Self-Portrait with Umeboshi

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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.

 

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Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine

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Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine (after Hokusai)

Who knows where bird
begins and tree

ends,

which branch shifts
snow, which bears

eternity. This, too, will share

joy,
elusive green

and breath,
with no thought

of flight

and night’s
fall.

* * *

“Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine” is included in my forthcoming chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, which is available for pre-publication order until August 11.

The poem first appeared in Panoply in summer, 2016, and was subsequently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Many thanks to editors Ryn Holmes, Jeff Santosuosso and Andrea Walker for this honor, my first such nomination.

See the woodblock print that sparked this poem: Hokusai

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Recording of “The Resonance of No”

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“The Resonance of No,” was published in December 2016 in Gravel, and is included in my forthcoming chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for prepublication order at Finishing Line Press.

Music Credit: Cool Vibes Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Recording of Bottom, Falling

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“Bottom, Falling” was published in Into the Void in October, 2016, and appears in my forthcoming chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for prepublication order at Finishing Line Press.

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Recording of My Poem “Mayflies”

“Mayflies” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. FLP is taking prepublication orders here. It was also the inspiration for the artwork gracing the cover. I am in debt to Stephanie L. Harper for providing such a vivid and appropriate piece of art for the book.

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 before August 11. Thank you!

Review: Robert Okaji’s “From Every Moment A Second”.

The first review!

Dr. Daniel Schnee

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FROM EVERY MOMENT A SECOND
Robert Okaji
Finishing Line Press
2017

★★★★★

From Every Moment A Second, the latest chapbook by American poet Robert Okaji, is yet another meticulously crafted collection of observations, private austerities and hesitancies spelt out in verse. A small collection of twenty poems, each feels “warm”, like a cozy winter Sunday on your living room couch – to paraphrase Junichiro Tanizaki – lost in contemplation of flavours to come.

What makes it a five star collection is each poem is clear in its vision, each unambiguously a part of the greater gist of the book. Each line shows where lesser works ‘tell’, and thus this collection feels like a series of tiny one act plays. Part of this is how each line and stanza feels like it has been put exactly in its proper place, that any further edits would remove a character or…

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FIVE CREATIVE USES FOR MY BOOK, FROM EVERY MOMENT A SECOND

More than just poetry!

So you don’t read poetry? No worries. This book is a multi-tasker’s dream. Buy it and let your practical nature take over. No reading necessary!

1) Scorpion swatter – let the aggressive, pain-inducing arachnid know the full weight of poetry! SLAM! No more second moments for you, scorpion!

2) Coaster – a half-dozen copies of the book will keep you out of the doghouse, if you, like certain unnamed poets, occasionally, and without malice, set sweating pint glasses of frothy ale directly on antique cherry end-tables. Just place a copy of From Every Moment a Second on all tabletops and flat surfaces around the home, and never worry about marring the furniture. Put your beverage glass directly upon the colorful cover, and let the poetry perform its magic. Who knew that paper was so absorbent!

3) Body armor – well, maybe not. The pen is mightier than the sword, and all that, but Kevlar is a better bet when it comes to bullets. So scratch that idea, unless you’d like to print up Kevlar dust jackets. Hmm. Not a bad idea. Nyah, nyah! Your bullets can’t pierce my verse! Just saying…

4) Hot pad – need something on which to place a gurgling pot of “OMG This Stuff Burns, Really, Really Burns” chili? A short stack of From Every Moment a Second will do the trick. I recommend at least three copies to achieve maximum efficiency. For larger pots, six copies, in stacks of three, are considered the norm, but you may, for personal reasons, use more.

5) Furniture and appliance leveler – are you tired of your fried eggs running downhill and forming lazy crescent moons instead of perfectly centered suns? Simply stick a copy of From Every Moment a Second under the offending corner of the stove. Presto. Sunny side up? No problem. And this is a portable solution! How many times have you been to a trendy, hipster coffee shop and found your table, the only unoccupied one, of course, wobbling, and in danger of spilling precious drops of that costly triple-mocha-vodka latte? Carry copies of the book with you, and shove one (or more) under the responsible table leg. Done!

 

To order this scorpion-swatting, moisture-absorbing, heat-deflecting and furniture-leveling book, visit Finishing Line Press. And hey, you might even look at some of the words. It’s okay. Really.

Undecided? Read a review here. Alas, no mention of the five uses described above…