Late Night (after Li Po)

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The moon smiles upon my bed.
I consider frost and ice,
and raising my head, the bright sky.
Lying back, I think of home.

 

Once again, I’ve attempted to shiver myself into a timeless piece. I can only hope that my version does not offend.

 

The transliteration from Chinese-Poetry.com follows:

Bed before bright moon shine
Think be ground on frost
Raise head view bright moon
Lower head think home

 

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This originally appeared here in March 2014.

Mirror

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Mirror

The attraction is not
unexpected. We see

what is placed
before us, not

what may be.
The mirror is empty

until approached.

 

* * *

One of six short poems included in my micro-chapbook, You Break What Falls. Available for free download here: http://www.origamipoems.com/poets/236-robert-okaji

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“Mirror” first appeared here in May 2015.

Requiem

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Requiem

That it begins.
And like a wave which appears
only to lose itself

in dispersal, rising whole again
yet incomplete in all but
form, it returns.

Music. The true magic.

Each day the sun passes over the river,
bringing warmth to it. Such

devotion inspires movement: a cello in the
darkness, the passage of sparrows. Sighs.

The currents are of our own
making. If we listen do we also

hear? These bodies. These silent voices.

* * *

“Requiem” was written in the 80s, in response to a piece of music. It made its most recent appearance here just a few years ago.

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Hummingbird (3)

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Hummingbird (3)

Arriving from nowhere,
its mouth opens

but what escapes
comes not from within

and is never complete.
Words, too, falter

in this space,
struggling to remain

aloft, challenged yet free,
an exchange

between air and wing,
of sound and thought,

occurring as it must
without design

or desire, simply
there, then gone,

a presence one notices
in its absence.

 

* * *

“Hummingbird (3) made its first appearance  on the blog in December 2014.

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Forever

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Forever

Our dogs hide under the bed,
escaping thunder.

But the sun shatters
a cloud and I know

we will live forever.
Each hour is the sky,

every day, another
star. Now the trees

join the wind
in rejoicing. This

is what we make,
they say. Only this.

 

* * *

“Forever” made its last appearance here in April 2018.

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Hummingbird (2)

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Hummingbird (2)

It embraces what the mind cannot.
To touch, to be
acquired in the way that light

is drawn to the seed’s
core, one must imagine
silence in the purity of

space – that emptiness between
thought and utterance – filled
with what precedes

intent. The movement
has no end; it is

the breath inhaling us all.

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To the Lovely Green Beetles Who Carried My Notes into the Afternoon

 

To the Lovely Green Beetles Who Carried My Notes into the Afternoon

Such beauty should not be bound,
thus I tied loose knots,

knowing you would slip free
and shed my words

as they were meant,
across browned lawns,

just over the cedar fence
or at the curb’s edge,

never to be assembled,
and better for it.

 

* * *

This appeared in riverSedge Volume 29, Issue 1, released in October 2016, and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second. I first encountered riverSedge in 1983, and vowed that one day my poetry would be published in this journal. It took a while…

A History of Particles: Ash, Wood, Shrimp

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A History of Particles: Ash, Wood, Shrimp

Unsettled and predisposed
to flight, they
rise. Or, awaiting the process, receive
the glow as prelude to transformation, a

nocturnal exegesis inscribed in flame
and black swirls. Death in the air,
settling upon us. The bitterest
taste. But how to explain

the tongue’s sweet tremor? And the narrow
margins between the transition

from wood to smoke?
At 250 degrees
their pale shells redden,

become vessels of radiant
heat and its attenuated function,
moisture retained so as

to delay and heighten the
delectable flesh, once freed, become
virtue, become fate

sliding down the throat,
the course of deterioration hastened
and endured in perpetuity.

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This first appeared on the blog in June 2015.

Scarecrow Listens

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Scarecrow Listens

These silences I hear, are they not
music? Interspersed with sunlight and
air flowing through fragrant grasses,
insects ticking in the leaves or burrowing
towards moist darkness, and my friends
cawing from their perches, if I arrange
their presence in sequence, perhaps
around the day’s bones, will you
know my spirit? And when I interweave
these tunes, independent and unrelated,
shaping them into one separate melody,
will you recognize its heart and shiver
to the beat? Ornette Coleman freed
his playing, celebrating the territories
of the unmeasurable, the unnamed. The
real is, no matter what you call it. Take
this leaf and place it atop three others.
What have you? And what am I if not
a gathering of the unwanted, scraps
melded to serve a thought-free purpose,
another’s need. Fleshless, boneless,
breathless, bloodless, I know only
that I am; having no ears, still I listen.

 
“Scarecrow Listens” first appeared with two companion pieces in Eclectica in summer 2016.