Frances Kakugawa (2012 Poem In Your Pocket)

Where I’m From

by Diane

I am from rotary phones,
Best Foods and Aloha Shoyu.

I am from the hardwood floor.

I am from the gardenia bushes,
the pink and yellow plumeria.

I am from kanekapila
and loud laughter.

From Montgamory,
and Haʻo
and Leisner.

I am from warm hugs
and loving kisses.
From “you too friendly”
and “blood comes first.”

I am from catechism.
I’m from Hawaiian/German/Chinese
and beef stew and raw fish.

From Grandma’s music, the ukulele,
and the sound of her voice.
I am from a wooden house,
bunk beds, and crowded tables.

This poem was published in the Hawaiʻi Review Editor's Blog as part of an e-chapbook entitled WHEA YOU FROM…WHEA YOU GOING, which was produced by the residents of TJ Mahoney & Associates, a community reentry program in Honolulu.

Diane is from a family of eight. "Where I'm From" is the first poem she has ever written. She wrote it when she took a creative writing class at Ka Hale Hōala Hou No Nā Wahine, a residential transitional facility for women making the successful transition from prison back to our communities. She also learned how to be comfortable speaking in front of people through the class. Her dream is to be happy.


Dusk at Kauaʻi Surf

by Frances Kakugawa

A sadness falls over me

As man’s torches

Replace the sun

Beyond the red mountains.

A giant Japanese fan

Ripples out in circlets

Around a mallard

As she dips her head

Into her wings

To nibble a bug

On the quiet pond.

Quietly the fan disintegrates

To the motor boat ripples

Trailing each mallard

Across the lake to shore.


Overnight Guest

by Frances Kakugawa

i am an overnight guest
 in their brand new home,
  both girls, instead of pulling straws
   sleep with me
    on a king-sized bed
     with me sandwiched in the middle.

giggles, giggles, betwixt the sheets,
 ”go to sleep!” “stop poking me!”
  bring more giggles
   but even giggles soon get sleepy.

brandi is sound asleep on my right,
 nicole on my left slide to the edge,
  proclaiming, “I love to sleep near the edge.”

i curve one arm around nicole,
 holding her in before
  she falls like icarus
   into total darknness.

i lay awake, thinking of life,
 how some of us live near the edge
  taking risks, pursuing dreams, living
   outside of little white boxes,
    often teetering on one foot.

only in childhood do we know,
 someone’s arm is always there,
  holding us in from over the edge.

and this is how it ought to be
 when we are young and trusting
  in our parents’ home.

A local author and poet, Frances H. Kakugawa’s works include Kapoho, Mosaic Moon, and Wordsworth Dances the Waltz. She received a Ka Palapala Poʻokela Award for her keiki book Wordsworth the Poet.

Currently Reading