About robert okaji

At one time I was a sailor. I once owned a bookstore. I live in Texas with my wife, two dogs, and a few books.

Poem Up at The High Window

My poem “Five” is included in the summer edition of The High Window. Many thanks to editor David Cooke for taking this piece. The issue is spectacular – I’m delighted to have a poem appear in it.

RO

Ro

When this note fades
will it join you in that place
above the sky
or below the waves
of the earth’s plump
body? Or will it
circle back, returning to
my lips and this
hollow day
to aspire again?

Note: Ro designates the fingering required to produce a particular note on the shakuhachi, the traditional Japanese bamboo flute. In this case, closing all holes.

Elegy

This elegy/ode is a must read for all you coffee drinkers!

Meditatio Ephemera

coffee1

Always you, until this morning.

You on the day breaking fair,
the enormous earth singing up
the sun through the soft, small
mouths of a hundred finches.

You on the day dawning foul,
my mind already choked by
ashen apparitions of all that
should not have happened.

Always you.

The throaty sound of your work commencing,
coaxing my ears from fitful sleep,
the water warming and pulsing
through the rich black grounds
that call me to begin, again.

All my life, only you knew how
to make the bitter sweet.

Oh, your fragrant breath,
your dark embrace of the awakening tongue!
Oh, your unflagging confidence,
contagious to my being:
Only drink, and this day
you can rise.

Always you.

You on the days the lover left,
and returned, and left.
You on the days the kittens played;
you on the days
the old cats died.

Always you, through
the births…

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Recording of “Shadow Charm”

Shadow Charm

When you place your mouth
to my ear

how does the ocean know
which wave

to relinquish?
In your darkness I find teeth.

Blessings of the meek-throated.

A ribbed tunnel. Codicil.

Your tongue scrawls: too late,
the unsaid     nerve-sparked and

dilated     too late

And my skin replies: with
lightning     all strikes

count     to each its charge

“Shadow Charm” was published in August 2017 in The Icarus Anthology.

Creek Haibun

Creek Haibun

The creek’s waters flow so quickly that I make little headway in my attempt to cross. A water moccasin slips by, and my left boot takes on water. This is not real, I say. We’ve had no rain and I would not be so foolish as to do this. Asleep? Perhaps, but I’ve passed the halfway point and have no choice but to move forward. I slip and nearly pitch headfirst into the dark current. Lightning stitches the sky.

dreaming, the snake

swims against floodwaters

oh, what have I lost?

Steps

Steps

Up or down, it’s all the same.

How the knee or hip strains under the planet’s
surge. Opposite, and unequally felt.

One knows pain, the other does not.

Forever spinning, we remain still,
moving in place. Wanting.

As the heart pumps,
stronger for its labor,
accustomed to the effort.