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Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column

Half-empty/half-full

As we welcome 2024, we welcome another new writer to the Nikkei Uncovered space. We have three pieces of prose and poetry from Aaron Caycedo-Kimura, a Bloomfield CT based writer. The pieces here remind us of the transition through the in-between, what is at once behind and in front of us…the things of the past we might begin to let go of as we grasp onto them in the present moment. As we enter into a new year, we by no means leave behind the strife or goodness of the past year - may we all be inspired to write (and read) into the fullness… 

—traci kato-kiriyama 

* * * * *

Aaron Caycedo-Kimura is the author of Common Grace (Beacon Press, 2022) and Ubasute (Slapering Hol Press, 2021). His honors include a MacDowell Fellowship, a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry, a St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award in Literature, and nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets anthologies. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Plume Poetry, Poetry Daily, Shenandoah, Pirene’s Fountain, Salamander, Cave Wall, and elsewhere. Aaron earned his MFA in creative writing from Boston University. 

 

In the Wake

After three months in my childhood room, separate twin beds,
Luisa and I move into my parents’ room. Into their bed.

The one Mom died in last week. The one they slept in
forty-seven years—content, angry, sometimes indifferent.

Four years ago I took it apart, made way for the hospital bed
I ordered for Dad. I should’ve let him die in his own.

Luisa and I stare at the ceiling. Around us, their mahogany dressers,
Singer sewing machine, baby picture of Mari above the TV.

Just as my parents must have done countless times, we wonder
about our next steps: stay in their house, make it our home

or move back to Connecticut, find our own way. I feel the fullness
of the room with lights out. Window slid open, faint summer breeze,

Seth Thomas clock with hands that glow mint green in the dark.
They left their bodies right where ours fill the space.

*This poem is copyrighted by Aaron T. Caycedo-Kimura (2023) and originally published in Poetry South, 2023.  

What my wife didn’t tell you in her poem

was how we got rid of the wine bottles
once they were empty. The ones we hid
from Mom between the wall and my bed.
One of the twin beds in my childhood room
where we slept for three months before moving
into the master bedroom. We drank a bottle
a night. Snuck the empties out to the garage,
stuffed them into white plastic shopping bags,
stowed them behind the seat of Mom’s gray Corolla.
The car we later drove across country.
We would tell her we were going for gas—
and we did—but it was more about getting rid
of evidence. I’d insert the nozzle into the tank,
then look around before lowering the bags
into the trash so the bottles wouldn’t clink.
Leaning against the car, watching the display,
I’d take a slow drag of gasoline fumes, remember
when Dad used to take me with him to the Phillips 66
on Sebastopol or the Chevron on West Third.
Your father drank himself to death, Mom said.
She was confused. It was lung cancer. In Japan
after the war, it was her father’s drinking that led
to heart failure. Once she had to retrieve him
from a geisha house because he was too drunk
to walk home by himself. It was fun
being rebellious teens again, or so we told ourselves.
Watching Mom’s decline, we also finished off the booze
in the hall closet. Half-empty bottles of Kahlúa,
Old Grand-Dad, Beefeater—the ones Mom and Dad
quit drinking from when I was a boy, but kept.
When you lose the second parent, you lose
the first one all over again. We didn’t throw
those away. Just let our grief hide in plain sight
on a shelf with an old camera, pair of binoculars,
a Japanese scroll I took with me but never hung.

*This poem is copyrighted by Aaron T. Caycedo-Kimura (2023) and originally published in Pirene’s Fountain, Issue 24, 2023.


Edamame

lumpy smile        color
of spring        bite

the bump        just enough
to push        the bean

onto your tongue        hidden
in your mouth        like saying

one thing        thinking another
salted pod        after salted       

pod        when the bowl
was empty        I let her

keep        the cardigan
she borrowed        from me      

pale        napkin
piled with        husks

*This poem is copyrighted by Aaron T. Caycedo-Kimura (2022) and Original version published in Plume, October 2022.

 

© 2022 & 2023 Aaron T. Caycedo-Kimura

Aaron T. Caycedo-Kimura poems poetry

About this series

Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column is a space for the Nikkei community to share stories through diverse writings on culture, history, and personal experience. The column will feature a wide variety of poetic form and subject matter with themes that include history, roots, identity; history—past into the present; food as ritual, celebration, and legacy; ritual and assumptions of tradition; place, location, and community; and love.

We’ve invited author, performer, and poet traci kato-kiriyama to curate this monthly poetry column, where we will publish one to two poets on the third Thursday of each month—from senior or young writers new to poetry, to published authors from around the country. We hope to uncover a web of voices linked through myriad differences and connected experience.

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