Nights of Love~~Responsive Tanka*

*Akiko Yosano, 12.7.48 – 5.29.1942


wrote 50 tanka a day

I wonder

if she smoked

drank red wine (Genie Nakano)

I found the wine

spilled in her tanka

a thousand lines

tangle her dark hair

after a night of love (Katheabela Wilson)

no comb nor brush

can pass through my hair

gentle fingers

find their way in darkness

waves of undulating delight (Genie nakano)

my taste for love

unpins the upsweep


my dragonfly kanzashi

under the waterfall ( Kathebela Wilson)

the tear drops

from my burning eyes and lips

we are here

for each other

let the water fall (Genie Nakano)

we drink

to this life of ours

clink of ice

in the hot springs

we have survived (Kathebela Wilson)

                    December 30. 2020,
Previously published Ribbons, Spring/Summer 2021: Volume 17, Number 2

This tanka response written by:
Genie Nakano and Kathebela Wilson

Responsive Tanka or Tanka Response:
Is a form of tanka developed in the Golden Age of tanka 11th - 14th century. Usually two poets respond to each other--lovers, friends, and sometimes more than two.  After a night of courtly love -- lovers were committed to write a tanka to each other. It was a proper etiquette to do so and was mandatory. Over the years tanka has drastically changed and evolved. The history is a fascinating story in and of itself.
I have written and performed a tanka sequence -- Floating World--a Poetic History of Tanka--in my blog. It explains in detail the history of tanka. 9th century -- to present.

*Akiko Yosano is one of the most noted, and most controversial poet – classical woman poets of Japan. Ironically when looking for a photo of her, my question of her smoking habit was answered.

*Kath Abela Wilson is leader of Poets on Site, and Tanla Poets on Site. She hosts five Poets meetings a week. Two live and three virtual reading workshops a week during these challenging times.  She publishes tanka,  tanla prose and sequence in international journals, and performs her poems accompanied by her husband a Caltech mathematician on flutes of the world from his collection, including the Japanese shakuhachi.  They have performed  together in Japan, China, Portugal, and USA.

Melting in my kitchen…Free verse…

Photo by Bruno Thethe on

Melting in my kitchen…

I watch

I listen

to the rain

as it falls from sky to earth

creating songs

only gods can sing

I am one with them today

tapping my feet

dancing to the beat

can we hear some thunder

oh, thank you, Zora

rolling across clouds

as lightening

cracks the sky

these parched lands

soak them into bliss

balance the earth with your kiss

stream the streets clean so they gleam

make a paradise lost

come alive again

alas, this is a story

based on my imagination

for its summer

and hot as hell

the ice cubes

are melting in my kitchen

summer calls

for laziness

and easy living

watching the breeze

as it plays in the trees

I’m skipping ahead

to my favorite season

when I met you in the wind?

let’s remember that time,

move into a conditioned room

say it soft and sweet

take it nice and easy

don’t over work

in this summer heat

a bottle of water will do

drink it down

soothe your mind

run through sprinklers

Summer’s here

Genie Nakano August 8, 2019, published in WordPress: July 25, 2021

Fragrant Memories~~ short story~~

Chicago, 1940’s

Fragrant Memories

   Whenever I think of exquisite gourmet cooking I always think of my mother, Misako Shintani. Mom, learned cooking from her mother and went on to teach the culinary arts. Misako was charismatic, filled with fiery energy and unpredictable.  Her classes were sensational, spontaneous theatrical performances.

Her unpredictable nature attracted her to a Jewish Russian American man 13 years her junior. He claimed he was a poet.  She ran off with this man, leaving dad and me to fend for ourselves.  I was twelve years old. After she left, her life as a star chef began.

 With her flair for dramatics and knowledge of cuisine, Mom made a name for herself and was constantly in demand. I remember her touring a group of wanna be galloping gourmet cooks through China and Japan, listening to her on radio, and her stories of cooking for actor Pat Morita and other celebrities. 

 Perfectly at ease in front of the camera, she was made for the stage. She regretted being born in the wrong time when Japanese American women had few opportunities for stage, cinema and TV.

     Mom never went shopping at just one market for her ingredients. She would go to a Hollywood Ranch Market for fruit, an Italian market for olive oil, wine, saffron, a Japanese market for the fish, rice, ginger and Asian veggies. Shopping for ingredients was a day long ethnic tour of the city.

She loved watching cooking shows and reading recipe books, but when it came to actual cooking, recipes were mere guidelines. The real deal was done by taste, smell, sight, and touch.

 Her dream was to write a cookbook honoring her mother and their Japanese heritage.

I still have her unfinished cookbook filed away.  I get sad when I read through it.  And regret there wasn’t enough time spent together, but that was not our fate.    

Almost every time I open up my spice and herb pantry, I think of Mom.  Her paella with saffron and “sausages” she smuggled in from Spain, the fragrant ways she seasoned her spring lamb, and the flaky melt in your mouth crust of her lemon pies were out of this world.

 Whether we like it or not we always have our parents with us; and I’ve acquired her habit of going to a host of markets… Saigon Market for lemongrass, turmeric, and basmati rice, Halal Markets for dates on the vine, pita bread, and fresh Feta cheese, Indian Sweets and Spices markets for spices ad infinitum.  And finally Marukai market for everything Japanese. 

Forty years after she divorced dad, she called me.  It was winter and pouring rain. Dad had just died three months ago and she was sobbing uncontrollably. She wanted to leave the Jewish man and come live with me.  

    “Did Dad ever talk about me, did he miss me… did he love me”.   She said she always regretted leaving dad but couldn’t come back. I didn’t know how to answer, you see…Dad had very few kind words to say about Mom.   Whenever he was really mad at me he’d yell… “You’re just like your mother”. So I, I stuttered and stammered and then trying my best I said to mom…”He always loved your cooking”.  

     The following week Mom’s simple annual physical checkup turned into emergency open heart surgery. Minutes before the operation, we were holding hands talking of her recovery, “I’m going to take good care of you Mom, just like I did Dad”.  She gave a knowing nod.  She knew what I meant.  But she never woke up.  She died on the operating table.  No one, not even mom knew her heart was weak.

  Shortly after mom’s death, I found dad’s journals of long ago. In it were pages and pages of dad professing deep love and need for mom. He wanted to tell her but just couldn’t. Now I couldn’t stop crying.

In our hallway, on a tall black dresser, are mom and dad last driver’s license, together they look out of a silver frame.

                                Whether they like it or not, their journey was together.

Genie Nakano, revised.This was published in Rafu, Gardena Valley, Kyoto Journal and a few more…


house warming time
cooking up a storm

      Genie Nakano 
                       July 23, 2021

Photography: Genie Nakano, my stove top, July 23,2021

Did I mention that Natsu means summer in Japan? I’m studying my language now at the ripe old age of being born in 1948.

Rosetta is my friend.

Melting together~~Haiku

Photo: Business owner Matsumotos Shaved Ice in Hawaii
Snow cones
summer sunsets
melt together....
                                        Genie Nakano, July 17, 2021
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on

Photo by owner, black beans shaved ice, ice cream mochi
Photo by business: the line outside Matsumotos Shaved Ice, Hawaii

Shaved ice is popular among us JA's--especially in Hawaii. We make it extra fluffy--yum yum. Matsumoto's is where Obama our President frequented.

Night Walkers

Genie Nakano

at night

walking my dog

a towering shadow

looms over me

my heart beats against my ribs

I can’t breathe

I can’t scream

the shadow grows


I will fight–I will die fighting!!!


It’s my own shadow

Genie Nakano, 3 months ago

The Daily News

Asians attacked and brutally beaten

New York — California–all over our country.

June 21, 2021

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Acts 1, 2, 3… written by Genie Nakano at

Summertime is Sexy.

Genie Nakano

Photo by Victor Freitas on



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Acts 1, 2, 3…

written by: Genie Nakano


If I were
to write a play
about my life
it would be
a comedy of errors

Those musicians…what is it about them that makes my pulse rise and my cheeks blush?

I‘ve fallen in love with one too many. Last affair went on for years. I learned how to do my own form of kickboxing fighting off his other women who were crazier than me. I’m through with drama.

I almost, almost fell again–last night at the Roxy when I heard him play….

oh, sexy
saxophone player
stay away
I’ve taken…

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