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March 2017

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In Memoriam

Maria Remedios "Dette" Kaplan-Brown
(March 18, 1947 – January 31, 2017)

This month’s issue of “Poet of the Month” is a special tribute to Maria Remedios “Dette” Kaplan-Brown, a UPLI member (and sister of UPLI President Virgilio “Gil” Yuzon), who recently passed away on January 31, 2017. Dette was a multi-talented artist. She was an accomplished painter who held well-received exhibits in recent years, as well as being a poet and a writer.

Dette leaves behind her loving and devoted husband Reuben D. Brown. She is survived by her daughters Thea and Stasha who is married to Jonathan Bye, and their child Elliott Joshua Bye. Dette’s other sibling is Maria Lourdes “Manette” Y. Cortes, a younger sister.

Below are several of her poems from her excellent collection of poetry which she had intended to publish this year. The first poem titled “Don’t Stop Dreaming” was written sometime last year when she had realized that she had very limited time left in her life on this earth due to her illness.

Dette will be greatly missed by those whose lives she has touched with her sensitivity and empathy.


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Six months, the doctor warned

Six months to cram everything into a life.

Not long enough to age a bottle of wine

Or plan for another harvest.

How does one turn six months of life into a gift?

Don’t stop dreaming insisted the wise man.

We all know that time runs out on everyone

But dreams don’t expire when we do.

They live on in other dreamers

Who will write better stories, paint better pictures.

Let not limitations define you.

Confirm what you already know

A rich life outweighs a long one.

Choosing life, not merely existence

Therein lies the challenge.

Let not physical discomfort or pain

Make you oblivious to earthly joys

That come with being here. Now.

Rejoice even while bound by the dimension of time.

Give thanks for when it finally lets you free.

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In the morning, the mind

Purged of dreams from restful sleep

Sits tame and content; the heart

Eager with possibilities

Constructs a poem or two.

Sounds of coffee shops opening

Soothe, like music, the collective psyche

Igniting expectations

And providing comfort

To a caffeine-craving world.

Morning air intoxicates

Courses though veins like alcohol

Stokes the hero within

Daring it to be dauntless


Mornings bring new beginnings,

Resumed friendships, promised changes.

Countless mornings have welcomed me

Generous with their light

How many more await me?

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Scowling clouds line the sky

Air is fragrant with soil smell

Wind teases the rustling trees

As they sway in a flirtatious dance

Anticipating rain.

I descend into slow

Sink into relaxed mode

All urgency is lost

And tranquil takes over.

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As my soul reels

from the endless jabs

of day to day life

there is a secret part of me

that is lit, full of peace

untouched by the swirling chaos without.

It glows, searing hope

into my inner landscape

constant even when i falter.

it prods, cajoles me

to use the painful shards

of experience to write poetry

or assemble them into one more painting.

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One precious hour

Before bus leaves for the airport.

One hour to reflect

To indulge the remembering self.

A fixture on the Japanese landscape

An oddity to tourists like myself,

The ubiquitous vending machine

Displaying pop bottles in rainbow colors

Stands nonchalant on road sides and corners

Patiently waiting for the usual 100 yen.

Bicycles darting on and off sidewalks,

Bicycles navigating swollen crowded streets

Proudly carrying precious cargo

Of business people in business suits,

Sleepy babies strapped to their mothers’ backs.

Subway signs in Japanese

Meaning to help but befuddling instead

Costing fifteen minutes of travel time to decode.

Once the puzzle is solved and the route determined

Relief comes in the form of trains that run on time.

All the time.

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(At my studio by the Bay)

Staring at the bay

Lost in meditative thought

Grateful for this peace.


Inspiration gone

I resume painting nonsense

When will it return.


Piles of finished art

Waiting to be hung somewhere

Perpetual hope burns.


Let me not lose heart

Ten thousand hours of practice

Will make me better.


I work hurriedly

Arms moving, fingers flying

She is coming soon.


Inspiration comes

At last breaking the dry spell

At work by the bay.

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(End of September)

Delightful morning

Coffee and a newspaper

Blissful existence.


Your anger found me

But I had already gone

That was very close.


What was your excuse?

Running out of ideas?

Or did your heart break?


My lover left me

Your hands reached out for my face

That was the best gift.

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Night falls with a thud

Weighed down by a million stars

She is never late.

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