Pre-Order Bamboo Ridge’s 100th Anniversary Issue

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I can’t believe this day has finally arrived. You can now pre-order your copy of Bamboo Ridge’s 100 Anniversary Issue. It’s scheduled for print some time in September (happy birthday, me). I sound so grown up! It’s strange.

I can’t express how much it means to me to be included in this issue. Bamboo Ridge, in a lot of ways, has always been part of my life. As a kid, I grew up reading Pass On, No Pass Back! by Darrell Lum. As the little banana that  I was, I frequently read the book aloud to practice my pidgin (which still sucks, by the way) and read it so many times that I cracked the spine of the book. In high school, I remember there was a stack of Growing Up Local books in the corner of my English classroom. It was the first time I recognized someone’s name in print–they belonged to two of my English teachers, Bill Teter and Jim Harstad (three if you count Eric Chock, although I did not have the pleasure of being his student).   Then there was Folks You Meet in Longs and Other Stories by Lee Cataluna. My friend Joni and I (we both were on the speech team in high school) loved to read our favorite monologues to each other. Even though we had graduated by the time that book was published–once a speechie, always a speechie. It’s still one of my favorite pieces of local literature.  When I met Lee years later at a reading for her newest book, Three Years on Doreen’s Sofa, I nearly died from excitement.

So not only being published (which always surprises me), but being published specifically by Bamboo Ridge Press means…well, everything to me. It hardly seems real. Honestly, I’m half-expecting to see my name in the book, but printed in crayon and in my own sloppy handwriting, with some kind of note to turn to the end of the book, which is where I’ve sneakily scotched taped my short story on folder paper to the back cover of the 100th Anniversary Issue.

I Talk to Grandpa

Friday, July 27th, 2012

I talk to Grandpa,
but he never answers back.
Mommy says he can hear me even though he’s not here anymore,
but I don’t know what that means.
Sometimes I talk really loud,
You know, just in case.

Every night Grandma still makes him dinner,
but I don’t know how he eats it.
She always makes his plate before her own,
giving him the softest pieces of meat,
the prettiest sushi.
One time she even gave him some of my french fries
from my McDonald’s Happy Meal,
but I didn’t say anything.

Sometimes I help Grandma with dinner,
She says I have to make sure I give Grandpa enough rice.

“Moah,” she says. “Grandpa like plenny rice.”

So I give him a big scoop,
the kind that’s hard to balance on the paddle.
She tells me to grab him a can of Bud Light from the fridge
And says when I get older, she’ll let me pour him a cup.
For now, she says, I’m just in charge of the rice.

She sets it down next to his picture and prays.
Sometimes I think he smiles at her when she’s not looking.
A small smile hiding in the dimple of his right cheek.

I don’t know how to pray to Grandpa.
Mommy says to just tell him about my day,
as I watch her light the seinko and press it into the dark sand.
She closes her eyes when she talks to Grandpa,
and squeezes her hands together until they turn white.
I know this because I peeked.

I’m not supposed to play near Grandpa’s altar,
but sometimes I lay in his room when it’s hot.
I press my face against the matted carpet
and sometimes the house moves like it’s exhaling slowly.

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Felt like posting the original poem. Here is the 100-word version of it for Bamboo Ridge’s monthly writing contest.