Dad Called It Camp

Tule Lake        Jerome Arkansas        the Santa Anita Racetrack
but to me as a boy        camp meant        a green pup tent
blue-and-white water jug        Coleman gas stove        packed
in the back        of our Ford Falcon wagon        Mom Dad Mari me
swaddled together        two sleeping bags        warm even in rain
Mari with tight grip        at each end        of a stick
gill-kebobbing        five silvery fish        Dad caught in the lake
he said he learned        to cook in camp        perfected judo throws
in brother Mits’s club        chased brother Frank        with a garter snake
sounded like        a long vacation        my mother got sick and died
in camp        the only sad thing he said        no mention
of barbed wire        guard towers        cold wind or hot dust
blowing through rows        and rows        and rows of barracks

Aaron Caycedo-Kimura is the author of Common Grace (Beacon Press, 2022) and Ubasute (Slapering Hol Press, 2021). His honors include a MacDowell Stanford Calderwood Fellowship, a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry, a St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award in Literature, and nominations for The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets anthologies. His work appears in Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Plume, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere.