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.

Recording of “The Draft”

 

The Draft

All memories ignite, he says, recalling
the odor of accelerants and charred

friends. Yesterday I walked to the sea
and looking into its deep crush

sensed something unseen washing
out, between tides and a shell-cut foot,

sand and the gull’s drift, or the early names
I assign to faces. This is not sadness.

Somewhere the called numbers meet.

 

* * *

“The Draft” first appeared in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art.

This Oak

  

This Oak

Never rooted in Tibet,
has not watched a whale breach
a November Pacific dusk, or guzzled
bitter beer near Vesuvius. Nor has it
absorbed the warmth of a loved one’s
hip on a frozen morning long after
the embers’ glow has greyed
and the windows blossomed
white. It cannot know the beauty
of disparate instruments playing
in joyous harmony. It will whisper
no incantations, does not smile,
won’t ever feel the anticipation
of a first kiss after a complicated
courtship. The bouquets of Bordeaux
elude it, as do tears or the benefits
of laughter. Why, then, do I envy it so?

 

 

“This Oak” was published in Slippery Elm (print only) published by Findlay University in Findlay, Ohio, in spring 2019. As luck would have it, I, along with four others, am reading at Findlay University tonight, Tuesday, October 15. Who would have thought this backyard Texas poet would be reading in Ohio?

 

Mayflies (with recording)

 

Mayflies

Having no functioning
mouths, adults do not eat,

and live their lives
never knowing

the pleasure of food
and drink, the bitter

bite of dandelion greens
with the crisp notes

of prosecco rolling over
the tongue. Instead,

they engage in aerial
sex, often in swarms

above water, many dipping
to the surface to lay eggs,

some submerging, while
others die unfulfilled,

eaten. Who’s to say
which life burns brighter;

even knowing these facts,
still I dream of flight.

 

“Mayflies” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second. It was also the inspiration for the artwork gracing the cover. I am in debt to Stephanie L. Harper for providing such a vivid and appropriate piece of art for the book. Available at Amazon.Com and Here

 

 

A Further Response from the Hornet’s Nest

 

A Further Response from the Hornet’s Nest

Even the sturdiest door unhinges
at the slenderest idea of your approach,
and I, fascinated with locks and
the mechanisms of biological
pumps, with spiders and the inhabited
self, can’t help but wonder
what I might hear in your heartbeat,
whether forests or a distant surf
would whisper at my resolve, too
late, too late, old man, or simply
laugh at this awkward attempt
to merge and taste the benefits
of your strong limbs and foliage,
your precious resources, your salt.

 

My poem “A Further Response from the Hornet’s Nest,” was published in Issue 11 in January 2019.

 

Self-Portrait with W

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Self Portrait with W

One might claim a double victory, or after the Roman Empire’s fall, a reclamation
from the slurred “b” and its subsequent reduction.

Survival of the rarely heard, of the occipital’s impulse.

The oak’s crook performs a similar function.

Shielding myself from adjuration, I contemplate the second family
root, weighted in weapons, in Woden, in wood.

Not rejection, but acceptance in avoidance.

The Japanese homophone, daburu, bears a negative connotation.

Original language was thought to be based on a natural
relation between objects and things.

Baudelaire’s alphabet existed without “W,” as does the Italian.

The recovery of lost perfection is no longer our aim.

When following another, I often remain silent.
As in two, as in answer, as in reluctance, reticence.

We share halves – one light, one shadowed, but both of water.

Overlapped or barely touching, still we complete.

 

* * *

“Self-Portrait with W” originally appeared in the Silver Birch Press Self-Portrait series in 2014, and was reprinted in my chapbook, The Circumference of Other, included in Ides, a one-volume collection of fifteen chapbooks published by Silver Birch Press and available on Amazon.com.

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Still Life with Silence

 

stump 


Still Life with Silence

Not two, but one,
invisible

and stretched between
stump and fence,

filled with
time, defining

implication. Empty
the pitcher. Accept

its limitations.
Listen to what is not.

 

pitcher

“Still Life with Silence” first appeared here in October 2016.

 

 

Dilated

One of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets!

SLHARPERPOETRY

Dilated

To think that we see them so often    yet so rarely
consider how those piebald songbirds     so at home
on a snow-scape in their portable parkas     are made of
the exact same stuff we use to fill up our electric sky & neon
watermelon nylon winter coats     which must be designed
expressly for us to go out there looking ridiculous
not to mention callous (clothed     as it were     in outright exploitation)—
is the thing I’m pondering as I observe through the window
a little house finch     all feathery & poofed with his flushed cheeks
flitting over the snowy patio     pecking among the abandoned
bench-feet for invisible     if not entirely non-existent morsels
& hawking an air of self-possession that is obvious even to me
in my current     incapacitated state 

As for whether the red-crowned retina specialist
who conducted my examination was young &/or fetching
the prospect was murky (his brisk…

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