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.

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.

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

3 Books, 3 Poets

 

 

I’m thrilled and honored that Charlotte Hamrick thinks so highly of my book.

Zouxzoux

The last three books of poetry I’ve read couldn’t be more different. Two of them, “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur and “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith, came to my attention on Twitter. Did you know there’s a vibrant poetry community on Twitter? Actually, there’s a vibrant writing community there. I’ve found some fantastic books, poetry, flash fiction, short stories, nonfiction, etc., there and, these days, it’s the only reason I’m still hanging in. The only reason.

Anyway, I digress. The third book, “From Every Moment a Second” by Robert Okaji, came to my attention from Robert himself. I read his poetry blog almost every day and consider his poetry among the best you’ll read anywhere.

If you need a good book for a gift or if you want to treat yourself I recommend all three.

“Milk and Honey”, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, is an extraordinary book. It’s…

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Poem Featured at The Clearing

 

My poem “Prescribed” is one of three featured at The Clearing, a British online magazine focusing on landscape. I’m thrilled to have a piece  included. Thanks to editor Michael Malay for taking this one.

Silently

This! Anna Marie Sewell discusses faith and strength and getting on with the hard things.

prairiepomes

The joy of the Lord is my strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

So there’s Nehemiah, ringside at the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Or is that him at the Rumble in the Jungle, as the ‘Ali, Bomaye!’ chant starts up? Is that him swaggering behind Bruce Lee? What is the appearance of this strength? What is the joy of the Lord?

I didn’t see my Mom as a joyful person. She was definitely not the one to be happy-clappy, singing out the ‘joy of the Lord,’ that is for sure. She was often grim and weary, actually, burdened by many responsibilities, beset by challenges, bowed down by grief and betrayal; her strength lay in her firm resolve.

There was a day when I accompanied her to our new home, 19.8 acres, fenced, with a yard site and barns. It would become the family home base. On that day, though, it was not yet…

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A Brief History of Babel

image

 

A Brief History of Babel


Borders, windows.
Sound.

Trudging up the steps, I am winded after six flights,
my words smothered in the breathing.

The Gate of God proffers no favors.
When the spirit gives me utterance, what shall I say?

Curiously, no direct link exists between Babel and babble.

A collective aphasia could explain the disruption. One’s
inability to mouth the proper word, another’s
fluency impeded by context.

A stairway terminating in clouds.

Syllable by twisted syllable, dispersed.

Separated in symbols.
And then,
writing.

To see the sunrise from behind a tree, you must face
east: higashi, or, a discrete way of seeing
the structure of language unfold.
Two characters, layered. One
thought. Direction.
Connotation. The sun’s
ascent viewed through branches
as through the frame
of a glassless
window.

Complexity in simplicity.
Or the opposite.

I have no desire to touch heaven, but my tongues reach where they will.

Who can know what we say to God, but God?

And the breeze winding through, carrying fragments.

 

* * *

 

My poem, “A Brief History of Babel,” was drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and was subsequently published at Bonnie McClellan’s International Poetry Month celebration in February 2017.