Jane Joritz-Nakagawa


Listen to the audio version read by Melissa Cotter.

implanted deep in the breasts of all
women & flung
on the dunghill of which we
sing of course i've always wondered
about the sound of doors and walls
if i stand here will my future come faster
because at certain points there is a smell that won't wash out
even in your evening gown that scared you
out of your wits and left you standing holding a handful
of almost nothing
embarrassed i strike a pose as if
life will go on forever the sea
keeps on breathing for me even when all hope
is lost & all that is left is the detention center
a child waiting in vain to be picked up at the schoolyard

what sort of decaying mist wants that and who will clean
up a frog run over by a car i certainly wouldn't
want to be tied to this city
it wouldn't need to be a real frog and the sky
could be clear
yet once the scene has been painted it's
unlikely to change
just as you smile through the rituals of
your problems to entertain guests you
could lose yourself & no one might
touch you or you'd go home with
someone else's husband
imagining he is your first and only
love the one who once waited
patiently on your doorstep

is it beside the point
that you never showed
up, that the roses bloomed large

i am becoming the evening inside a dream
a display of somber statues
waving me forward
a contradictory fog funneling into a
distant gaze the shadow of each horizon
placed randomly like an inner life
a thin meadow becoming an overstatement
a tree speaking to a tree
i was sitting at a narrow desk or believing i was
i knew what i saw could cause me to melt
into small droplets like a drizzle of
a coming plague stinging my back
all night long

things i love in a basket at my bedside
where an endless vigil appears
like a deserted mirage
i draw a picture of fake grass
and eat it
i kneel and pray for the emergence
of new chemical factories
i eat the insides of the factories on the
outside of my tongue
half the population in a directionless canoe
further reductions in directions
a gaping hole here there take
this thing i've made for you and bury it

and the fake grass which makes it so
lack of the (sudden appearance of) and
while i pause forever at the top of the
stairs a tiny madness swimming near
my heels a soggy present in a cart
at dawn raising your glass in anonymity

a pasture of pain in a downpour of feeling
each branch hanging indiscreetly

in the sleepless dreams of politicians
are standard operating procedures
for waiting games
coiled like a snake
in the path of the wind
while simultaneously powdering my nose
the night pressing up against me
i doubted it then and now
the words dropping from my mouth have holes
in them my inner yolk is late and feeding
itself a strange mission making myth
of planets my sore eye
is irritable and expectant
as i watch my muscles not moving
missing body parts make me whole
(and you and then and passerby)

a kind of defense mechanism for
inventing new types of impermanence
its dull sheen, its honest stupidity
a humdrum dialogue bracing for a fall
i spend a year in my room
i resist the temptation to starve myself
finally all i can do is
fashion myself into a sci fi character
in order to survive

the season disappoints me
my luck falters slips on wet stones
my dreams transparent and addictive
the moment when drugs bring sleep
dark stains on a carpet
balls of dust on a wooden floor
the guests who cancelled
get out of a silver car
like the one parked outside blocking
the driveway a prancing dog
crushed the flowers and storms
broke the windows
an elderly woman pushes a metal cart
her back shaped like a tanuki i want to bury my thoughts in the
yard & visit a museum in my mind
sculptures float toward me and hug me
then retreat
pinned to a wall my body flutters
calm in a way only the dead know
the eye in its orbit
night shade


Jane Joritz-Nakagawa's ninth book of poetry, terrain grammar, is forthcoming with theenk Books (USA) as is an anthology of poetry and short essays by fifty women poets currently living in a country other than that of their birth edited by Nakagawa titled women : poetry : migration [an anthology]. Other recent publications are the chapbooks diurnal and wildblacklake and the full length books Distant Landscapes and FLUX. Nakagawa can be reached via janejoritznakagawa (at) gmail.com.