Aaron Caycedo-Kimura

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Aaron Caycedo-Kimura

the poet

Aaron Caycedo-Kimura is a poet, painter, and cartoonist whose poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, DMQ Review, Tule Review, Louisiana Literature, The Night Heron Barks, and elsewhere. Aaron earned his MFA in creative writing from Boston University and is a recipient of a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry. With Ubasute, he won the 2020 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition. 

the poems

Family Anthem

00:00 / 01:44

       I walk into the garage    from side door sunlight    ELO on my Walkman

       my eyes dissolve the darkness    to discover my parents     locked

       in a slow-dance embrace    whispering to each other    like lovers


       but my parents aren’t lovers    they’re Japanese    never kiss     hold hands

       say I love you    not even to me    once I asked Mom if she loved me

       she replied    my mother and father never said it    but I knew they did


       my parents hear my shuffle    separate like guilty teenagers     she escapes

       into the house    he into the Ford    opens the garage door    I fumble

       forget what I was looking for    but all afternoon    replay that dissonant chord

What’s Kept Alive

00:00 / 01:44

              She crunches her walker

              into the sea of pebbles

              surrounding the stepping-stones,


              tells me, This bush

              with flowers is Japanese.

              That one is too, but different.


              I hover close behind, ready

              with an outstretched arm

              as if to give a blessing.


              Pick that large weed

              near the lanternby the roots

              and throw it into the pail.


              My father planned and planted

              this garden fifty years ago—

              hidden behind the fence

              of their Santa Rosa tract home—


              but he’s gone now.

              She hires a hand to rake leaves,

              prune branches once a month.


              Soon she’ll be gone.

              I’ll sell the house,

              return to Connecticut.


              A stranger will buy it,

              become caretaker of the garden,

              but won’t know that from their


              San Francisco apartment

              my father transported

              the Japanese maple, cradled

              in a small clay pot —


              the momiji now guarding

              the north corner—

              and that my mother chided him

              for bothering with a dying shrub.

The Hardest Part

00:00 / 01:44

              The fire truck siren downstairs

              raided the air of my mother's dreams.

              She'd scream in her sleep, my father

              told me, even after we married.

              More than a decade past


              the Second World Warfor him,

              American concentration camps,

              for her, the firebombing of Tokyo

              they moved into a San Francisco

              apartment that rented to Japs,

              a one-bedroom walk-up above

              the Post Street fire station.


              They painted their bathroom black

              It was in style then—shelved

              books, unboxed a new rice cooker,

              watered a shrub of Japanese maple

              potted for their future garden.


              When the station got a call

              in the middle of the night, the rumble

              of the overhead door crumbled into the wreck

              that was once her home. Swirling lights

              flashed ancient trees into flames

              through the thin silk curtains of her eyelids.


              No warning, no drill, no cover.


              My father stilled her body,

              his broad hand on her shoulder or hip

              as they lay in the dark listening

              to the slowing of her breath.


              The hardest part of those nights,

              he said, was waiting—

              sometimes hours—for the truck

              and the men to come back.

Publishing credits

Family Anthem: DMQ Review

What’s Kept Alive: Hartford Courant

The Hardest Part: Hartford Courant