Hockey Love Letters

by Michael Farrell


Sawako Nakayasu
Clutch: Including Hockey Love Letters
Hawai`i: Tinfish, 2002
Paperback $7: designed by Jung Kim


Brackets are goals [not scores]. I'm not familiar with hockey, I mean love. [I'm not used to eating during turbulence.] My left butt is asleep — we are on a big flying bench — waiting to play in L.A. [      ] means we can't around the water fountain — for reel. The game continues without referees. Sawako Nakayasu's clutch: including hockey love letters (Tinfish, 2002) evokes [       ] but what keeps things together is simple: a rubber band. [      ] activities joined together: hockey, love and poetry. Reading, writing and flying. Is clutch a hockey term?

The above was written during my flight to Los Angeles feeling paranoid about U.S. immigration. I claimed to be on a holiday but why was I bringing so many books into the country? [And wasn't this review work?] I found myself censoring what I wrote — I didn't want them reading obscure references to plane crashes, disrespectful ones to security. That kind of self-censorship recurs… there are some misreadings I don't want to encourage.

I wouldn't write this the way I did if I hadn't been flying… but a glance and h.l.l. opens up to flying metaphors:



First, crank of body.

Before, subtle or extreme left neck.

First, static.

Before, winding.

First, breath.

Before, preliminary angle.

First, love.

Before, eye-impact.

Then, blade.

And air.

Crank again.

More air.




Puck: free now — kisses post — or takes to landing gently in the tender hand of Goalie.



The Vehicle: a large, hollow hockey puck [plane]” and “…Roberto's tacos who are quite groggy because they haven't slept in 24 hours” and “Long Distance Hockey”: “as if the pod doesn't come between let's say ocean”. Metamorphosis isn't something that ends. The pain/shock of love: “Hockey on a [the] [20m 2 ] balcony”. Propelling yourself… / a plane leads to love… impossible love… while lying on the ice leads to stagnation: safety? perhaps but ice isn't as comfortable as you might think. Anything can be bracketed [like this now, hunched over in Orange Manor hostel wearing an orange, burgundy and grey Roma soccer scarf, 8.12am [or this, later, now typing it up in Del Ray Cross' apartment in San Francisco 5.42pm, a survivor] [bracketed from poet contacts and new heartbreak interests]]. The point is… to be fit? keep playing? Clutch: it sounds hopeless, as if our loss is preordained. Love, meaning, letters [numbers] / tape spooling off in Hollywood, a clutch of eggs, the giant chook-angel wing that warms, births them broken off, everything gets tangled if it involves strings [guitar, heart, semantic]. Sawako [was oak, was a-ok] Nakayasu is “too busy cheering for the forces of time or memory,” “the play is breaking my speed” [PERSONAL BALCONY] but “resists. ma-gritte-like,” “spinning her wheels against this ledge” [ZAMBONI-ING THE BALCONY]. Clutch, a car pedal, enabling a change of


[[drugs, clothing]]



BIO: Michael Farrell lives in Melbourne and is the Australia editor of Slope. ode ode (Salt Publishing 2003) is his first book.

alerts index

table of contents