Sawako NakayasuSawako Nakayasu

Working Note

I work mostly in poetry because it claims to be neither fiction nor non-fiction, because it acknowledges the gap between what really was or is, and what is said about it. Is the woman really in a box? It depends on who you ask, how they see it, or what constitutes a box. I like to claim that all of my poems are "true."

The balcony poems arrived out of an unforeseen life-interruption in Europe, where I was intrigued by the dual inside/outside-ness of balconies, and how poetry exists in a similar place—inside and/or outside people, actions, events. Jenny Holzer said something like, "I love my mind when it is fucking the cracks of events." I think that's where the juiciest poems are.








Moving balcony in Tokyo


Pretty voices they have,
well-packaged in airport speakers:





Hakoirimusume: 2 literally, daughter-in-a-box; upon birth, said female is squarely protected by her parents by means of a figurative and ornamentally beautiful box, to be untied on the date of delivery to her first and only husband. Otherwise, if such daughter were to get a job, the box would accompany her to the workplace each day. In this case, her box is a speaker—and we envision a small Japanese woman inside, repeating with her lovely lovely voice.

2 The term "hakoirimusume" has been deleted from the final draft of this poem.




On the balcony missing a friend
        (with Beethoven string quartet #16, Opus 135, III: E. Cantante Tranquillo)

1. Take away glass from Empire State
2. Take away glass from windshield
            ( Rainex™ remains)
3. Take away glass from underfoot
            (S & G song remains, mumbling the soles of her shoes)
4. Take away related words like shattering, crack, reflection
             ("little piece" remains)
5. Take away glass door
             (no possible re-entry stamp)
6. Take the poem away from sight
             (remember to reach out and touch some)

Neatly, I write "phone number" on a Post-it™ note and attach it to the above list. In fact, I remain hanging by a cat, a line, a piece of road stretching San Francisco, San Diego.



Night looks down on me
(with speed)

while I write poems about the wrong balcony, try to store them in the wrong parts of my body quaking, trying to fend off the mint that you are not brewing for me inside as of course you wouldn't or couldn't, being in the wrong side and all moon ignored is better than acknowledged now, mid-sentence, while I withdraw my fingers full of no point! no point! but my nails don't hold anyone up at all and now look what I've written.

No wonder the night.




Balconic poetics
Writing up a balcony

           (while restoring the Paris opera house)

At the hard-
         where the endless search :

• an instance, please.
• an arrow, shot by Hejinianian cupid words on p.654
   and if so,
• a few arrow-packed ceilings which give (multiple or two or a)way, which permit nouning which permit naming.
• a formation:  if not rows,
  if not column
if no more than 36,000 ksi,
nor neither side of 12 pt. Garamond,

                    but a
final yet resting place on paper:
(purchased mistakenly at Home Depot at 4255 Genesee Ave, San
Diego CA, 92117, or any number of)
• this store closed tomorrow morning at

Thus having been listed, one commences to witness balcony, here made mostly American by reference to a hard-store, here made language aware by grace of Hej-cupids, here made balcony by non-closing ingredients upon which one may choose to live the American hang-out, a while, an arm, a cigarette or (!)

Balconinc poetics (cont'd)

and so it appears
(blank) (blank) that this verb or which,
hovering delicate around
bottom thread,
would cause it
(blank) (blank) the
most dangerous of
steps ever taken
backwards or in facing
huge varieties of light,
competing as if a contestant in the
Annual Vegas Table Lamp Expo,
perhaps as night (blank) the
problem—they're all lit at once:



Having been married

on the balcony without reception on the balcony without shade on the balcony a step up the balcony a step out the balcony the balcony of old the timeless balcony the ceremonial balcony the flowers tossed from the balcony the glasses dropped from the balcony the equal opportunity balcony the brawl beneath the balcony the eyes on the balcony the grass stains near the balcony the balconic balcony the balconian balcony the balconesque balcony the poeticized balcony the fully committed balcony weathering this storm then that or the well-lit balcony the balcony in sun, sun the balcony balcony because there are two of us the same balcony but why not the luxury of two words on the balcony two suns on the balcony two children thinking ahead on the balcony right now the late afternoon sun on the balcony is enough right now I don't even have oh I can't get there via the balcony the place as the balcony takes me to the way to the balcony the way to your balcony the way to our balcony from your balcony via my balcony throwing unsmoked cigarettes from our balcony fertilizing plants from our balcony getting used to saying our our balcony our our our balcony in case one gets lost in case I get pregnant on our balcony on the the balcony in case the balcony is male, the, in case the balcony is female, the, in case it is both the balcony, that which is ours, that which we live with that we eat on that we sing from that I write of that you think of when you can't find me because I am at another balcony at an older balcony at a past balcony at a foreign balcony finally at a dark balcony which often is the case, as was the case with our first balcony on the 10th floor of Tioga Hall at Muir College at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, California in September of 1993, the balcony from where we watched the orange lights light the campus in that horrid orange way as only orange light can, that balcony where we waited out my first dryer cycle and the balcony where we waited no we didn't wait my second dryer cycle because I put my coins in the wrong machine but in all good faith the balcony of that night is sometimes like any other balcony because it was my first loved balcony and it will be the best remembered balcony and hence the beginning or end of this balcony and why not or why, as much as one might live in or on a balcony, it's just as well, or


BIO: Sawako Nakayasu was born in Japan and raised in the US. She studied Literature/Writing and Music Composition at UC San Diego, then taught for three years at the Grauer School in Encinitas, CA. Her interests in text, music, and modern dance have led to several performance art works, including Tending the Keep—a full-length show concerning marriage and hockey. Her poetry has appeared in Chain, Key Satch(el), Tinfish, and Interlope.

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