Extra Bold [a poetry collection]

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Extra Bold

a poetry collection

Table of Contents Introduction Dandelion Garden From Riceball to Donut No Doubt I’m a Girl Scout Assimilation do you have origins in the orient? The Poet-Waitress How to Live in a Van Dating Chapter 2: The Downfall Doubt Doomsday Daughter Dirty Laundry A Dream Achieved Glory Days Chronology

Introduction Extra Bold is a collection of poems that shows the progression of one woman’s life from childhood to adulthood. She navigates through hardships, questions of her identity, and love with boldness.

Dandelion Garden We ran barefoot in our new sundresses; a game of tag that went until sunset, with breaks to catch our breath, eat snacks, and laugh. The winner was always bestowed a crown of braided dandelions from the field. We named the space dandelion garden, since vacant lot was already taken. We searched for four leaf clovers and made wishes on dandelion puffs. But summer ends: the land was sold for cheap. A fence was built. At first we climbed over it but bulldozers came quickly. Then cement was mixed and poured. In honor of what once was, by the fence we placed a bouquet of dandelions

Haiku, with loose translation

Sundress and bare feet, braided dandelion crown— you smell like summer.

サンドレスと素足, 編まれたタンポポの冠— あなた、夏の香りするな

From Riceball to Donut Eager, I anticipate my surprise hidden at the center of my riceball: 梅干/うめぼし/umeboshi. I can’t help salivating as I wait: sour, salty, sweet—an awakening. An explosion of flavor hits my mouth; my lips instantly react and pucker. I finally found my umeboshi. Too soon it is gone, leaving rice stained pink. So Mama gives me a second riceball. After school Pokemon is on TV. Misty eats an お握り/onigiri/riceball with 梅干/うめぼし/umeboshi just like I ate for my own lunch today. “Jelly filled donut” is the translation. Maybe because Americans don’t like to eat riceballs but like to eat donuts. What about people like me, who eat both? Riceball for lunch and donut for dessert. I’ll ask Mama later, she will know why. The first time that I encounter the word “umeboshi” translated and explained I reconsider. “Pickled plums” sounds gross to my American born ears. Donuts are better than pickles and plums. The only normal pickles are gherkins and everyone knows fruit is always sweet. There is simply no way that I can eat 梅干/うめぼし/umeboshi/pickled plums in my お握り/onigiri/riceball/donut. But it tastes so good.

No Doubt I’m a Girl Scout We make s’mores extra gooey. ‘Round the campfire, we chant songs: “selling thin mints is our civic duty.” Here is where American girls belong. We love arts n’ crafts and iron-on-patches. We need more supplies: glitter and some glue. We try new things to earn new badges. Surprise! We have a present just for you. We will show you how to be a leader , (just follow our rules and never leave us.) With this uniform you become a dreamer, (just pay a few small fees to win our trust.) We have your future all set out: you’ll join a sorority then marry a boy scout.

Assimilation You’re too Asian. Too polite. Too wannabe white. Isn’t that why you dyed your hair blonde? Even when you were a little girl, your Japanese Barbie had blonde hair and blue eyes. Fit in with the right crowd. Just stop being weird about it. Don’t you wish you were white? In math class last period you knew the answer but didn’t raise your hand. And why are you trying out for cheerleading? Don’t you know that Asian girls don’t do that? Omg, I can’t believe how bad you are at math. Everyone saw you flirt with that white guy just now. Don’t you know that he was with this other Asian chick before you? Maybe you know her? To be honest, sometimes you’re really fake. Like just stop trying to be someone you’re not. You’re so whitewashed.

do you have origins in the orient? I am as American as apple dumplings. gyoza. wontons. mandoo. Boil me in the melting pot, then deep fry my identity Now the only question left is: fork or chopsticks?

My America

origami collage

The Poet-Waitress “Extra napkins! and more water-- faster!” begins another day as a waitress. Things will not always be like this forever. I knit a rhyme and begin another when a customer calls out with rudeness “Extra napkins! and more water-- faster!” I’m just a uniform, even to a good tipper. When will they see that I am a poetess? Things will not always be like this forever. The man at table two is reading Chaucer. Thinking of my career causes distress. Extra napkins! and more water-- faster! I recite the menu with much character. Less could be said of my poems, I confess. Things will not always be like this forever. My poetry is always a disaster. I’ll leave this diner once I make progress. Extra napkins! and more water-- faster! (Things will not always be like this forever.)

How to Live in a Van Every seventh day, shower at a motel (Baby wipes are showers redefined.) When body odors settle in your van, sprinkle baking soda around your new home though it can never replace family. Memories are malleable when you’re on an adventure. Make preparations for your adventure: practice identifying the cheap from the sleazy motels. Seal conversations with goodbyes to your family. Constructed concepts of home must be redefined. A packed suitcase is all you need from “home.” Make room by taking out the seats in your van. If you’re awakened by a policeman outside of your van, do not volunteer information about your adventure say, “Sorry officer, I don’t consent to a search of my Home.” (There’d be no policeman if you stayed at that last motel.) Homeless sneers the officer. Now your adventure is redefined. He’s wrong. This is your home. You have cops in your family. A 24 hour Walmart parking lot means more than family. It promises safety as you try sleeping in your van. This lot is unconditional love redefined. Many emotions would be unfelt but for this adventure. And new realities surface as you pull into a motel, like the fact that you don’t want a traditional home. A windowless Ford E-350: that’s home. You’re a wanderer without the attachments of a family. You’ll spend Christmas at some nameless motel. Now life orbits around your van. Peanut butter and tuna stew fuel your adventures. Not everyone understands: this is your life redefined.

Notions of what is acceptable must be redefined. Geography and stability do not determine home. Starting the ignition signals a new adventure. Someday you’ll be ready to visit your family. What is life without the guidance of your van? There’s always the promise of a bed at the next motel. Keep driving your van in search of the next adventure. Find a family when you stop at the next motel. Keep redefining for yourself what it means to have a home.

Dating Shut me up with your kisses Silence me with you stare. He whispers and whispers shhhh until my thoughts fade away. Then I forget that important thing I was going to say. But I can never forget that I can no longer remember what I was going to say. I will always remember that you would never forget to say “______________.� You speak of love. But affection is a gossamer draped illusion, a veil that functions as a gag.

Chapter 2: The Downfall Goodbye to the boy who smelled of cigarettes and sadness and who never believed in happy endings. You’re not immune to hangovers or bad haircuts, no matter how hard you pretend. It was you who spoke those dangerous words, “I love you.” You don’t exist anywhere in my future. Hello from the girl who knows better now. Who still believes in second chances but never in thirds.

Doubt I first read The Scarlet Letter when I was just fifteen years old. I think I know how this will end. That year, I gave my first sermon. I could never seem to please them, those church ladies who always paused to note the length of my dresses while I grasped onto the pulpit. I became a pastor. I guess it’s the family profession. I’m better at preaching now but now their speculation has turned to my growing belly. I’m good at what I do. I brought life to this dying church but do I still want this anymore? Every Sunday I ask the crowd, “brothers, sisters: are you loving life?” but I can’t answer myself.

Mixed Emotions

Doomsday Daughter The rapture came at last. Glass bottles smash the ground. Like fireworks, shards will burst and fly. The Times announced the End. Withdraw all cash we saved: confetti cash to make parades. Apocalypse concert: no earplugs needed here to keep away the clash of drums. While others cower scared, we mix burnt reds and laugh. Our paintbrushes stained with chaos now. A dance without a song, all people absent, gone. The earth revolves around our fate.

Dirty Laundry I never believed in separating the light from dark laundry. Each spin cycle I welcome dizzying tumbles once more. I can’t avoid haphazard collisions. Never ending centrifugal motion. He told me I should dry laundry outside on a clothesline, like his mom used to do. I didn’t think it was worth the effort but reluctantly I tried. It rained that day. I loaded the clothes into the dryer. I feel guilty for searching his laundry, looking for proof of another woman. He was clean but I wish I found something; I’d wring him dry. Squeeze out what’s left of him. Then discard happy memories like lint. I admit, this dance is mesmerizing; socks convene with bath towels and dress shirts. Convince myself that opposites attract. Whirling in harmony. But what happens when the music stops? When no time is left? What would life be without doing laundry? I’ll still fold clean clothes, each time forgetting crimson red dye will stain white bed sheets pink.

A Dream Achieved What happens to a dream deferred?—Langston Hughes What has an achieved dream endured? How many friends has it abandoned? How many other dreams has it soaked up and wrung dry? What sacrifices must it make? How much criticism must it take? I have simple dreams surrounded by white picket fences: waiting, waiting for me to unlock the latched gate.

A Dream Achieved What happens to a dream deferred?—Langston Hughes What has an achieved dream endured? How many friends has it abandoned? How many other dreams has it soaked up and wrung dry? What sacrifices must it make? How much criticism must it take? I once had dreams but now I’m surrounded by white picket fences locked, locked within the latched gate.

Glory Days For Grandma Lois The regulars leave an empty seat for her even though it’s getting crowded now. The bartender pours her favorite drink; they toast to Luci’s memory, the woman who’d snap “you’d do the same, after my marriage.” Her favorite bar was always Glory Days. Tonight the blinking neon welcome sign is paired with messages from the reader board: Ladies night. A fundraiser. Rest easy Luci.

Chronology of Events


President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 resulting in the forcible removal of Japanese Americans from their homes and into segregated camps. Lucinda Sato’s grandparents meet at Camp Tulelake.


Lucinda Sato is born on December 7th.


Lucinda stops attending Japanese school on Saturdays.


A recession effects the United States economy. While attending community college, Lucinda takes on a job as a waitress.


Lucinda moves out of her family’s home and is temporarily homeless.


To the disapproval of family and friends, Lucinda moves in with her boyfriend.


Lucinda’s first daughter is born. Lucinda and her boyfriend break up.


Lucinda’s daughter first learns that she has cancer.


Lucinda marries and starts a new family.


Lucinda passes away.

This is Yoshika Wason’s first chapbook. A number of poems in this collection were originally published in ASIAM, an Asian American literary magazine at Boston College, where she was an editor in chief. Yoshika grew up in Bridgeport Connecticut and now lives in Boston Massachusetts. She works in the field of education. To contact her, email y.j.wason@gmail.com.