no feature enhanced
but beauty of
the whole and

its container the
tree is not
deprived and grows

as it must
though slowly like
a wave which

gathers itself for
years there is
no completion only

process a lapse
which presumes the
most delicate design


Originally published in Aileron in 1988, “Bonsai” appeared on the blog in December 2014.


34 thoughts on “Bonsai

  1. Now that’s going back. It’s fascinating to see how your stylistics have changed over the years, Bob. As I read it, I was thinking, this is so different from ‘typical’ Okaji stuff I’ve read–and then I see it’s from (or at least was published in) 1988. That explains a lot about the unaccustomed mechanics I see/hear going on here. It’s also nice to deviate from the normal (whatever that is) or expected as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The concerns have remained the same, but the presentation has changed a bit. I stole the form (five stanzas consisting of three-lines containing three words) from my friend Prentiss Moore, whose poems were utterly (and delightfully) different from mine – we assumed different stances within the same structure. He was a much more mature poet, and I flailed a lot back then.


  2. Pingback: Bonsai β€” O at the Edges | WilliWash

  3. Korean bonsai are remarkable, i’ve seen them looking as if growing out of rock.
    i actually think you’ve developed a more rendered grip on pauses than in these old poems. The jarring for me doesn’t match the subject, or maybe i am missing something & you could perhaps explain that to help me understand. Your poems as i’ve told you before are exceptionally well structured around a pattern of breath, which i can follow organically, but i, how can i put it? i don’t really know how to read these, if that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It makes perfect sense. These are the poems of a young poet who hadn’t yet found his way. The creative impulses come from the same place, but the execution of the pieces, the writing and rhythms, especially when read aloud, differ greatly. Now, when I read them, they sound like the product of someone who attended the William Shatner/Captain Kirk School of Elocution. 😬

      Liked by 1 person

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