Every Drop

 

 

Every Drop

Your light singes my roots
even deep underground, where
worms revel in your joy

and all the days’ secrets line up
awaiting their turn to kneel and
unwrap their daily truths in the
comfort of the chambered soil.

If I were a seed, I would wait
for your touch before sprouting,
and only then would I surge

to the surface, swallowing
your gift. Greedy but grateful,
I’d open, drink every drop.

Letter to Harper from Halfway to the Horizon

Letter to Harper from Halfway to the Horizon

Dear Stephanie: No one connects here, and no matter
how resolutely we trudge forward, ignoring spinal fusions
and attacking hearts, the line skips lightly ahead, mocking us,
I think, in that way only the ineffable may claim. Looking
out, I see a lone wren, clouds filtering the stars, and strands
of barbed wire looped like question marks around cedar
stumps, punctuating the day’s greeting. No answers there,
only more inquiries blanching under the sun. But this
is my febrile landscape, not your lush green headed by
gray. Nothing matters, or, everything’s imperative.
In this gnarled season I can’t tell which, although
the vulture ripping into a squirrel carcass on my
suburban front lawn tells me something ain’t quite
right. Full or empty, the glass is still a glass, despite
my propensity for seeking more, whether cava or beer
or yes, enlightenment. I fear this reveals too much
about me, and wonder if I should draw the shade or
keep tugging it higher, admitting more light. Have you
ever noticed that half often amounts to less the closer
you get to it, each portion diminishing, divided by two,
and again, until only a thin shadow vaguely resembling
the original shape remains? Perhaps this is how we’re
meant to exit as failures on this field. The horizon’s
still there, red stroking green, clouds feathering in,
and maybe if we keep walking we’ll reach it in a sunburst
of doves and glittering red dahlias. Yeah, right. In the
meantime, let’s multiply our losses and sculpt another
morning truer than its source, stronger than its media. Our
optimism has already blown this joint. What else have we
got to lose? I remain, as ever, yours in insolence, Bob.

Originally penned in January 2017, “Letter to Harper from Halfway to the Horizon” was published in MockingHeart Review in May 2018. I’m reading with MockingHeart founder and editor-in-chief Clare L. Martin, along with Bessie Senette, at 7:00 this evening, October 20, at Malvern Books in Austin. Come on by, if you’re able!

Robert Okaji (Chapbook Confessions #3)

Wherein I confess…

Underfoot Poetry

Chapbook Confessions is a series in which poets discuss, at length, the writing of their most recent collection of poems, in whatever way they desire. For more information on the series, go here.

Below, Robert Okaji writes on his 2017 collection From Every Moment a Second.


 Chapbook Confession, or, How to Write Chapbooks without Knowing How

81JPWewW4yLI confess that I’ve never intentionally written a chapbook, that I’m too scatter-brained to plan one. Instead, I write individual poems, and after a suitable stack has accumulated, attempt to force them to comingle, however reluctantly, hoping to form a semi-cohesive collection for someone’s reading pleasure (or dismay, as the case may be). This is not to say that the occasional series of poems never escapes my subconscious, but I never deliberately set out to write a certain number of poems with the intention of publishing them as a discrete entity…

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This Island is a Stone

 

This Island Is a Stone

Raking the sand, I leave only the infinite
trickling behind; our first bed bore your

parents’ memories. This one grows weeds. The
heavenly bamboo (a shrub and not a grass)

issues white petals and inedible red fruit. My
fingertip callouses have softened from disuse;

coyotes no longer answer my yips and howls.
Who replies to liars anyway? A snail’s love

dart impales the object of its affection, but
often inconveniently. This is not a metaphor

for bad sex, but a means of transferring an
allohormone. Today the overburdened creeks

erode their banks and 492 seconds after
departing the sun a ray greets my lawn. I snap

the towel at the fly on the door, but miss
again. The once sacred now lies open and

emptied; a few months ago my father could not
remember my birthdate although he recognized

the season. Some totals may never satisfy.
If I collect my life’s accumulated wastings, will

that sum temper me or merely accentuate the
fool? Nothing is as it seems. We mark our

remaining days with unread books. These
waves are plotted creases, this island is a stone.

“This Island Is a Stone” was published in MockingHeart Review in September 2017. I am grateful to editor Clare L. Martin for publishing this piece. As luck has it, I’m reading with Clare and Bessie Senette on Saturday, October 20, at 7:00 p.m. at Malvern Books in Austin.

Something Lost, Something Trivial

broom

Something Lost, Something Trivial

Another word, another bewildered
moment in transition: the phrase
barely emerges from your mouth
before crumbling back into a half-opened
drawer in the loneliest room of a house
that died seventeen years ago.

I nod as if in understanding, and stoop
to pick up a crushed drinking straw,
the kind with the accordion elbow
that facilitates adjustment.

From a rooftop across the street,
a mockingbird warbles his
early morning medley of unrelated
songs, and you say left oblique,
followed by matches, then
collapse on a bench,
winded. I sit next to you

and we both enjoy the warmth
and birdsong, though I know
this only through the uplifted
corner of your mouth, which
these days is how you indicate
either deep pleasure or

fear. I have to leave soon,
I say, and you grab my wrist
and stare into my eyes.
Broom, you reply. And more
emphatically, Broom!

Though I cannot follow you
directly, knowing both path
and destination, I pick my way
carefully through the years
stacked high like cardboard
banker’s boxes stuffed with
papers and receipts no one
will ever see. I know, I say.
I love you, too. Broom.

* * *

“Something Lost, Something Trivial” was published in January 2016 in the first issue of MockingHeart Review. Many thanks to editor Clare L. Martin, for her multiple kindnesses. I am reading with Clare and Bessie Senette on Saturday, October 20, at 7:00 p.m. at Malvern Books in Austin.

Scarecrow Joins the Circle Dance

Beautiful images. Beautiful writing. Kerfe Roig honors Scarecrow, and knocks it out of the park once again!

method two madness

corw dance dark s

Autumn. I fall into disrepair.  The sky still covers me, but my shadow dissolves into the remains of the golden ocean that heretofore eddied and flowed at my feet.  My skin lies ragged, unfilled.

I was crowned, once, with dark discordant ornaments. They sit on other thrones now, unrepentant pretenders, still calling the sun, the wind–the land itself–to task.

A crow flies over
a graveyard—blackness on stone–
change hangs in the air

crow dance close up s

When I saw Frank Tassone’s Haikai Challenge about scarecrows, I was intrigued.  I can’t think of Scarecrow without  thinking of Robert Okaji’s wise sage.  So whatever I did would be colored by what Robert has written.  I also decided to use the words from Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, synonyms for ghost and hollow, as many of them seemed to fit on Scarecrow too.

crow dance bright s

As to Crow–he’s always around here somewhere.

Once again, different light makes the metallic paint…

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