W. Todd Kaneko

My grandmother once fed me
clementines in the living room
while she spoke with my father,

words in Japanese dropping
like spiders from her lips, scurrying
across the carpet and into shadow.

My father shook his head,
spoke in a low tone about mortgages,
about housepaint and plaster,
about my dead grandfather

watching us from the box
containing his ashes on the mantle
with a candle and a shriveled orange.

Where fruit is an offering of love
or a splash of kindness to distract
a boy from conversations about death,

my tongue can’t get enough
of the curl of citrus, sharp and cloying
then turning quickly to thirst.

I want it to be fine to eat like we are
standing in the orchard,

like it’s late summer and the boughs
are bending under the weight

of the harvest, like the language of trees
is something I can understand.


W. Todd Kaneko

is the author of the poetry books This is How the Bone Sings (Black Lawrence Press, 2020) and The Dead Wrestler Elegies, 2nd Edition (New Michigan Press, 2021). He is co-author with Amorak Huey of Poetry: A Writers’ Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), and Slash / Slash, winner of the 2020 Diode Editions Chapbook Contest. A Kundiman Fellow, he teaches at Grand Valley State University and lives with his family in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Art by Jean Wolff

“Blue Painting 6”

Enamel on Board on Panel

Jean Wolff has had group and solo exhibits in various galleries in New York City and internationally. In addition, she has published 109 works in 76 issues of 52 different magazines. Born in Detroit, Michigan, she studied fine arts at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit and at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, receiving a BFA in studio arts. She then attended Hunter College, CUNY in New York, graduating with an MFA in painting and printmaking. She is now part of the artistic community of Westbeth in Manhattan. For a complete exhibition list and bibliography, please visit www.jeanwolff.com

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