First Reaction | Kou Sugita

-after 3/11 and my mother’s painting

I can’t stand it,” my mother says in
Japanese. Her computer screen is a sea
monster stirring a whirlpool, swallowing
her focus whole.

She’s learning about dispossession, about
what happens to an empire, a battle castle
laying flat on a dragons back, that still
manages to catch flame underneath
oceans deep; you know when the life in
our brittle bone like bricks begin to
crumble—one with the sinking hearts of
thousands. Even I could feel the rumble
of bulldozers creating chaos in the ocean.
A rule in the Pacific, monster.

My mother paints a white longhaired
Siamese cat. It is caught in autumn fire at
forest edge, the ocean blue in
Thanksgiving rain, silk hands clenching
its neck. A house is drowning. The cat is
drowning. My mother is twirling &
drowning thinking about a local park in
fragments, the children in commotion.
They like to stomp the nests that snuggle
between the cracks. Lots of gold & shiny
things there too. Because everybody loses
themselves in treasure—because
everyone lost themselves underwater.

My my head hurts, I’m going to lie
.” My mother is dream picking for
bright orange ones now. I’ll dream of
letting my heart sink in.

Kou Sugita was born in Sapporo, Japan and now lives in Los Angeles. A former assistant editor at the Hiram Poetry Review, his writing has appeared or is forthcoming in AAWW’s The Margins, t.NY Press, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Ofi Press (Mexico City), Voicemail Poems, and elsewhere. He has been nominated for Best of the Net. Sugita is currently a senior at Pitzer College and just launched

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