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

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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Poem Up at Fourth and Sycamore

My poem, “The Trees are Burning at Midnight,” is live at Fourth and Sycamore, the literary journal of the Greenville Public Library, located in Greenville, Ohio. This piece was originally drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge. Many thanks to Charlotte Hamrick for sponsoring the poem and offering the title.

Earth

puddle

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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Nocturne with Flame

Closeup of campfire.

Nocturne with Flame

Not imposition, but welcome.

Another’s stirred embers, banked
and forming the kindling’s base.

Thus the licked paper curling with smoke,
stars shooting into the blackness,
and finally, exploding light
transformed to heat.

From one’s loss, another’s gain.

The flickering on my cheek.
Inhaled bitterness and memory.
The wait, the period before.

Like the owl in the live oak,
or the mice under our floor
returning, I celebrate the cycle,
and grow warm.

mouse

“Nocturne with Flame” appeared in The Galway Review in December 2016.

River Carry Me

 

River Carry Me

I approach the window with closed eyes.

In this case, the between dissolves.

Without form and weight, still you linger.

A ticketless morning unfolds.

The water flows in braids, through stone and air.

Before my limits enact pity, before falling fruit.

Images condensed throughout the night.

An inheritance of trees curving towards the horizon.

One exactly as another’s, only different.

* * *

“River Carry Me” first appeared in Underfoot in October 2017.

Recording of “Yellow, Lost”

Yellow, Lost

The forgotten poem, existing in title only: Yellow.

Which is a bruise at three weeks, or memory’s shade in autumn.

In what black folder does it hide? In which blinding light?

I take comfort in primaries, lose sleep at the edges.

Where fraying begins and annotation dwindles to scrawled lines.

Above the bones and flesh of the Egyptian gods. Above my books.

Within these lost minutes. Those moons, bereaved. The hours.

Desire germinates even after our rainless decades. Yellow, again.

The color of sulfur (the devil’s realm) or the traitor’s door.

Of cowardice and warning. Of aging and decay.

How to recover what’s sifted away, the residue of our loves?

Each day more bits break off, never to be reattached.

But you, I blend with the sky, perfecting trees, the grass.

* * *

“Yellow, Lost” was published in wildness, Issue no. 10, in October 2017. wildness is an imprint of Platypus Press, which published my work Interval’s Night, a mini-digital chapbook, in December 2016 in their 2412 series. If you’re not familiar with wildness, check it out. In fall 2016 Poets & Writers named it in their article Nine New Lit Mags You Need to Read.