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For Kip Tokuda

By Lawrence Matsuda, For The North American Post

In Memory of Kip

Tess, the day I received your last poem  

from Ireland about your brother’s illness,  

my friend, Kip, died of a heart attack 

casting trout lines on a small Whidbey Island lake. 

Shocked and brain tired,  

I consult your imagination 

where Native American visions reside. 

You instruct me to build a driftwood bonfire at midnight  on Alki beach, near the stone lighthouse on the Salish Sea where silver salmon school in green kelp beds. 

Orange flames explode gnarled limbs and branches 

as they spark into crackling fireflies.  

Smoke sprints North over the bay 

like skywriter vapor trails, leaving charcoal  

for war paint and petroglyph drawings. 

You share a prayer with me, 


mystical Buddhist sutra of the Lotus 

unfolding to enlightenment.

I strike the brass singing bowl. 

Clear like a cast iron bell it rings. Then 

crisp high pitch fades to a thin thread. 

Echoes call bald eagles nesting  

in cedars above the sandy cliffs. 

Under a full moon, 

above roiling whitecaps,  

black and white messengers glide,  

dive and summon the Orca pods.

A fisherman king has died. 

From “Glimpses of a Forever Foreigner: Poetry and Artwork Inspired by Japanese American Experiences,” poems by Lawrence Matsuda, artwork by Roger Shimomura, 2014; CreateSpace, Charleston, SC, 106 pp.