Uccello

Originally published in 1987 in a short-lived publication called The Balcones Review, this is the opening of a longer work. Today, as I look out my window at that same tree, I hear the birds, no longer silent.

file000687759623(1)Uccello

the wind is what
the stillness
desires to say
each instant
collapsing into itself
like a bud
returning
to the seed

listen
the birds in my tree
are silent
as echoes
before their brief
lives are
silent

something thrashes
in the leaves
the feather
spiraling
slowly
is not only what
it is

as the candle
is more
than flame
or a moment

curling
to darkness

the question
is of clarity

I built a frame
but placed
nothing in it

the wind
blows through
quietly as if
between silences
there exists
only silence or

light
the familiar embrace

unfolding

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What Feet Know

feet

What Feet Know

The earth and its subterfuge.
Gravity and the points between here and there.

And sometimes the rasp of grainy mud
clenched between toes,
or a rock under the arch,
an explanation too pointed
for display on a page,
too hard, too much for flesh to bear.

No constellations foment underground.
Nothing there orbits a companion.

No light but for that darkness the heel scrapes away.

“What Feet Know” was featured on Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine in December 2016, and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available from Finishing Line Press and Amazon.com.

While Trespassing I Note the Sadness of Old Fences

 

While Trespassing I Note the Sadness of Old Fences

I write poems when I can,
in late morning or during

the afternoon, between chores
but before dinner. And sometimes

I duck through spaces
void of wire barbs, and consider

how to fill the incomplete, which words,
what materials could repair

those particular holes. I cut my own
fence once, to access our house

when the creek flooded the road,
lugging uphill through the snake

grass a jug of scotch, my mandolin
and a watermelon, essentials for a weekend’s

respite. To be truthful I cut only the lowest
strand, to help the dog get through — I

was able to climb over, but he couldn’t dig
through the limestone rubble to wriggle

under, and we’d come too far
to simply turn around.

* * *

This appeared in riverSedge, Volume 29, Issue 1, released in October 2016. I first encountered riverSedge in 1983, and vowed that one day my poetry would be published in this journal. It took a while…

 

Scarecrow Remembers

 

 

Scarecrow Remembers

I recall nothing before my eyes captured
the horizon and the looped whorl of night’s
afterglow, the first crow-plumes
crossing from left to right, awakened to
everything but my history and what
preceded the morning. By midday
I had mastered the secret language of
corvids and learned to interpret the wind’s
folly. When the sun eased below the hills,
I divined the angle of declination and tilted
my head to true north, thinking this is my
calling, to point the way.
But how few
of us bottle our life’s cause to sip as
needed. Later my dark friends whispered
the truth, and we laughed among the
rustling stalks as I pointed the way
not to the Alhambra or even Wichita,
but to the choicest kernels. Placed here
for one purpose, another claimed me.
I am the future without past, the present
decaying, tomorrow’s joke, impermanent
and shadowed. I am anomaly, risen.

 

* * *

“Scarecrow Remembers” was first published at The High Window in December 2016.

Robert Okaji: Scarecrow Calls Out the Man

A companion piece to this morning’s poem.

Vox Populi

These things I cannot name: that finger of night

between fear and peace, in which darkness both cloaks

and hugs the wide-eyed. A snake, in the open. And that space

behind the watcher? Perhaps it is easier to call it something

else – a gasp, or the immeasurable measure. A presidential

folly. My friends, ever cautious, swoop in and away, taking

with them only those grains they need, unlike you. What use

is a hoarded larder if it rots? How does one come to want

everything and nothing at the same time? A gilded house

spotlights wealth, not right. Is this edifice your legacy,

your monument to self? The heart monitor’s blip paints one

forever, your pursed lips, another. But even the concrete

you cringe behind lacks permanency; regard your hands

and all they can’t stuff into your pockets. Loosen that

coiled tie lest it choke you. Accept what the…

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Palinode (soubasse)

corn

 

Palinode (soubasse)

In the land of two-dollar mornings, those things
we barely sense take precedence: uncaressed
skin sheathed in ivy, the punctuation mark diverting
power. Insidious corn, the cries of distressed trees
(cavitation in the xylem), soubasse, the ghost note,
prickling from below. Singularity. The appointee’s
hubris. The defining weight of a zero’s center.

A zero’s center defines emptiness, meaning nothing,
or, diverted light, a vacuum. Regard plenum: an air-filled
space, or a complete gathering of a legislative body. And
how did we arrive here from there? From the body we
compose units of measure: an ell, digit, fathom, the mile’s
thousand paces. I expose film to light, concealing yet
establishing a rational point.

Concealing the point implies position without extension,
a moment shedding its cracked sheath and giving rise
to the divine: above, below, male and female, hot or
cold. Reconciliation. A plateau. The still place linking the
infinite to the open hand, limitless black. Burning, I
calculate oxidation and dispersal, tendrils, a flaxen leaf,
its proposition to endings.

 

This first appeared, in slightly different form, in ditch, in January 2014, and was posted here in September 2016..

 

hubris