Palinode (translation, passway, glass)


Palinode (translation, passway, glass)


What falters in translation? The dove’s silhouette resides
on the window three months after the sudden refusal. I
observe wingprints, the skull’s curve, a history of assumptions
angled in the moment of impact. And after, residue. Light’s
incident rests. One body whispers another’s shape and the
next rumbles through the narrowing passway. Traitorous,
I call it fact. I name it truth, and naming it, reverse the coat.


I name it truth, but considered denial, root of the renegade’s
term. I have a bird to whistle and I have a bird to sing. Misperception
in flight. Betrayal’s gate, unhinged. What comes next? Sunlight
slants through the window each morning, and departs, bending
in reversal. Stones all in my pass. Dark roads. Another naming,
another transition. Trials waged in the grammar of refraction.
The deflected word.


The deflected word reciprocates and the sky opens, outlining
its missing form. I have pains in my heart, they have taken my
Derived from wind, from eye, from hole. Once through,
what then? Mention archetype, and my world dims. Mention
windows, and I see processions and enemies lined along the way.
Boys, please don’t block my road. We select certain paths, others
choose us. Wingprints on glass.

Notes: italicized selections are from Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway.”

This piece first appeared, in slightly different form, in ditch, in January 2014.


34 thoughts on “Palinode (translation, passway, glass)

  1. What I like best about your poetry is that it makes me pause long enough to truly consider each part of each piece. Like a work of art in a gallery that I can’t just walk past, but must sit on the marble bench in front of it and experience it, work to identify it’s meaning for me.
    You make me stretch as a reader, and I like to think, grow, certainly aspire to grow, as a poet. Thank you Señor Okaji.

    Liked by 8 people

    • You have paid me the highest compliment, Michael: the marble bench. We write these things and never know if anyone will see them, much less read and work through them. I’m so pleased to have produced something worth stopping for.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Our mourning doves often fly into our windows, other birds too. Sometimes they lie stunned. Occasionally the imprint of their wings remains frozen on the glass, a reverse photo. “Wingprints on glass”, indeed: I like this poem very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Palinode (translation, passway, glass) — O at the Edges – randomwordbyruth…Out of the Closet…In a few words

    • I wrote about a dozen of these over a four or five month period. I enjoyed the process, but don’t think I’ll return to this particular form. They are indeed dense, and I’ve headed in a slightly different direction with language.


  4. The first stanza is flawless. I mean absolutely pristine. I live the past about ‘a history of assumptions’.

    I like the whole concept of finding some relatively inconsewuential thing dead, and giving it depth and weight, making its demise a mysterious incident that has some universal elements.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A very large grin here for the Robert Johnson. I’ve had a few poems slide into my brain in unusual forms lately and this one inspires me to run with them. I always like your writing advice, too; it’s very very simple if you renounce the fear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! That’s just the way my mind works – I was staring at the bird’s imprint on the window, when the Robert Johnson tune popped into my head. Who am I to deny Robert Johnson? So I went with it. And with regards to writing, I don’t know how else to do it. Put words down on paper. Remove some. Replace them. Remove more. Repeat. Sometimes the initial impulse is all that remains in the finished product.

      Liked by 1 person

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