Calm

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Calm (after H.D.)

I flow over the ground,
healing its hidden scar–
the scar is black,
the bedrock risen,
not one stone is misplaced.

I relieve the ground’s
burden with white froth,
I fill and comply—
I have thrown a pebble
into the night,
it returns to me,
settles and rises,
a white dove.

 

* * *

“Calm” is included in my micro-chapbook Only This, which is available via free download from Origami Poems Project. It made its first appearance here on the blog in March 2015, and was written as an exercise, using a poem, “Storm,” by H.D. as the launching point. I’ve tried to emulate her diction and rhythm, with mixed success. Still, it’s fun to try these on occasion.

 

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Flood Gauge in the Morning

 

 

Flood Gauge in the Morning

It reclines on its side, submerged.
So far, so good, it seems
to say. Still here, still intact.
And the bridge looks so clean
from this angle
underwater.

I toss
a fist-size stone
onto the upstream
side of the road,
and watch it wash away.
Maybe we’ll cross tomorrow.

 

 

“Flood Gauge in the Morning” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for order via Amazon.com and Finishing Line Press.

 

 

Flame

 

Flame 

Drifting, she passes through the frame.

Reshapes borders, edges.

The way smoke scribes a letter in the sky with
gases and particulates. Intractable. Impermanent.

But not like a risen corpse
yet to accept its body’s stilling, or
the flooded creek’s waters taking
a house and the family within. Some things

are explainable. This morning you drained
the sink, and thunder set off a neighbor’s alarm.

From every moment, a second emerges.

Picture a man lighting a candle where a home once stood.

 

* * *

“Flame” was published in Poppy Road Review in February 2019 and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for order via Amazon.com and Finishing Line Press.

Window Open, Closed

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Window Open, Closed

We enter daylight in the shape
of praise, little words

billowing through wire mesh. Across
the highway a busboy questions time

and the concept of never, while
someone plucks leaves from the bay

tree and plans her day. Roger Bacon
longed to manipulate the inner essence

of inanimate objects, to harness their force,
and a lonely man swallows prescription drugs

deliberately, releasing their attributes over time.
My eyes redden from juniper pollen as the moon

spins invisibly above our roofs, tugging at the
clouds. I once traced in a building of music

the organ’s sound to the woman I longed
to attract. Now, the window prevents the passage

of solids, but waves penetrate. I spread my fingers
across the glass, but feel no vibrations. Distant

sirens announce a procession of cause and intent,
of carelessness and indecision. Somewhere a voice rises.

 

* * *

This originally appeared during Bonnie McClellan’s 2015 International Poetry Month celebration, and is included in The Circumference of Other, my offering in the Silver Birch Press chapbook collection, IDES, available on Amazon. A recording of the poem may be found on Bonnie’s site.

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Self-Portrait with Blue

Blue

 

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, IDESpublished in October 2015.

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The Mathematics of Dying

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The Mathematics of Dying

Always the sense of negation, of winnowing those bits you once were.

The male grackle struts and displays his tail feathers.

Everything slanting towards null, even the treetops.

The female’s smaller body lacks blue overtones.

A misread signal, the unheeded warning, ignored pain.

Counting beaks, adding wings, subtracting heartbeats.

The image I possess magnifies with age, observing protocol.

An annoyance or plague, their song grows harsher with time.

Your eleven shadows still point to the noontime sun.

* * *

“The Mathematics of Dying” is included in my mini-digital-chapbook, Interval’s Nightpublished in December 2016 and made available via free download by Platypus Press in their 2412 series.

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Firewood

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Firewood

For two years the oak
loomed, leafless.
We had aged
together, but somehow
I survived the drought
and ice storms, the
regret and wilt,
the explosions within,
and it did not.

I do not know
the rituals of trees,
how they mourn
a passing, or if
the sighs I hear
betray only my own
frailties, but even
as I fuel the saw and
tighten the chain,
I look carefully
for new growth.

 

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“Firewood” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second.

 

Year’s End

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Year’s End

If I lose myself in breathing,
will the air forgive my forgetfulness?

This oak, too, will stand long after
the last train exits the tunnel.

I worry that my friend may never
clamber past his lowest ambition.

Different and unabated, our words
now stumble over themselves.

Every night forms a morning somewhere:
each year, combined in our shared darkness.

 

* * *

“Year’s End” is included in my micro-chapbook Only This, available via free download from Origami Poems Project. Many thanks to editor Jan Keough for taking the mini-chap and offering this opportunity to so many.

night

Earth

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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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On The Burden of Flowering

 

On the Burden of Flowering

Even the cactus wren
surrenders itself
to the task,

though it rarely listens
to my voice. How do clouds
blossom day to day

and leave so little
behind? The bookless shelf
begs to be filled, but instead

I watch the morning age
as the sun arcs higher.
Yesterday you said

the mint marigold
was dying. Today it
stands tall. Yellowing.

 

“On the Burden of Flowering” first appeared in Panoply in August 2016, and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second.