With Summer Purpled Awe

Nawlins

With Summer Purpled Awe

1

No one wants to be forgotten
or remembered for the wrong reasons,
but how do we attain that sweet spot
between regrettable and a barred
door clanking shut? I was born in
Louisiana. What happened next
is that song living at the edge of
memory, just beyond grasp, its
lyrics gnarled and tangled in the
roots of an old cypress along a
muddy creek. Yeah, that one. I
won’t sing it in this lifetime.
That tune’s never coming back.

2

You stretch out your hands
and a reflection cuts you in half.

3

I should have grabbed you and the dog,
and headed to Texas. They’ve got hills
there that the tide won’t reach, and
trees that won’t die from salt
poisoning, whose branches
won’t be festooned with children’s
clothing and bits of people’s torn
lives, and the stench won’t linger
longer than regret and the effect
of poor choice and dumb luck.

4

There, then gone. I scream
until my voice rasps away
but you are still out there,
still floating, still afraid
and angry and beautiful, hair
forming a halo around your
face, no tears, no sound
but water lapping, and
the flies zeroing in.

5

Next time there will be no party.
I’ll wait alone to greet the rain.
The wind will scour me
as I embrace what comes.

* * *

“With Summer Purpled Awe” was drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. Many thanks to Charlotte Hamrick who sponsored and provided the title.

Galveston, 1900

file901235706072

Galveston, 1900

First the wind, then a tide like no other
uprooting the calm,

a visage tilted back in descent
as if listening for the aftermath.

And later, the gardener’s lament
and the building’s exposed ribs,

light entering the eternal
orchard, nine children tied to a cincture.

Not even the earth could retain its bodies,
and the sea remanded those given to its care.

file0001863093325

“Galveston, 1900” first appeared here in January 2015.

With Summer Purpled Awe

Nawlins

With Summer Purpled Awe

1

No one wants to be forgotten
or remembered for the wrong reasons,
but how do we attain that sweet spot
between regrettable and a barred
door clanking shut? I was born in
Louisiana. What happened next
is that song living at the edge of
memory, just beyond grasp, its
lyrics gnarled and tangled in the
roots of an old cypress along a
muddy creek. Yeah, that one. I
won’t sing it in this lifetime.
That tune’s never coming back.

2

You stretch out your hands
and a reflection cuts you in half.

3

I should have grabbed you and the dog,
and headed to Texas. They’ve got hills
there that the tide won’t reach, and
trees that won’t die from salt
poisoning, whose branches
won’t be festooned with children’s
clothing and bits of people’s torn
lives, and the stench won’t linger
longer than regret and the effect
of poor choice and dumb luck.

4

There, then gone. I scream
until my voice rasps away
but you are still out there,
still floating, still afraid
and angry and beautiful, hair
forming a halo around your
face, no tears, no sound
but water lapping, and
the flies zeroing in.

5

Next time there will be no party.
I’ll wait alone to greet the rain.
The wind will scour me
as I embrace what comes.

 

“With Summer Purpled Awe” was my 28th offering for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project last August. Many thanks to Charlotte Hamrick who sponsored and provided the title.

I’ll be reading with other Tupelo Press 30-30 alums tomorrow evening, Friday, April 15, at Malvern Books in Austin.

 

Day Twenty-nine, Tupelo Press 30/30 Project

tracks

“Hunger is Hunger” is among the Day Twenty-nine offerings of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project (9 poets have agreed to write 30 poems apiece in 30 days, to raise funds for Tupelo Press, a non-profit literary publisher). Many thanks to the 1874: First Impressionist Exhibition blog who sponsored and provided the title.

Hunger is Hunger

Somewhere we jumped the tracks,
he said, wiping himself clean with my

blouse. But this life’s all you got…

To see the rest of the poem, click here

Even though no more title sponsorships remain, please feel free to contribute to Tupelo Press! Every bit helps (even a dollar or two), and I’ve some other sponsorship opportunities, with corresponding incentives, listed here.

If you’re so inclined, please visit the 30/30 blog at: Donate to Tupelo. Scroll down to “Is this donation in honor of a 30/30 poet?” and select my name, “Robert Okaji,” from the pull down so that Tupelo knows to credit the donation to me. And please let me know so that I may send a thank you and incentive gift your way.

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “Pinecone on a Pedestal, Open Poet,” thanks to the kindness and generosity of Ken G. / rivrvlogr.

Thank you for your support! Only one more day to go!

Day Twenty-eight, Tupelo Press 30/30 Project

Nawlins

Tupelo Press still has a few openings for September’s 30-30 challenge. Leave a comment or email me for contact info. It’s well worth doing.

“With Summer Purpled Awe” is among the Day Twenty-eight offerings of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project (9 poets have agreed to write 30 poems apiece in 30 days, to raise funds for Tupelo Press, a non-profit literary publisher). Many thanks to Charlotte Hamrick who sponsored and provided the title.

With Summer Purpled Awe

1
No one wants to be forgotten
or remembered for the wrong reasons,
but how do we attain that sweet spot
between regrettable and a barred…

To see the rest of the poem, click here

Even though no more title sponsorships remain, please feel free to contribute to Tupelo Press! Every bit helps (even a dollar or two), and I’ve some other sponsorship opportunities, with corresponding incentives, listed here.

If you’re so inclined, please visit the 30/30 blog at: Donate to Tupelo. Scroll down to “Is this donation in honor of a 30/30 poet?” and select my name, “Robert Okaji,” from the pull down so that Tupelo knows to credit the donation to me. And please let me know so that I may send a thank you and incentive gift your way.

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “Hunger is Hunger,” thanks to the kindness and generosity of the 1874: First Impressionist Exhibition blog.

Thank you for your support! Only 2 poems to go!

Galveston, 1900

file901235706072

Galveston, 1900

First the wind, then a tide like no other
uprooting the calm,

a visage tilted back in descent
as if listening for the aftermath.

And later, the gardener’s lament
and the building’s exposed ribs,

light entering the eternal
orchard, nine children tied to a cincture.

Not even the earth could retain its bodies,
and the sea remanded those given to its care.

file0001863093325