Tuning the Beast


 

Tuning the Beast

I prepare contingencies for all outcomes. No.
I’ve prepared for this: a body. A key. As if

that cloth draped a leg. Not a leg
but the representation of a limb.

Another fragment, brought forth and opened.
Not a limb, an arrow, perhaps, pointing to the sea.

An oar, brought inland and unrecognized
for its purpose, directed or aimless. No, not an oar.

A neck, polished, and a chamber, with strings.
Repetition, fixation. Position. Intent.

I pluck and strum, pick and stroke, maintaining
space, steel above wood, bending notes,

moving sound in time, purposefully, from
this place to that, the left hand, creating,

conversing. The right, reasoning, controlling,
burning its past to the present, allowing,

preventing, rendering beat, consistent
motion, shaping only this moment, this now.

 

 

“Tuning the Beast” was drafted during the August 2015 30-30 Challenge, thanks to Sunshine Jansen’s sponsorship. It subsequently appeared in The Blue Nib in September 2016.

 

 

Self-Portrait with Mandolin

almond

Self-Portrait with Mandolin

Being
the afterthought

of wood and
steel, I accept

the phrases
allowed me.

Limitations
frame our days;

working within,
we grow.

Almond to tree,
sound in time.

Chords
by implication.

I root among
the falling

leaves,
gathering

their tunes.
When I cannot

see, my hands
find the way.

mando

Tuning the Beast


Tuning the Beast

I prepare contingencies for all outcomes. No.
I’ve prepared for this: a body. A key. As if

that cloth draped a leg. Not a leg
but the representation of a limb.

Another fragment, brought forth and opened.
Not a limb, an arrow, perhaps, pointing to the sea.

An oar, brought inland and unrecognized
for its purpose, directed or aimless. No, not an oar.

A neck, polished, and a chamber, with strings.
Repetition, fixation. Position. Intent.

I pluck and strum, pick and stroke, maintaining
space, steel above wood, bending notes,

moving sound in time, purposefully, from
this place to that, the left hand, creating,

conversing. The right, reasoning, controlling,
burning its past to the present, allowing,

preventing, rendering beat, consistent
motion, shaping only this moment, this now.

“Tuning the Beast” was drafted during the August 2015 30-30 Challenge, thanks to Sunshine Jansen’s sponsorship. It subsequently appeared in The Blue Nib in September 2016.

 

 

Self-Portrait with Mandolin

almond

Self-Portrait with Mandolin

Being
the afterthought

of wood and
steel, I accept

the phrases
allowed me.

Limitations
frame our days;

working within,
we grow.

Almond to tree,
sound in time.

Chords
by implication.

I root among
the falling

leaves,
gathering

their tunes.
When I cannot

see, my hands
find the way.

mando

Day Twenty, Tupelo Press 30/30 Project

image

“Tuning the Beast” is among the Day Nineteen 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 Sunshine Jansen, who sponsored and provided the title.

Tuning the Beast

I prepare contingencies for all outcomes. No.
I’ve prepared for this: a body. A key. As if

that cloth draped a leg. Not a leg…

To see the rest of the poem, click here

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “Before We Knew,” thanks to the kindness and generosity of Ursula.

I hope that the sponsored titles and my responses to them have been entertaining, but other sponsorship opportunities abound. For information on these and their corresponding incentives, click here.

“Name That Poem” sponsorships are still available for Sunday and beyond. Conjure up a title (be creative, be weird, be gentle, be poetic, oh, heck, be mean if you wish), donate $10 to Tupelo Press, let me know what the title is, and I’ll write the poem. The  sponsored poems thus far have been a blast to write, and the titles have led me to poems I’d not otherwise have written. 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 as soon as possible what your title is.

Thank you for your support! Only 10 poems to go!