naoko shin

poetry breathes life into words…my words

synchronistic encounters: part iii

Raising Mina

I wrote about my synchronistic encounter with a long-lost friend in synchronistic encounter: part ii and wanted to share my aha moment.

To be honest, a part of me wanted to say so much more, to reply charged with emotion. I wanted to win the argument, have the last word. I struggled with it and it was so hard to resist, but in the end, I realized that none of that matters. (Plus, the satisfaction from a snarky remark would be momentary, only to leave a lasting sentiment of regret.) By creating distance, removing emotion, and seeing our shared past as it was, not overwrought and blinded by emotion, I felt like I gained power over it.

To admit even further, I think that part of me sought one-upmanship. I wanted to feel superior, to validate my meaning over hers as wiser or more meaningful. How foolish of me. If I’ve come to understand and made my meaning…

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synchronistic encounters: part ii

Raising Mina

I wrote about synchronistic encounters in my previous post and want to continue that thought here.

I believe everything happens for a reason, even if one can’t see the reason in that moment. The encounter of this book, “Love” by Leo Buscaglia, was synchronistic in more ways than one, addressing so many of the personal issues I’ve struggled with for so long. It spoke to me, cheered for me, and reassured me on my path. It was a perfect nudge of support to navigate another interesting synchronistic encounter, this time, with a long-lost friend.

Last year on my birthday, I gave myself permission to cleanse, let loose on paper the occasional and obnoxious tinge of shame from my past. As I revisited those words today, they are clearly strung with anger and resentment. I only note this to share that I was still struggling with my past then, even after…

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synchronistic encounters

I wanted to share a post form my other blog: Raising Mina. Happy Reading!

Raising Mina

I love synchronistic encounters, whether that may be a person or, in this case, this wondrous book: “Love: What Life Is All About” by Leo Buscaglia

I added this book to my reading list from reading excerpts from Brain Pickings (Leo Buscaglia on Education, Industrialized Conformity, and How Stereotypes and Labels Limit Love and A “Dynamic Interaction”: Leo Buscaglia on Why Love Is a Learned Language) a few months ago and it just sat there on my list, waiting patiently. I felt the urge to start my New Year with this book, along with a few others, and I am beyond glad that I listened.

I just started two days ago but I’m already so captivated by his words and ideas, willing to learn, grow and “take what is right for [me]” from all that he is sharing.

This quote hit home hard and gave me a boost of confidence…

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Richard Serra‘s
of steel
in illogical
exquisite ways
to exist
to express
as a testament
to his artistic mind
a visceral vision
destined to be borne
listening patiently,
waiting attentively,
learning its rules
its language
to free
his fleeting belief
of a beauty
so absurd
only to be surprised
at the awe-full
fluidity: strange distinct familiar
mastery of his own imagination.

is our testament
our unflinching vision
of a love
so absurd
only to be surprised
at the wonder-full
vulnerability: strong supple true
mastery of our imagination;
mastery of our unconditional poetry.


(April 10, 2008)

onlies or siblings: my dilemma

Here’s a piece I wrote on my other blog: Raising Mina. Happy reading!

Raising Mina

Pregnancy and motherhood brought with them many unexpected thoughts and surprising ponderings, like choosing to keep the gender of our baby a surprise until the birth. I just wanted to keep every step as natural as possible; meaning minimal intervention and letting nature take its course. To me, finding  the gender from a medical device felt artificial and unromantic but I wasn’t confident I’d have the patience to wait 9 months either. Then my husband and I had a thoughtful conversation and I didn’t want to know anymore, I wanted to wait. He shared with me that he didn’t want to have any preconceived notions about the baby based on gender; that wasn’t fair to the baby. He wanted to have a clear slate, a fresh start from the moment he met him|her. I had never thought of it this way and this notion hit home hard. I didn’t want…

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I map my nakedness in poetry

That barking fear is broken.
I am ready now to undress.
I want to wear my nakedness with grace.
I want to own my nakedness.
These scars spell out my name.
This naked profile, my sensual fingerprint,
is etched with the intricate nuances of my womanhood.

I see my mother in my hands.
I see my grandmother in my feet.
The beauty and glory of my ancestors
are written on me.
Their wisdom is woven in my skin.

I won’t shy away from my nakedness.
Imperfections no longer repulse me.
Sexuality no longer disgusts me.
Solitude no longer haunts me.
No longer fearful,
they are a ceremony,
each an expression of my richness.
I embrace, I embody, I cradle them
as the emblem of my womanhood.

My beauty lies within the sensual unfolding of
desires and pleasures
and secrets and lies.
Stripped of pretension,
this unadorned beauty, this vulnerable courage
shines with gentle confidence,
untamed and unapologetic.

Wedding Vows

As I make my solemn vows to Naoko, I want to thank my family and friends for preparing me for this day.

no one else can hold the light as you do,
boldly cupped like nectar in your slender
hands. no one else bears so well the weight of

my dreams. when i perceive the place where true
growth begins, there is only you, Love, at
its core. here, all light wears your silver scent.

“When I think of you,
I feel eternity most intimately.” (from Takamura Kotaro)

I promise to honor the daily rituals that have become our ceremonies,
and to continue to celebrate the beauty we find in these mindful gestures of love.

I promise to always communicate with you from the center of my existence.

I promise to make our love “a moving, growing, working together, whether there is harmony or conflict, joy or sadness.” (from Erich Fromm)

I promise to always and forever be grateful for the gift that you are in my life.

Eien no ai wo koko ni chikaimasu.

As I make my solemn vows to Tim, I want to thank my family and friends for preparing me for this day.  Though she’s not here today, I’d especially like to thank my Obachan for her constant presence and love; Arigato.

if you were my poem
I would savor you
like our sweet morning coffee
and dance along to the
rhythmic clickings
of your spoon against my cup

if you were my poem
I would find
a coffee cup
still atatakai from
the warmth of your lips

thank you,
for leaving behind
a kiss
on my morning sip

“When I think of you,
I feel eternity most intimately.” (from Takamura Kotaro)

I promise to honor the daily rituals that have become our ceremonies,
and to continue to celebrate the beauty we find in these mindful gestures of love.

I promise to always communicate with you from the center of my existence.

I promise to make our love “a moving, growing, working together, whether there is  harmony or conflict, joy or sadness.” (from Erich Fromm)

I promise to always and forever be grateful for the gift that you are in my life.



I reflect on my deviant adolescence and early adulthood, and I wonder what life would have been like for my family if I hadn’t been so lucky. I tested the reach of my ancestors’ protective arms. I am humbled, I can’t believe I survived. Already drunk at 13, I was fearless, audacious, feisty to a point unimaginable in my sober states. I found new ways to give luck the middle finger. Bottomless drinking. Drunk driving. Innocent recklessness. It was as if I were playing tag with death. I resented my family, especially my Papa, and I escaped in drunkenness just as he did. Go figure. I learned from the best.

Our families and relatives were big drinkers. Mama drank regularly with us inside her. We all had a predilection to alcohol. We never lacked lessons on drunkenness from Papa, and it became our refuge. I don’t remember much of my childhood, but his drunken episodes linger with foul clarity.

Our life was full of pretense. A good-looking family, we appeared happy. A shallow extravagance filled the void created by the absence of affection and integrity. A sleek, black Mercedes. A racehorse that never raced. A thousand dollars cash under my pillow for my birthday. Colossal losses at casinos. Our extravagance was borrowed. Our pretense shouted that everything was just alright. It was consistently shattered along with the glasses and ochawan, the cordless phones and remote controls, even my Mama’s ribs. And my childhood. But the pretense was as resilient as any other habit. It would be right back in place the next morning, though more fragile and less convincing to me every time it reset. I learned to feel disgust.

Back to my initial question…if I had run out of luck earlier in life, I wonder how my family would have reacted. If I was dead, would they be more reflective? When I was a premature baby with a high risk of retardation or blindness, did they pray? If I had fallen on the other side of chance, retarded or blind, how would they have treated me? With love? Remorse? Shame? Would they have embraced compassion, or would I have been too heavy a burden to carry? I began life with slim chances at survival or normalcy, and here I am now. Just lucky, I guess.

I haven’t received a single phone call from my parents since I moved to the States 13 years ago. Not on my birthday. Not at the New Year. Not even when my Obachan passed away. Never. I could be dead, sick, or in danger and they wouldn’t know it for months. There must be meaning in this. We exist without each other, except for our brief, annual visits. Without the extravagance, the pretense, nothing is left to fill that familiar void for me. This distanced silence accentuates their vanity. They ignore the problem and replace the feelings with luxurious gifts. That’s the solution they’ve cultivated and carefully preserved. I don’t want another Gucci bag, I just want them to call me.

I write to them. I write about them. I continue to write and there’s no response. Nothing.


These films of the unconscious induce my curiosity to crawl back into that darkness, that unfolding of vivid visions, of esoteric illusions. My will to wake suffocates. I know I should get out of bed yet I am seduced by this delving, already under the spell of naked gravity.

There lies something dark in this act of self-observation or, rather, a submission to my unconscious state, to my subconscious existence. What does my submission mean? My choice to hand control to my subconscious by putting my consciousness to sleep…what does this mean?

Yet another dawn of submission, relenting to euphoric, effortless sleep. To drift off and away, to sink, float, and drown in weightlessness. What lies beneath this deliberate momentum to be swallowed in sleep? Laziness or torture? Pleasure or punishment? Is it a giving up or a giving in? A release? A surcease?

Tonight, haunted by those dark hours of dawn, I am buried in restlessness where time expands its frame, becomes thick and heavy, extends its arms exponentially.

I am saturated with sleep, disturbed.

Plum Rain

梅 Rain
Plum 雨

ume candy jollies around my mouth.
my teeth and tongue frolic in sweet-tart sap.
finding the perfect crease,
the ume pit plants itself,
on my tongue,
spreads its roots into the walls of my mouth.
branches multiply before my eyes,
bursting with blossoms,
that declare my peace, my love,
my nature,
each a ripe, red blush.

just as the first ume bud opens its lips,
a fragrant downpour of ume rain in japan
unlocks Mama’s ribs,
her caged heart soars.
a crisp plum breeze
resuscitates the weary wings of her withering spirit.

she listens her way home,
humming a song to her soul.

she sleeps in my branches,
singing a lullaby of mercy,
of resolve.

it is a gift,