Jane Joritz-Nakagawa



Five Poems

The Boatman

Ordinary dread

News report

How i feel about you

Woman with scarf and bundle


The boatman


Evenings we talked in the makeshift
   bent down
rolled between your fingers, thinning spot on his
head.   now and then.

always cleaning; sawdust in the boat,

went up in flames. 
  never did learn to swim
to live on water, only a garage covered in sawdust


you build another boat, can you now swim?   

( the names of boats, i know hull, i know deck.... )

A face at will, living in that half-built blackened boat,  waving as
the boat fills with water
from the shore, smiling,

Looking in my direction?   telephone someone, or walk away as if none of this had

stuck in a boat unable to swim lying
a burnt out vessel waves rushing toward



Ordinary dread


Supple moment.  atop.  without
special feeling.

shortening the sky 
not quite quiet

woke up working on
a perfectly blank expression tho

eyes feel his crawling
skin crawls

on its own for the first time must
be the untamed shrew can't

lift up is murmured
mistook me for can't

bear animal eyes
exposed and ripe something

will pluck off
face of the earth

frowns at us its
wrinkled nose a moment of clarity

high window waiting career
(because i wanted to write

and you came and entered
my house awake

breaking down the door 
always am but shy

now that we've got you at arm's length
to meet the shy

 criminal who startled the family now awake
as the daughter began to write

 in her diary that you enter
but she keeps locked away the door

 all doors to her house
restless fountain

today the day before the day after could not
earthquake in which you are steeped



News report


The mind's open moment
Sealed with landmines

Have another country
Before I leave

A way out of the misery
As money drips

Where is your kayak?
Where is the end

I promised you



How i feel about you   


black and white color you
impression of me external
time to scratch eternal

big meander often
does it:

blue face hoisted
the chair arms wave
like airplanes hiding

almost too easy
for example

downward spiral
where fuselage falls off
nothing falls



Woman with scarf and bundle


some hovering mold circling
making you worn appearance of it
other days dirt grabbed onto out of habit a deck
today's thud or hearty lump worn
high in the throat with a scarf or bandage behind
you a bandit you slowly lift
your blue-veined elasticized leg up the slick
stone step the radiant load on
your back which you keep shifting left
and right


Bio: Jane teaches English, human rights, and educational psychology at a national university in Japan. Other poems have been included in New American Writing, ACM, Aught, Moria, Milk, Free Verse, Shampoo, and numerous other literary magazines abroad and locally. Her first book length collection, as yet unpublished, was recently a finalist in three recent competitions: University  of GA Contemporary Poetry Series, Cleveland State University and Four Way Books. She is originally from Chicago, Illinois.

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