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.

After Reading That Dogs Relieve Themselves in Alignment with the Earth’s Magnetic Field, I Observe and Take Notes

  

 

After Reading That Dogs Relieve Themselves in Alignment with the Earth’s Magnetic Field, I Observe and Take Notes

Perhaps Ozymandias is an anomaly. He shows no
preference for the north-south axis while pooping,
and may hedge his bets slightly to the east when
urinating, especially at twilight. Clara the miniature
Schnauzer, ever Germanic in her manner, preferred
true north, always, while blind, deaf, humpbacked
Maury pointed his rear right leg forward, to the south.
Jackboy the cattledog was an omnidirectional reliever,
as is the Chihuahua, Apollonia, although she twists and
snaps at blinking fireflies in mid-squat, never connecting
with the dancing, lighted beetles. I do not recall the
bulldog’s habits, but Scotch trended towards the untidy
in all else, and expended as little energy as possible,
often leaning against the house while peeing on it. I
cannot say which direction my next scientific inquiry
will take, but I will, as always, follow the dogs’ lead.

 

 

This poem last appeared here in December 2017, and was written during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge. Many thanks to Susan Nefzger for sponsoring the poem. She is NOT to blame for the title or the contents of the poem…

 

 

Waiting for the Shakuhachi, I Practice with What I Have

 

Waiting for the Shakuhachi, I Practice with What I Have

The tone feels round on shorter bottles,
which more closely resemble my shape.
Longnecks pitch lower, while the emptied
pinot requires more controlled air flow.
My grooved fingers fumble in their
search for meaning. I know this silence,
but that one requires more study.

Cool air stumbles in
through the trees.
Ah, autumn’s return.

 

This first appeared on The Zen SpaceThank you, Marie Marshall, for publishing my work!

 

Scarecrow Takes a Holiday

 

Scarecrow Takes a Holiday

Having neither organs nor neural impulses,
I no longer ask why or how I hear and smell,
taste and see, feel. This morning I woke
to magpie song and onion breeze, in
a body not mine, yet mine, at peace
on Jeju Island, far from my crows, yet
still among friends singing the same
language. I know this: home lives
within, and no matter where we travel,
it rides with us. Like the man who
spoke to me, bald, bearded, a pale
foreigner in this land, comfortable
here, at home. He listened for my reply,
but unfortunately I’d not been given
a mouth, and my words dropped to the
ground and were rolled away by
beetles before he noticed them.
Perhaps I should have written a note,
but he wished to gamble and how
could I refuse? I am hollow, but not
empty, whole, yet not complete,
away but here. He took a coin
from his pocket, flipped it. I saw…

 

A response to Daniel Paul Marshall’s “Scarecrow Travels (after Robert Okaji)”

This first appeared in May 2017.

Happy New Year

I’m delighted that my poem “Other” was the most popular piece on Bold + Italic in 2018! Thank you, Lisa, Kat and Jayant for publishing it.

Bold + Italic

To begin with, allow us to wish all of you — our friends, friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends — a very happy new year, with a hope that it all begins the best way possible and continues thus.

This new year, we’re reading new and old writers alike while working on our Issue 03, which is partially based on the theme of ‘infants.’ We began with Vladimir Nabokov while sorting out the submissions, are reading Miriam Darlington and are moving forward to Sylvia Plath later this month.

This blog post, here, is meant specifically to celebrate three pieces of the many that we published. Those three pieces that were the most read in our very first year, which are —

  1. Other, by Robert Okaji — Poetry, 220 Views
  2. Black, by Divya Devarajan — Poetry, 184 Views
  3. The Man Who Stopped…

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Ghazal to the Night

 

Ghazal to the Night

The sun carries this river to the night.
Balmless flesh, lies. A letter to the night.

What folly, your mineral dream of power.
I inhale your bones, oh smoky altar to the night.

A stump is neither owl nor island, lifeboat
nor storm. This resin, a gift of myrhh to the night.

My email disappeared to emerge a year later.
Why? Remember what we were to the night.

Hey, winged smile, describe yourself in colors!
Empty your veins and pockets, donor to the night.

This cup, that glass. The song of empty bottles.
Casting off, Bob hands his anchor to the night.

 

* * *

“Ghazal to the Night” first appeared in Eclectica in July 2018. I am extremely grateful to editor Jen Finstrom for publishing my poetry over the years.

I enjoy working with this form. It’s a bit challenging, but ultimately rewarding. For a little information on ghazals, you might read this article at poets.org. Superb examples abound in Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English, edited by Agha Shahid Ali. The introduction alone is worth the cover price.

 

 

Ghazal to Bob, in the Night

I’m so flattered that Anna Marie Sewell took the time to do this!

Prairiepomes

It’s a new year, but I haven’t changed. I cannot resist responding to awesome poetry. I do hope Mr. Okaji will forgive me taking his name in this vein…

Anchors aweigh, we settle lower in the water
every year we are blessed to yet bob in the night.

Pockets emptied, we cast vestments to slaughter
turn off laundry room light, let them bob in the night.

Emails disappearing, this century’s unvouched for alibi
electronic dog runs away, to chew, bark, bob in the night.

Neither owl nor island, fresh thoughts loom in memory’s murk
half-drowned in self-reflection, they bob in the night.

Your bones, oh smoky altar, are consumed like breath
like breath, their essence left to float, and bob in the night.

This river, carried by the sun, carries a boat carved with runes
these are Anna’s words, waterline eyes that bob in the night.

Ghazal to the Night

by 

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3 Poems Up at Nthanda Review

 

My poems “Gruyere,” “Mushrooms I Have Known” and “Chipotle” are up at Nthanda Review, an online literary magazine out of Mawali. This marks the first publication for each, although they’ve all appeared on the blog before. I’m grateful to the editors for taking these pieces.