by Ken Tokuno

Coming of age on a farm in Sacramento was not my choice.
I spent my teen years driving tractors through dust so thick
I would emerge at the end of the day with nostrils clogged
With black grit. I would watch the sorghum seeds we planted rise
Like the soldiers sowed by Jason, knowing I would have
To fight through them all summer, being scalded by the sun.

Many times, hooked to the plants’ needs, I would struggle
With my boots and shovel through midnight to dose
The dry earth so that we would be able to harvest, what?
Cow food. Now in Kaneohe my wife and I have a yard
And I tell her with no hesitation that I hate gardening.
It is too redolent. Digging out weeds is the same

No matter where the weeds are growing. Blisters
Are the same whether they come from raking leaves
Or shoveling through earth. Yet, when I see the yard covered
With weeds I cannot help myself. I must clear the yard
As if to clog my nostrils with a drug, must bring those blisters
To my palms, then look at what I have done and tremble with joy.


Ken Tokuno was raised in California, mostly in the Sacramento area. Learning how to write poetry late in life at the University of Washington, he now has published poetry in Seattle Review, The Bellowing Ark, Bamboo Ridge, as well as Hawai`i Pacific Review and other magazines. His collection of Poems, Orchard, was published in 2007. He now lives in Kaneohe, Hawai`i with his wife, artist Diane Nushida Tokuno.

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