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Showing posts from 2012

Duck for Christmas Dinner!!

I can cook! 

Art by Request (Frog-Kaeru)

New Poem - 3:30AM MINUET

October 15th, 2012

“The commander’s name was Gochoo Anayama!”

There was a sudden spark
in my father’s brain.

When Anayama slapped
Grandfather’s left ear in the war,

he lost his hearing.

“Grandfather asked me to slap him back,”
my father said on the bed. Before I slept,

my father used to tell a story about an angel.

The angel wanted death for the first time,
so he lied together with dying soldiers.

An old nurse held his hand

and took his pulse.

Her fingers were warm
like spring dirt. The angel woke

in a field of dandelions...

“Welcome back” was that I wanted to hear.

My father hummed
a stardust minuet. His right arm

conducted the music. The left half of his body is still
and quiet under a wool blanket. He said,

“It was a delicious flatfish with white cream sauce.” 

I pushed the wheelchair
to Grandfather’s favorite restaurant

fourteen hours ago.

“I missed you so much,” my father fell asleep again.

Art by Request (Tanpopo)

Project Thanksgiving - Art

It was my first time to use soft pastels. The drawing is almost done!

Le Creuset Round French Oven

My new pot from Le Creuset. The counter cloth is designed by Grandmother.
I cleaned up entireapartment to welcome the red pot and cooked French onion soup. The kettle is from my mother's wedding gift.

Tokyo Skytree

Family Trip to Tokyo Skytree


Lunch at Chez Inno



There are no umbrellas in the war.

My grandfather held a gun
in the middle of nowhere,


His boots were
soaking wet by a mud

wall. When he wiped his face,
his commander smacked

his left ear. And then

the wall was riddled with bullets… 

His fellow Japanese dragged
their paralyzed legs. Their hands

smelled of piss and blood.

How difficult it was to set

fire on that day...........The dead bodies

smoldered from toes to fingers.

The commander rolled them over
with a long pole and asked
my grandfather to bring

more dried wood.

Their eyes glared into a meaningless


The commander’s name is Goro Inukai.

Punch him in the nose.

THE BEACH -- Accepted

"The Beach" was accepted by Emerge Literary Journal.

after the tsunami on 3/11/2011 

Grandmother packs dried 
persimmons in a plastic 
bag and walks to the beach. She writes 
Father’s name on a wooden 
stick when his body is buried 
in the sand. I trace 
the wrinkle around his mouth. My nails 
catch a million pieces of crushed 
shells. There are countless 
bodies along the shores. I see 
a picture of Father 
holding me, laughing, on his sixtieth 
birthday. Last February, 
he was here. We ate 
the persimmons together. 

Grandmother says she does not 
dream about him, so 
I don’t. Seagulls cry so 
hard by my ears. I  
remember the way he called 
my name. Before I rebuild 
his house, I will take him to a real 
graveyard. I will buy a lot of 
tombstones. His name 
will be engraved on them. 

Do you remember the neighbor’s yapping dog? 
It is dead too, so 
I will give it a small stone. I know 
Father will finally 
become holy, but I do not have 
a pillow. It would be too 
cold to sleep on the tombstone…


Nagoya, 1945

There was a Mitsubishi factory 
around the corner of Shrine Ave. 

It was surrounded by a tall 
concrete wall. My grandmother used to work 

in the enclosure 

sewing buttons on Japanese Naval uniforms.

When she did not have enough 
needle and thread, she glued them on the cloth.

She had already stayed 

there thirty three days.

There were new girls 

walking along the wall to work. 
Their cheeks were brown with suntanned skin. 

My grandmother explained 

how she found their bodies.

Their sleeves were caught by the barbed wire. 
The blocks collapsed on the heads and torsos.

There was no blood 

but their arms were black like coal.

My grandmother straddled 
downed power lines.

She crossed the burnt 
pumpkin field to a barber shop.

Behind it, 

her younger sister stood. 
Her hair was covered with glass and lice.



An old lady comes from the dark  narrow living room and says, 
Welcome, Ms. Fujimoto.
I pay ten dollars and receive  chrysanthemums in an empty 
bucket. Over the hill,  I carry them to {your mother’s tombstone}1.
Tall granite reflects  the summer sun holding 
cinerary urns. There are no  trees, but cicadas are always 
loud. They are too loud. I almost  forget why {I am here}2. 
When I return the bucket,  the lady says, 
It will be {enough water}3 after sixty seven years.
And she gives me  {a bottle of soda}4.

***NOTE  1{Your mother’s tombstone} is in Yagoto, Nagoya. She passed away in 1945 after bombs detached her left leg. Her last words were “Could I have water?” 3{Enough water} is never enough, same as never enough God to make peace. 2{I am here} to pray for peace after World War II, but I worry about too many other things; such as how to pay rent ($1200/ a month) and electric bills for the hottest summer. 4{A bottle of soda} is refreshing like a clear August cloud—innocent. Is…

Poetry Reading at Myopic

The shirt is Made by Mommy.

JUNE 29, 2012 - Poem

JUNE 29, 2012
for m.a.

Your first twenty four
days are like an aqueous

dream. You sleep
and forget the smell of home.

Mother’s sweat
soaks the towels. Ice cubes

clank in a glass of water. Your
fingers are cold. They are too

cold for this summer drought. Ants
dismantle a dried cicada. Only

orange eyes roll
on the balcony. Your sweet

gray teethmarks
ghostly haunt Mother’s

breasts. They are soft
and plump with milk.

Bottles line a childless home.

Weekend in South Bend, Wedding & Hello Kitty

New Pages' Literary Magazine Reviews - Spillway

Spillway was reviewed in New Pages. Com on July 17, 2012. Thank you very much for reviewing my poem, Sarah! 
Issue 17
Fall 2011
Review by Sarah Carson

Spillway, an independent, semiannual journal based in Orange Country, California has been around since 1993. But, Editor Susan Terris remarks in her editor’s note that it’s only been in recent years that Spillway became a themed journal.

This issue’s theme, “Crossing Borders “(or “Border Crossings” if you flip the cover upside down), is an eclectic take on borders of all kinds—seasons, wars, and changing family and relationship dynamics.

Some of the borders crossed in Spillway’s pages are more obvious than others, but the variety of perspectives on the theme makes for a diverse issue full of distinct voices, stories, and styles.

There are, of course, the expected poems of exile and loss, of a sojourner leaving one place for another. But there are also surprises, as well as borders that are not so easily defined.

Take for exam…

With My New Flip-Flops by Lake Michigan

Gary Air Show was wonderful!

New Pages' Screen Reading for Anti-

Anti-was reviewed inNew Pages. Com on June 25, 2012. Thank you very mush for mentioning my name! 


Anti-Issue 10 June 2012
Anti- is, as the editors explain, “contrarian, a devil’s advocate that primarily stands against the confinement of poetry in too-small boxes. Anti- wants to provide a single arena for a wide range of styles and ideas, so these different kinds of poets and poems can either fight it out or learn to coexist.” What I found most interesting with this issue of Anti- is the vast breadth of styles that it packs; each poet seemed to bring something different. With some of the poems, I was just captured by the titles alone: "Dictator, By Which I Mean the Mother Brandishing a Pistol with a Piñata over Her Head" and "When they squeeze us the wind splinters where we used to be, which is also where we are now." In Gregory Sherl’s “We Can’t Schedule a Seduction,” the narrator makes collect calls to God, offering up a list of excuses for his actions. “Discarded …

Ryan Sanford Smith's Book Review

My good friend, Ryan, reviewed Charmi's first book!You can purchase her book from Big Wonderful Press.   ***Charmi Keranen’s ‘The Afterlife is a Dry County’ “I believe–// In extinction”, Keranen declares in the poem ‘The Great American Interchange’, a poem that like so many in this stunning chapbook manages to articulate scenes of complex juxtaposition that would be hilarious and evocative even if incorrectly taken to be mere happenstance. Simulacra, simple blotting-outs, and sincere questions about what is genuine and sacred run through many moments of Keranen’s work but the nihilism of the succinct line above is never really on the menu. Keranen effuses wry bits of it, however, like a choice spice drawn from a kind of wise, even warm cynicism. 
Keranen’s speaker seems always ready to take the world sincerely but, again, what does it mean to be sincere? In the poem ‘Late Cretaceous’, we see the search: “100,000 years out from the homeland// We’re still dreaming// Of a m…
Anti-Issue #10 is out.
*** My Father’s Ivory Die

#3: additional seizures after his brain surgery, #5: broken front teeth from diabetes… My father throws his ivory die on the floor. I say, “You may die within three years, you know?” He flaps yesterday’s newspaper because his tears blur out an article about a comet—Even after a star dies, it may linger as a white dwarf—I hear the clatter of dishes and silverware. I push his wheelchair. The die rolls into a corner of the dining room. Silken layers of stardust cover it. He scoops egg-drop soup into his mouth.

By the Stony Riverbed - Poem

By the Stony Riverbed

They always wear old
shoes and march to a rock
sticking out. On a tree root,

a red shoe hangs. Its shoestring
waves faster in the river,
and they jumped off. Their bubbles

come from the dark
green water and I only hear summer
cicada songs. Carefully,

the world listens to them
sinking. I like
to think of their pale

faces. When I see the glistening
short hair as they swim to the riverbed,
I want to push back their naked

shoulders and throw their shoes

into the river again and again.

"..." - Poem

After Roy Lichtenstein

The most difficult beautiful thing I think to paint would be dots marching in a cartoon panel. The tiny inestimable dots carve my eyes and silently leave me between “Ohhhh” and “don’t know.” When I turn the page, you called me, “Hello…” You speak a dot, a dot of a single drop of soy sauce on a silk blouse while I eat a California roll alone, and your salmon is dried out on the summer green plate. My finger smutches a slice of pink ginger, ga-ri in Japanese. That I remember.

My Friend's Wedding Art Take 2

Art for My Friend's Wedding

Poetry of the Tohoku Earthquake with Corey Reutlinger

Corey had a speech at Hastings College and talked about my tsunami poetry project. Thank you very much for using my poems! 


After Cubism

The bottle / rolls in the vending machine. Mother / braces her hand against the cabinet / and picks the leaves. Glistening juice / sizzles in the pan. Mother flaps / the pink towel. Father / cooks sunny side up. I / do not eat his breakfast / but eat four Japanese tangerines. I want / his change to buy a bottle of soda. I step / on a chair and hear water running from an icy / metal spigot. The yolk / melts on the edge of the fork. Mother / washes her face. I hold / three coins in my hand. The water / comes from the stem and I see / its vascular bundle. My hands smell / like orange and coins. The broken / kapok-tree is on the carpet. Father / keeps flipping the bacon and eggs. There are piled / books and a wallet on the tall cabinet. Sister eats / only bacon and scribbles on a plate with egg yolk. / The stem is bent / and broken in half. When I reach / the coins, the books fall into the kapok. The white / vascular bundles are between my n…



My grandmother packs dried
persimmons in a plastic
bag and walks to a beach. She writes
my father’s name on a wooden
stick when his body is buried
in the sand. I trace
the winkle around his mouth. My nails
catch a million pieces of crushed
shells. This is
after the tsunami happened, so
there are countless
bodies along the shores. I see
a picture of my father
holding me and laughing on his sixtieth
birthday. Last February,
he was here. I ate
the persimmons with him.
My grandmother says she does not
dream about him, so
I don’t. I kind of
remember the way he called
my name. Seagulls cry so
hard by my ears. Before I rebuild
his house, I will take him to a real
graveyard. I will buy a lot of
tombstones. His name
will be engraved on them.
Do you remember the neighbor’s yapping dog?
It is dead too, so
I will give it a small stone. I know
my father will finally
become holy but I do not have
a pillow. It would be too
cold to sleep on the tombstone. My grandmother
says I cannot sleep u…

Guess What I Got...

DVD of "The Adventures of TIN TIN"
Captain Haddock said, "Excellent!"



I eat pig ears in Cebu. Its skin oil
drops in the ember fire

and there is a girl who brings me a plastic
plate. She has a leprous father

and they live in the village
by the swamp. Every morning

before I teach her at school,
she ladles the water and washes clothes.

In her mind she knows
she cannot leave from here

even though she has a one-way
train ticket. This particular

girl is only six years old.
She uses a wooden washboard

and there are never
bubbles in the basin.

After the laundry,
she likes to collect plastic pieces

and make an imaginary
rainbow. I collect them with her

without soaking my fingertips.
The swamp reflects

algae and rubble
by nightfall and daybreak.



I eat soda ice-candy with my sister and see a dog
following the neighbor woman. The dog has a long
tail and we always want to feel it. My grandfather hates
the dog because it is a yapping disaster.

When the dog chases us to my grandfather’s house,
my grandfather grabs a fishing net
and follows it into the corner of a bathtub
because he wants to drown it.

And we are just after him to see
how he catches it and turns on the spigot.
The water is like an antediluvian wave,
it overflows the basin first, then splashes into the tub.

And my sister said, “Stop,” and I said, “Carry on!”
I picture the body returning to the neighbor. A crumb
of soaking fur is in front of a family Buddist
altar. The drops wet a tatami-mattress and socks.



Yes, I eat three
gallons of clam chowder with French
pink sponges. Though
I have a baguette in a basket, it will never
fill me. My dance teacher asks,

How do you express love in front of the waterfall?

I spread my arms and thighs to make
a circle. My eyes are sunk
into floppy cheeks. My legs
trip and I fall into the water. A catfish

blows bubbles by my ears. The trouble
is my purple leotard. It is tight
around my neck to remind me I am not loved.

When my body drifts to the beach, seagulls scatter.

You are under a warm sheet with an anonymous woman, hearing nothing.

Current Favorite Poet --Naomi Shihab Nye

The Words Under the Words
By Naomi Shihab Nye

for Sitti Khadra, north of Jerusalem
My grandmother’s hands recognize grapes,
the damp shine of a goat’s new skin.
When I was sick they followed me,
I woke from the long fever to find them
covering my head like cool prayers.

My grandmother’s days are made of bread,
a round pat-pat and the slow baking.
She waits by the oven watching a strange car
circle the streets. Maybe it holds her son,
lost to America. More often, tourists,
who kneel and weep at mysterious shrines.
She knows how often mail arrives,
how rarely there is a letter.
When one comes, she announces it, a miracle,
listening to it read again and again
in the dim evening light.

My grandmother’s voice says nothing can surprise her.
Take her the shotgun wound and the crippled baby.
She knows the spaces we travel through,
the messages we cannot send—our voices are short
and would get lost on the journey.
Farewell to the husband’s coat,
the ones she has loved and nourished,

The Porcupine Leaving the Party

Why is the porcupine leaving the party? Maybe the corny birthday card lyric scared it off...
B-card from my death-metal hubby with orchid.

Happy 29th Birthday!

My father was the first person to wish me happy birthday.
(It is already 21st in Japan.)
Thank you for being my papa.

My New Coin Case!

A birthday present from my death-metal hubby.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Our Tradition: Chocolate Covered Strawberry!

Charmi Keranen’s Poetry Art Exhibition

My friend, Charmi, is a talented poet from the Midwest and she just published her first book, “The Afterlife is a Dry County” by Big Wonderful Press.

Currently I am organizing her poetry exhibition with domestic and international artists. We are booking an art gallery in South Bend, IN. The schedule is pending. However, we would like to have the exhibition by late this summer. It is going to be something contemporary, beautiful, and crazy!

So far, I have five excellent artists on board:

Ashley Biggs: Cover photographer at IU South Bend Literary Journal.
Alex Zaideman: Calendar photographer at the Indiana Dunes.
Brad Schmidt: Charcoal artist from Colombia College.
Chelle Costello: Artist, musician, and professor at IU South Bend.
Mitoka Yamada: Painter and performer in Tokyo, Japan.

If you introduce me to your artist friends who may be interested in joining this exhibition, please contact me. I am always happy to meet new artists.

Anti-Poetry -- Accepted!

"My Father's Ivory Die" was accepted by Anti-Poetry.

MY FATHER’S IVORY DIE #3: additional seizures after his brain surgery, #5: broken front teeth from diabetes… My father throws his ivory die on the floor. I say, “You may die within three years, you know?” He flaps yesterday’s newspaper because his tears blur out an article about a comet—Even after a star dies, it may linger as a white dwarf— I hear the clatter of dishes and silverware. I push his wheelchair. The die rolls into a corner of the dining room. Silken layers of stardust cover it. He scoops egg-drop soup into his mouth.

The Collegehood of the Traveling Wedding Card

"Because we were so lucky to meet you at Nantan, we could create our lifetime...friendship!" Congratulations, Natsuko!

The greeting card was traveled through Chicago>> Osaka>> Nagoya>> and Higashi-ku, and then my college friends added comments in each city. Thank you very much for making it possible, Momo, Mizuho, & Amannochi! I miss you very much.

Portland Community College- 2/16

AtPortland Community College, Dr. Michael McDowell will teach my poem, "7:30PM, Rhapsody" on February 16, 2012. How amazing is that? In his course, he also teaches a poem by the respected (one of my favorite poets) Li-Young Lee!

Today, my death-metal hubby and I went to the China town in Chicago to celebrate Chinese New Year. We thought about Li-Young Lee because he lived in Chicago. The dragons and high school marching bands in the parade were so exciting. And we inhaled a cloud of burning crackers.

The restaurant, Dragon Court, was excellent. We ordered six different types of dim-sum and seafood noodles. We ordered extra to take home for lunch the next day, but ate everything before we left (and THEN got Garrett's popcorn on the way back).

Hotel Amerika is Out!

Hotel Amerika is out. Enjoy reading "As of Late" with other wonderful poets!


.....Some of the work confronting us
.....will not be completed during my presidency...

I told you during the speech,
I am five days late.

.....Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons,
.....may not be completed in my lifetime…

I can no longer remember that I wanted to bear a child.

My grandfather met a pregnant woman, summer 1945.

She held an empty bottle and a little red kimono
.....and she sat down by the gray wall.

He gave her water

.....and kept walking to the hill near Hiroshima
.....and then bullets rained

.....and the atomic bomb...

He found the woman again
with a shred of the red cloth.

Her bowels
.....and placenta were spread

under the wall; in the ditch.

He did not find her unborn child but he smelled it.

After rain and rain, the moon
threw down a little blue light.

.....How beautiful the spring of 1946 was;

dandelions and clovers covered the wall
.....and nobody c…

Amanda's Wedding in South Bend

with Amanda, January 15, 2012

Radio Tower-- Poem

after 3/11/2011 in Japan

“Run up to the hill,”
I repeated it from the radio tower.

Tsunami slithers through the seaweed garden.
A child was held in its mother’s arms on the bridge.

They were the hill.

The microphone slipped from my hand.

Like a hundred other ambiguous bodies,
clay envelops my face.

..........Clovers grow. Their dewdrops

glitter under the stardust. Can I be promised
to return to the earth like everyone else,

like a beautiful mermaid, like

my grandmother?

JANUARY 1, 2012-- Prose Poem

JANUARY 1, 2012

I explain to my father the random chance of his death. Just like an ivory die that he throws on the floor; #3 is for additional seizures after his brain surgery, #5 is for broken front teeth from diabetes… I said, “You may die within three years, you know?” He keeps flapping yesterday’s newspaper because his tears blur out an article about a comet—Even after a star dies, it may linger as a white dwarf— I hear the clatter of dishes and silverware. I push his wheelchair into the dining room. The die rolls into a corner of the room. Silken layers of stardust cover it. He scoops egg-drop soup into his mouth.