The Sky Refutes East and West

nest

The Sky Refutes East and West
 

Here, the horizon lingers.
The open eye, the mouth’s shape.

A hoop, the circle without iris.

Does the screech owl acknowledge latitude and hemisphere?

The Semitic alphabet contained no vowels, thus O
emerged as a consonant with a pupil, morphing into a dotted ring,

and later, with the Greeks, an unembellished circle (which of course

they cracked open and placed at the end). The female lays eggs

on the remnants of earlier meals lining the bottom of her den.
If you listen at night you might hear the purring of a feathered

cat (the Texas screech owl’s call varies from that of its eastern cousins).

The difference between sphere and ball.

To pronounce the Phoenician word for eye, sing the lowest note possible,
then drop two octaves. They usually carry prey back to their nests.

Screech owls are limited to the Americas.

Coincidence and error, the circumference of other.

***

“The Sky Refutes East and West” was first published in Prime Number Magazine, and also appears in my chapbook The Circumference of Other, included in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks (Silver Birch Press, 2015). It made its first appearance here in May 2016.

eastwest

 

Self-Portrait with Shadow

image

Self-Portrait with Shadow

Sometimes light reveals our thoughts.
Separate and unequal, we blend.

The predominant sibilant in English,
its pronunciation varies.

Sciaphobia is the fear of shadows. Last
winter the wellhead froze and we

chain-sawed our way to warmth,
synchronized in the fading light.

And which decides the other’s fate?
In the flame I detect new life, a hissing

in the cast iron box. Though ranked only 8th
in frequency of use, more words in English

begin with S, leaving additional questions.
Is hiss the opposite of shh?

The umbra is the darkest part
of the shadow, where light is completely

blocked. Not the serpent, but the bow
and a misperception. Shadows grow

in proportion to the distance
between the object blocking the light

and the projection surface. Resembling
infinity, yet missing the link. Two facets

of one darkness. A faint suggestion. Amphiscians
cast shadows in two directions. Or not at all.

This appeared on the blog in April 2015, and another version appeared in Otoliths in fall of 2013, but it appears that I’m not quite done with it. I’d been exploring our alphabet, tracing letters’ origins from hieroglyphs to present form, and attempting to merge some of those findings with disparate details. One of these days I’ll get back to it…

A Q&A and more successful examples of what I was trying to achieve can be found at Prime Number Magazine:

image

The Sky Refutes East and West

nest

The Sky Refutes East and West
 

Here, the horizon lingers.
The open eye, the mouth’s shape.

A hoop, the circle without iris.

Does the screech owl acknowledge latitude and hemisphere?

The Semitic alphabet contained no vowels, thus O
emerged as a consonant with a pupil, morphing into a dotted ring,

and later, with the Greeks, an unembellished circle (which of course

they cracked open and placed at the end). The female lays eggs

on the remnants of earlier meals lining the bottom of her den.
If you listen at night you might hear the purring of a feathered

cat (the Texas screech owl’s call varies from that of its eastern cousins).

The difference between sphere and ball.

To pronounce the Phoenician word for eye, sing the lowest note possible,
then drop two octaves. They usually carry prey back to their nests.

Screech owls are limited to the Americas.

Coincidence and error, the circumference of other.

***

“The Sky Refutes East and West” was first published in Prime Number Magazine, and also appears in my chapbook The Circumference of Other, included in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks (Silver Birch Press, 2015).

eastwest

 

Self-Portrait with Shadow

image

Self-Portrait with Shadow

Sometimes light reveals our thoughts.
Separate and unequal, we blend.

The predominant sibilant in English,
its pronunciation varies.

Sciaphobia is the fear of shadows. Last
winter the wellhead froze and we

chain-sawed our way to warmth,
synchronized in the fading light.

And which decides the other’s fate?
In the flame I detect new life, a hissing

in the cast iron box. Though ranked only 8th
in frequency of use, more words in English

begin with S, leaving additional questions.
Is hiss the opposite of shh?

The umbra is the darkest part
of the shadow, where light is completely

blocked. Not the serpent, but the bow
and a misperception. Shadows grow

in proportion to the distance
between the object blocking the light

and the projection surface. Resembling
infinity, yet missing the link. Two facets

of one darkness. A faint suggestion. Amphiscians
cast shadows in two directions. Or not at all.

Another version of this appeared in Otoliths in fall of 2013, but it appears that I’m not quite done with it. I’d been exploring our alphabet, tracing letters’ origins from hieroglyphs to present form, and attempting to merge some of those findings with disparate details. One of these days I’ll get back to it…

More successful examples of what I was trying to achieve can be found at Prime Number Magazine: http://www.primenumbermagazine.com/Issue41_Poetry_RobertOkagi.html

image

DRAFT: Ode to A

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I’m attending a Tupelo Press Writing Conference this weekend, and thought it would be fun to share the piece I’ve written in response to an assignment. Participants will be exploring Pablo Neruda’s work, and have been charged with producing an ode in the style of Neruda.

Ode to A

I praise your curves
and angles, your
history,
the lift and heft,
those borrowed traces
sprouting from
an ox head
in fetid Egypt,
the dung trails
alive with beetles
rolling their wares
across rutted paths,
under the hooves
of the blind
mouthless cow in
Sinai, morphing
to the early
Phoenician aleph,
its horns
lowered sideways
in a pasture
far from the docks,
as if asking
what next,
where to,
and not in anger
or fear
or sheer bullness,
but with purpose,
like a harrowed field
or cool drink
at the end
of a hot afternoon.

And centuries
later, the horns
lifted again,
but only halfway,
as if in greeting
the man with the
goods-laden cart,
saying welcome,
traveler,
welcome to my
humble home,
please share
my bread
and soft cheese,
these grapes,
this wine, too.

But how alone
my tongue feels
in singing your name,
never touching lip
or roof of mouth,
worshipping
the apex of your rich
furrow, forever
plowing forward,
yet failing,
fallow at every turn.

And I have
not yet mentioned
your lower
case,
kneeling and
well rounded,
a bud, a tender
shoot bridging
two stones
in a dry
plot: oh, to be
that tongue
and palate,
those lips
surrounding you,
to be your
consonant
in a field of vowels.

Hungarian cattle, Lajosmizse, Hungary