Consulate General of Japan at Chicago expresses our sincere appreciation for the outpouring of support, kind words, and offers of assistance that we have received from across the Midwest.

Those who wish to contribute to the recovery effort may use one of the following options:

1. The Japanese Red Cross

(1) Giving financial support to those living in the affected areas

This money is disbursed by the Japanese Red Cross to donation allocation committees in the municipalities in the affected area, where it is distributed to victims of the disaster.

Name of Bank: Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Name of Branch: Ginza
Account No.: 8047670 (Ordinary Account)
SWIFT Code: SMBC JP JT
Payee Name: The Japanese Red Cross Society
Payee Address: 1-1-3 Shiba-Daimon Minato-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
**If you would like a receipt, please specify on the form when transferring money**

(2) Giving financial support to the Japanese Red Cross for relief operations

Name of Bank: Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Name of Branch: Ginza
Account No.: 8047705 (Ordinary Account)
SWIFT Code: SMBC JP JT
Payee Name: The Japanese Red Cross Society
Payee Address: 1-1-3 Shiba-Daimon Minato-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
**If you would like a receipt, please specify on the form when transferring money**
2. The Consulate General of Japan at Chicago

The Consulate is also accepting donations on behalf of the Japanese Red Cross. Any donations we receive will be forwarded on to the Japanese Red Cross, to be given to disaster victims as specified in point 1. (1) above.
Donations can be accepted only in the form of a check. Please use the below address and information to mail any donation checks to the Consulate.
  • Make checks out to: Consulate General of Japan
  • Write "Disaster Relief" in the memo line
  • Mail to: Consulate General of Japan
    (Attn: Disaster Relief)
    737 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1100
    Chicago, IL 60611
**The Consulate can only accept checks, thank you for your understanding**

3. Donations can also be made to the Japanese Red Cross through the American Red Cross

Please specify "For Japanese Earthquake Relief" when tendering the donation to the American Red Cross

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

American Red Cross Donate Funds for Japanese Earthquake

From American Red Cross Donate Funds

>>Click to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami

"Your gift to the American Red Cross will support our disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific. On those rare occasions when donations exceed American Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters."

Monday, March 14, 2011

THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN


My Sister's Office in Tokyo

After March 11th, I have not talked to my family and friends yet because Japan has decided to do rolling blackouts to conserve electricity for the deprived northern areas. Especially in Tokyo, there are a lot of people that have difficulty accessing public transportation (which is the main form of moving around daily over there). I am worried about my sister and good friends who live there. I really hope nothing happens in the dark areas or crowded places in terms of crime. Of course, there are still a lot of significant aftershocks. Some people are camping inside their houses without heat, lights, and running water.

I just cannot concentrate from thinking about Japan all day long. I know that my worrying is not going to help anyone. I know my family and friends are fine. But the problems with the nuclear power plants, aftershocks, and lack of essential materials... Why can I not help them? Why can I not stand beside them and support them? I really hate that I chose to live in a foreign country.

But I am really thankful that many countries--China, Russia,
South Korea, the U.S.A--are helping like they are. I would like to cheer Japan on. I want to go back and have a wonderful time with my family and friends again.

Ganbare Japan, I prey for them everyday.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE in JAPAN

The HUFFINGTON POST has a very organized information about the Japanese Earthquake.


I am also watching JAPAN TV, which is a free offer for AT&T U-Verse (Chanel 3680) until 3/27/2011.

Anderson Cooper will broadcast in Japan on 3/13/2011 on CNN.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN

「日本の皆へ 少しでも多くの命が救われますように 共に生きよう!」

As you know, on Friday, March 11, an estimated magnitude 8.8 earthquake occurred offshore in the Sanriku region of Miyagi Prefecture. More than 1000 people passed away and 10,000 people are still missing.

Fortunately, all my family members are fine. My sister, who lives in Tokyo, had to walk back to her apartment from her office for four and a half hours on foot-- she usually wears sky-high high heels-- and is now staying with her fiancee's family. I am really thankful that his family welcomed her and provided a safe place to stay. When she felt the earthquake, she saw cracks explode across several walls in her building. Aftershocks are still happening often; however, at least, my family has access to enough food and water, so I am really thankful.

I actually feel restless and nervous since the earthquake happened. If another huge earthquake happens and I cannot contact my parents... How can my handicap father run away from a Tsunami...?

When I talked to my father on Friday, he said, "Don't look for us if another huge earthquake happens. We can meet each other afterward if we survive." He smiles with my mother and adds, "We try to live our best until a tsunami or disaster gets us." Now I can clearly see that I need to prepare for something huge. Now that the tsunami quickly stole a lot of life, I cannot escape that I may lose my family.

Because there are still limitations for electricity and internet access, I have not talked to them since that first conversation. However, with my Japanese identity, I want to support them however I can.

A Japanese soccer player in Germany, Atsuto Uchida, played his last game wearing his team's uniform with a message on it that read,
「日本の皆へ 少しでも多くの命が救われますように 共に生きよう!」, "For people in Japan, I hope that a lot of lives are saved. Let's live together," in German and Japanese. A lot of people are facing a fear of death or feel hopeless, but I would like to live with them. I want to support them.

I will update information of fundraisers by the Japanese ambassador in Chicago here on my blog. If you are interested in donating, please go to their homepage. They have not set up the fundraiser yet, but I believe that they will do soon.

>>Click to Consulate General of Japan in CHICAGO>>

I also drew a small art piece for $25 including shipping. If someone is interested in it, please contact me at writingnaoko>>at>>hotmail>>dot>>com. I will donate all of the money to the Japanese government in their disaster aid programs.

I pray for the people who live in Japan.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

For my sis' wedding (part 1)


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I am reading "Break The Glass" by Jean Valentine.

THE JAPANESE GARDEN


The Japanese garden
is tilting quietly uphill

--eleven wet green stones,
bamboo, and ferns--

It might be under water,
the birds be fish, colored in......And you,

masked reader:.....the glance
of your underwater lamp,

your blackwater embrace--
not bought or sold