My latest micro-chapbook, Only This, is available via free download from Origami Poems Project. Many thanks to editor Jan Keough for taking this!
Find folding hints here.
beset upon the calm.
lines the road’s
bed, and we see
no means to pass.
you break what falls.
* * *
This first appeared in Ijagun Poetry Journal in December 2013, and is also included in my micro-chapbook, You Break What Falls, available (free of charge) for download from the Origami Poems Project: http://www.origamipoems.com/poets/236-robert-okaji
Every hour becomes another.
Surrendering minutes, accepting
gain, which gravities restrain us?
Strong coffee, books. A smile.
Such imponderables – the measured
digit, starlife, an unmarked sheet of
paper fluttering to the floor.
Sometimes the lights go out
and we wonder when they’ll return,
not if. Or the laborer misinterprets
a statement and stains the carpet.
There but for the grace…
Anything can happen, and frequently does,
but we open the door and step out, unhindered.
One Day I’ll Market Your Death
Do not mistake this phrase for one contiguous with threat.
Even its flower knows the theory of attractive quality.
An ideal medium for cochineal production, the prickly pear
shelters a host of creatures we seldom caress.
Which displays greater motility, the cactus or the cochineal?
Life-cycle of attributes, packaging, excitement, the unknown.
In the Aztec language, the word meant prickly pear blood.
The insects’ bodies and eggs yield carminic acid, which mixed with
aluminum or calcium salts yields the red dye.
Reaching for substance is neither metaphor nor effect. Sessile
parasite: carmine. The product of Dactylopius coccus
became the second most valued resource in Mexico, behind silver.
Opportunism unveiling itself, revealed, or, layered greed.
What appears to be fungus is wealth.
One-dimensional / attractive / indifferent. We look together
through the window and observe our separate selves.
This poem originally appeared in a slightly different form in Otoliths, and was included in my chapbook length work, The Circumference of Other, published in IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, by Silver Birch Press.
Self-Portrait with Blue
Darker shades contain black or grey. I claim
the median and the shortened spectrum, near dawn’s terminus.
In many languages, one word describes both blue and green.
Homer had no word for it.
The color of moonlight and bruises, of melancholy and unmet
expectation, it cools and calms, and slows the heart.
Woad. Indigo. Azurite. Lapis lazuli. Dyes. Minerals. Words. Alchemy.
On this clear day I stretch my body on the pond’s surface and submerge.
Not quite of earth, blue protects the dead against evil in the afterlife,
and offers the living solace through flatted notes and blurred 7ths.
Blue eyes contain no blue pigment.
In China, it is associated with torment. In Turkey, with mourning.
Between despair and clarity, reflection and detachment,
admit the leaves and sky, the ocean, the earth.
Water captures the red, but reflects and scatters blue.
Look to me and absorb, and absorbing, perceive.
This originally appeared in the Silver Birch Press Self-Portrait Series, and is included in The Circumference of Other, my offering in the Silver Birch Press chapbook collection, IDES, published in October 2015.
“Mayflies” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. FLP is taking prepublication orders here.
Please note: prepublication sales determine the print run, which means this stage is crucial in terms of how many copies will be printed and the number of copies I’ll receive as payment. So if you feel inclined to help, and are able, please purchase your copy during this period. Thank you!
From Every Moment a Second
The prepublication sales period for my new chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, begins today, June 13, and runs through August 11. The book’s tentative release date is October 6. Please note: prepublication sales determine the print run, which means this stage is crucial in terms of how many copies will be printed and the number of copies I’ll receive as payment. So if you feel inclined to help, and are able, please purchase your copy during this period. Order here.
Many thanks to the members of this blog community for supporting my writing. I sit alone in my shack to write, but you are there with me, just a keyboard away. I am truly grateful for your wisdom and humor and willingness to help me traverse the strange and wonderful worlds of poetry and publication.