Earth

puddle

Earth

Tremor and
stone

beset upon the calm.

Now water
lines the road’s

bed, and we see
no means to pass.

Even so
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


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The Three Disappointments of Pedro Arturo

The Three Disappointments of Pedro Arturo

The difficulty lies in denying the rest,
pretending the denouement remains unknotted
like that length of rope looped over the branch,
unable to serve its purpose. I regret nothing,
but wish that perhaps I had dangled my feet
in the stream more often and felt the trout
wriggle by in their fluency of motion. Last year
my daughter claimed that as a half-mortal
what pulsed through her heart was not blood
but ichor, the life-force of gods, and when I
stated that her mother was from Muleshoe and
not Olympus, and that I may have been the
product of divine intervention, but was neither
god nor blessed creature, she spat wine in my
face, laughed, grabbed my keys and chugged off
in the cherry-red Karmann Ghia I’d dubbed
La Gloria Roja. I’ve not seen that car again, but
I swear I’ve heard its custom klaxon ah-woo-gah
in strange small towns between train stops
and the lonely fields stretching out into the
blackness like memories losing traction. But
mostly I find myself in this house of books
and empty bottles, maintaining space and time,
herding shadows into their oblong boxes,
contemplating nooses and love, courage and
mortality, and the inability to step up, to swallow
what I most crave and do what must be done.

* * *

“The Three Disappointments of Pedro Arturo” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, and was published in Main Street Rag in October 2017. I was fortunate to have two sponsors for the poem – Clyde Long, who provided three words (denouement, ichor and claxon) and Paul Vaughan, who offered the title. One never knows what will come of these sponsored pieces…

Dobie’s Desk

Dobie’s Desk

Sitting at this desk, I wonder
whose words will emerge

from the stained wood,
its whorls and cracked surface

detailing a specific language
of the inert and precious.

Earlier I rapped the cistern
to verify water level,

and a week ago startled
a cottonmouth sunning its lengthy

self at the crossing. The door
just blew open, perhaps,

or a ghost wished to offer its
voice, neither malice

nor approval imbedded
in the gesture. History

shadows me despite my best
efforts. I walk, drink water,

write, think of friends left
behind or gone ahead,

reading between the grains
and dark spaces, looking for rain

in the blue, for light and benediction
and the secret poetry of furniture.

Bandera

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Bandera

I offer nothing in return, and in offering, receive.
My mouth is a river

whose current bears no words,
but the silence is not of my making.

Notice the streets and their grey
hunger, the rain and the sun

passing by much
as one passes an unopened door.

That question, unvoiced.
That shiver preceding the icy touch.

You may deny my motives.
You may deny my existence and

the very notion of shape unto form.
I offer nothing, and in offering, receive.

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“Bandera” first appeared here in May 2015, and was subsequently published in The Basil O’Flaherty in November 2016.

Life among the Prickly Pear

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Life among the Prickly Pear

Rain’s twofold curse: not enough
too much. Still, I take comfort

even among the thorns.
There is much to like here.

Its moonlight flowers.
Paddles fried with minced garlic.

Wren’s jubilant shriek.
The fruit’s red nectar.

I wake to distant screech owls
purring their desires on separate

slopes. Late spring, storms looming.
I close my eyes and the creek rises.

* * *

A draft of this first appeared here in June 2015, and I posted this version in May 2016. It seemed appropriate to this stormy weekend. On a personal note, I’ll need to inspect a flood-prone creek on Monday. I wonder how it will be…

In the meantime, two of my guitar heroes:

Recording of “In Praise of Rain”

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In Praise of Rain

Which is not to say lightning or hail.
Sometimes I forget to open the umbrella

until my glasses remind me: Wake up, you’re
wet! If scarcity breeds

value, what is a thunderhead worth
in July? A light shower in August?

Even spreadsheets can’t tell us.

***

“In Praise of Rain” has appeared here several times, but this is the recording’s debut.

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Recording of “Life among the Prickly Pear”

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* * *

A draft of this first appeared here in June 2015, with the finished piece following in May 2016. It rained yesterday, and I thought I’d record this with the sound of falling rain in the background.

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