DOGGED by AMERICA By Jinko Gotoh


Mama gave money to the sea gods
to protect us from turbulent seas
Awajishima tradition for the newborn

We feasted on the fruits of the sea:
abalone, squid, and oysters,
and fragrant matsutake
freshly picked
from the matsu forest of Awajishima
island birthed by deities and forefathers of Japan

Yet Papa yearned for America

Picket white fences, golden grand canyon, spaghetti and meatballs
“Lady and the Tramp”
My first movie
at Hibiya theatre in Tokyo
I still see the deep purple-red curtains
feel the soft velvet seats on the backs of my legs

I wanted a dog

Poco a prized Scottish Terrier
My fifth birthday present
from Papa’s brother
He was rich unlike us
But Poco was not so smart
and would wander out
Local police find him
and bring him back
One day he left
for good

Mama said he was stolen
because he was so valuable

Oba-chan and Toto came to live with us
because Papa was in California
She said Toto was just like the dog
from “Wizard of Oz”
Movie I did not know

Oba-chan used to work for the missionaries
she told us many stories
My favorite was
Toto would go to the butcher
carry home
a bag of deep fried croquettes
wrapped around his neck
A smart dog unlike Poco

Next time I saw America was on the TV screen
Motorcade, hazy desert, and loud gun shot
not at all like my first movie

John F Kennedy is dead

Papa said we are all moving to America
I assumed he meant Toto too.
But then Oba-chan and Mama took Toto out on errand
when they returned Toto nowhere in sight
They said that Toto was too old
and could not move to America

Toto was put to sleep
just like JFK

Lay in peace

Once so bright, surreal and magical
America felt like a sacrifice
dark, harsh and lonely

By Jinko Gotoh


Jinko Gotoh is an award-winning producer and consultant. Her strengths and passion include discovering new voices, nurturing creative talent, and charting new technologies and creative processes. Her producing screen credits include: 2020 BAFTA winner and Oscar-nominated Klaus, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The Little Prince, Oscar-nominated The Illusionist, 9, and Oscar-winning Finding Nemo. Jinko serves as the vice president for Women in Animation, an advocacy organization to advance women and all under-represented people in the industry. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Math and MFA in Film from Columbia University. Jinko is a published poet and rescuer of many, many dogs on the side.

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