Thursday, April 05, 2012

Day 5 Poetry Challenge: Ten Rules

My grandmother was a woman of deep emotions
but little words.
Perhaps it was the broken English way she spoke,
or the many hours alone in the back room
with her foot-pedal Singer sewing machine,
the dust threads
flying into the stifling Lahaina heat
like a gossamer shroud.
But always, when she spoke, it was about the value
of use, the shame of frivolity
the decadence of  wastefulness.
Study hard,
wear clean panties,
no waste
water, paper, fabric, food, money. . .
no make shame, no shame the family, no shame yourself,
be a good girl,
be smart,           
no be like the neighbor girl,
clean your ching ching good,
clean your feet before you come in the house
marry Japanese.
- Cathy Kanoelani Ikeda 4/5/12

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Day 4: Poetry a Day Challenge - Big Ears

A student asked me where the stories come from
to fill up my blank sheets of paper on the Elmo
as they furiously try and make their 5-minute daily writing
word count.
I write, you write. Five minutes of furious drafting times three classes a day.
I’ve been doing this for 20 years.
I’ve put in my 10,000 hours of writing on blank sheets of paper.
Making something out of nothing.

But really, it’s because I’ve always had big ears.
The kind that stick out when I try to make my hair
lie flat against my face,
the kind that pop out from under the edge of the hat.
Big ears to sit silent under the breakfast table
until everyone forgets I’m there
and then the stories come
they always come
if I wait long enough
and stick my big ears up into the sky
like an antenna
they always come.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Day 3 Poetry a Day Challenge: Take

Take my right slipper
when you break yours
Take my jacket button
to hold up your pants..
Take my prayers
floating skyward,
let them whisper you to sleep.
Take my eyes
to help you search for what eludes you.
Take my book
when words betray you,
Take my hands
to tether you.
Take my intestines
to center yourself
and at the end of the days
when I have nothing left to take
but my left earring,
take this poem
and know love.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Day 2 Poetry Challenge - Words (a haiku)

Words trickle lazy
Honey droppings of verbs fall
Effortless as mud 
-- Cathy Kanoelani Ikeda 4/2/12

Sunday, April 01, 2012

April 1: Poetry a Day Challenge: Living in an Airport

Arrivals and departures
the same black screens
cities scrolling by in steady waves
Houston, San Francisco
Johannesburg, Atlanta
San Juan, Honolulu. . .
Which leg am I on?
How many tickets are stapled together?
Which airport am I at?
I check in on my Foursquare
The local time is 6:26 am,
this morning I’m in Newark
leg three of four

Each airport looks like another
Starbucks, Hudson News, Best Buy, Wolfgang Puck’s
I file through TSA
laptop in a bin
shoes on the belt
jacket stuffed in my bag
passport out -
but I’m always in the slowest line
behind babies and foreigners
hiding six-packs of water in their
carry on bags
the story of my life,
learning patience from the airport queue
some things cannot be controlled

arrivals and departures
solitary journeys
anonymity of the gate
aisle seats near the bathroom
a preference for silent seat mates
and redeye flights

my life made up of arrivals and departures
the safety of being strapped in a seat
stuck in a metal bird with nowhere to go
and finally a chance to quiet my brain
catch up with my sleep
and dream only of

arrivals and departures.

--Cathy Kanoelani Ikeda