Author copies of my chapbook From Every Moment a Second have arrived! These came directly from the printer, and according to Finishing Line Press the rest of the print run should soon be in their hands, and will be packed and shipped to buyers asap. So if you’ve ordered one, it really is on the way. Finally. Thank you for your patience!
From Left to Right I Ponder Politics and Poetry
In the evening I pour wine to celebrate
another day’s survival. My motions:
up to down, left to right. Glass
from cabinet, wine to mouth.
And then I return to the page.
The character for stone, ishi,
portrays a slope with a stone
at its base, and I take comfort
in knowing that as my knee aches
at the thought of climbing, ishi exists
in descent only. A volcano belches,
producing hi, fire, rising above the
cone, while earth, tsuchi, lies firm
beneath the shoots pushing up,
outward, and ame, rain,
consists of clouds and dotted
lines and the sky above. But if
wind is made of insects and
plums, do I assemble new meaning
without fact or wisdom, form
or assumed inflection, left to
down, up to right? Consider water,
its currents, its logic and needs.
Consider truth. This is how I think.
* * *
“From Left to Right I Ponder Politics and Poetry” appeared in Bonnie McClellan’s International Poetry Month celebration in February 2017.
How may I claim another’s earth for myself? My perpetual
stance invites occlusion of the senses and a certain disregard
for dignity; I flap in the breeze and bits of me scatter across
the fields. Sze asks if we know a bird’s name in ten
languages do we know any more about the bird. I say no,
but I am a species of stitched remnants and expectation,
a race of one. Genderless, my hollow name holds no secrets,
no history. If I called myself Hudson would anyone recognize
my stuffing for what it is not? What flows through my clothing
but rags, straw, the useless and unwanted. Insects and their feces.
The unearned, the unwarranted. The underclass. Folly. Design.
Gift by delusion. Does attracting more crows than I deter negate
my existence? And which am I? A river? A man? An effigy, one
perception, or another? I do not frighten, but welcome. Speak
louder, that we may ignore our insignificance, our true names.
“Scarecrow Pretends” was published in The Slag Review in January 2017, and a few months later was mentioned in an article in the Long River Review’s blog: “Scarecrow Pretends: Robert Okaji’s Metallurgy.”
I’m thrilled to have six poems up at Underfoot Poetry. Many thanks to Tim Miller for adding me to his line up. A note on the formatting: your screen may adjust the lines, especially on the first four poems, which consist of a phrase per line. To get the intended effect, you could widen the screen setting. But you might prefer the interesting enjambment offered by your default setting.
In this powerful four-minute clip on the Poetry Foundation site, Ocean Vuong reads and discusses his poem “Toy Boat,” in memory of Tamir Rice.
I Have Answers
But the questions remain.
A little pepper, some salt,
butter. Our rosemary needs pruning
and the music’s too loud
to hear. The lizard basks in sunlight
eight minutes old, but I forget to ask
what else we need. Or want. Just this,
she says. Red, like your favorite sky,
the in-between, the misplaced one.
“I Have Answers” is included in From Every Moment a Second, which will be published by Finishing Line Press this fall. The publisher has informed me that the publication date has been pushed back five weeks, which suggests a mid-November release.
Self-Portrait with Umeboshi
Our resemblance strengthens each day.
Reddened by sun and shiso,
seasoned with salt,
we preside, finding
comfort in failure. Or does
the subjugation of one’s flavor for another’s
define defeat? The bitter, the sour, the sweet
attract and repel
like lovers separated by distances
too subtle to see.
Filling space becomes the end.
What do you learn when you look through the glass?
Knowing my fate, I say fallen. I say earth.
Ah, simplicity! When I was a child my mother would occasionally serve rice balls in which a single mouth-puckering umeboshi rested at the center. These have long been a favorite, but I admit that umeboshi might be an acquired taste. Commonly called “pickled plums,” ume aren’t really plums but are more closely related to apricots. I cherish them.
“Self-Portrait with Umeboshi” first appeared in the Silver Birch Press Self-Portrait Series (August 2014), was included in the subsequent print anthology, Self-Portrait Poetry Collection, and also appears in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.
Music: “Senbazuru” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License