Kou Sugita

Every time I return to native soil,
mother            I fear the loss of
where needles and bottles
are just rules to existing. Where
the hottest hour of the day is like
                        two lovers huddling
to stay sober, a sapphire so beautifully

Here, a billboard flashes to my foot tap
passing, traveling through
a smoke of cars
                        to Hakodate.
When we arrive
grandmother greets us
her hair a thick spread of
                        white streaks.
She bakes a kabocha squash inside
                        my blistered belly.
Here, I relearn a rice-full

Native soil becomes the disagreement
between the cicadas singing and the
                        children gathering
to kick the can.
I do not belong in utopia.
And if I follow
the tight grip of my
                        mother’s hand,
escaping an earthquake
is feasible.

The raccoon steals
from its neighbors’ hens. Our mothers
can only offer what
they can carry
                        in their arms.
As children we always
take and take.

Kou Sugita lives in Los Angeles, California and was born in Sapporo, Japan. A former assistant editor at the Hiram Poetry Review and Best of the Net nominee, his writing has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, t.NY Press, Ofi Press, The Fem, Voicemail Poems, and elsewhere. Sugita is currently a senior at Pitzer College and just launched where he is an editor.