Sunday, July 31, 2011

A POEM FOR THE JAPANESE EARTHQUAKE

MAYUMI
After the tohoku earthquake & tsunami

1.
Don’t leave my hand.
My daughter’s palms were soft.

The black houses crushed
a local library and.....us.

2.
Our home is only a broken gate.
I recite Mayumi in front of it.

3.
Her body roams the ocean.
It deserves the sparkling white

bubbles,.....and slowly disappears.

4.
Tonight’s full moon is the brightest in a year.

Happy birthday…
She would be sixteen.


***
The first draft on 3/22/2011.
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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Poem after the Japanese Nuclear Disaster

FUKISHIMA SPRING

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...

FUKISHIMA SPRING

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-purple
morning dew drops on young leaves…

I sing an old Japanese spring song.

Sleet turns to rain on my cheek.

***
The very first draft was on 4/18/2011.

FUKISHIMA SPRING

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. Tulips

bloom in the garden. Cherry
blossoms are inkblot-pink
on a natane-rainy

day. I want to walk in the rain
without my yellow umbrella;

white little petals, a sweet

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

I sing an old Japanese
spring song to my unborn child.
I am sorry—I cannot promise you spring.

I close my eyes.

A child wears a hat. Sprouts
grow like a piano

phrase note. I hold
my hands. I keep singing

the song. I feel

sleet on my cheeks.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A POEM FOR THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE

TOKYO WATER

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 WATER

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 said, the soil absorbs
water; spinach glows with dew
drops in the morning.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

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—finally I learned how to use the player—I sing “Think of Me” in both English and Japanese, and I gaze at the details of the phantom’s expression with a pillow gripped in my arms.

“Think of Me” is such a beautiful phrase. I would like to say it one time in my lifetime. But I do not know that I have the courage to say it to my phantom. As an excuse to be a poet, I can dream of him in my mind, can’t I? I think of him, but I won’t demand of him, “Think of me”. Maybe whisper it before I go to bed.

When I was young, I was happy that Christina ended up with Raul, but my thoughts have changed over the years. I understand that she kisses the phantom because he is her respected music master and she deeply sympathies with his feelings of loneliness. But she kisses twice! It is not just one casual farewell kiss, they kiss to feel their lips in front of Raul. She definitely thinks of the phantom until she dies after her marriage with Raul.

This obsession will keep me going until the dog houses will be delivered to the apartment in Japan and the two dogs—maybe human—start living in them. I pick up the phone call from the delivery service. It was a delivery confirmation and I asked his name—Raul.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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

Saturday, July 16, 2011

BUSINESS BOULEVARD

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.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

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 men that did not include that. I wanted to have attention. I wanted to be loved!

Then I understood that I needed to be a single for a bit. Actually, the best years I had were when I was single--I had my attic to write poems, friends to drink with, male friends who love chick flicks... After I enjoyed being single, I was finally ready to marry my death-metal hubby (who did not like chick flicks) who was actually just a friend at first. If I did not have the silly single life, I might not have been ready for marriage. Well, after my happily-ever-after, there is another aspect to be challenged.

Despite my wanting to live out my life elsewhere, I may end up living in Japan. However, I will always have a writer's spirit within me. The spirit is like a seed, which was planted when I was born. I just patiently have to wait until it blooms something like a yellow flower... or a venus fly trap.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

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 depressive parents are competing with my creative energy.

I know that I should not act like a selfish isolationist, but at the same time, I cannot ignore them. I want to be a proud daughter, kind wife, and responsible person.

Amazingly, I start thinking of going back to Japan to support my parents. When I think about that, my heart beat doubles. With my parents in Japan, I am afraid of losing my writing ability because I will have no time for art and no energy for things outside working, paying rent, taking care of my parents, and teaching my death-metal hubby to be a "デース メタル ハビー". At the same time, I understand that if I am a real writer, I can write under any circumstances, no matter where I am.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

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.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

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 more suitable for me than writing fiction or nonfiction, or even playing the piano. I could imagine every word and line on one page. I could not be a pianist, but I thought that I can be a poet.

If I give up writing now, I will not have anything to be proud of. Some way, I need to keep writing. Seriously, I am desperate to be a poet.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

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

Saturday, July 2, 2011

THE FIRST NIGHT
After the tsunami on 3/11/2011

1.
A yellow little shoe drifted away. I
clasped my hands around the tree
trunk & smelled of the endless

.....water desert.

2.
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.

3.
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.

4.
Dear Mother,
Did you escape the land of sudden

.....death?


***
The first draft on March 20, 2011.
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.