Uccello

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Uccello

the wind is what
the stillness
desires to say
each instant
collapsing into itself
like a bud
returning
to the seed

listen
the birds in my tree
are silent
as echoes
before their brief
lives are
silent

something thrashes
in the leaves
the feather
spiraling
slowly
is not only what
it is

as the candle
is more
than flame
or a moment

curling
to darkness

the question
is of clarity

I built a frame
but placed
nothing in it

the wind
blows through
quietly as if
between silences
there exists
only silence or

light
the familiar embrace

unfolding

 

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Originally published in 1987 in a short-lived publication called The Balcones Review, this is the opening of a longer work. When I last looked out my window at that same tree, I heard the birds, no longer silent.

 

The Underbelly of This Seam

 

The Underbelly of This Seam

Slides beneath your gaze, unnoticed,
but the joining satisfies that particular

urge, combining two separates
into one whole, creating this new

piece. I thumb the string on every fourth
beat, anchor the cloth, pull it taut, and stitch.

What better material than air and silence?
Yesterday’s tune, tomorrow’s silk?

A fine breath zigzagged down the edge – frayed
lines, beneath, on the other side, testifying

to the struggles of the unseen. I exhale,
strike another note. You hum something new.

 

* * *

“The Underbelly of This Seam” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. Many thanks to Ursula, who sponsored the poem and provided the title.

A Step Closer

 

A Step Closer

The difference in here
and there, a step closer to infinity
swallowing the clover and wild onion.

Not knowing, you shift purpose to intent.

Following the sun,
the flower sips light all day,
pausing only when I walk between.

 

 

“A Step Closer” was published in Sleet Magazine in August 2018. I am grateful to editor Susan Solomon for taking this piece.

 

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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Which is an Eye or a Bowl, a Dream

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Which is an Eye or a Bowl, a Dream

Or well-placed mirror in a sunburnt room, shivering through shifted
images: that hand, blackened and stout, opened like a dark peony;
the tattooed chin; shovel and torch; hook and owl. You say no one
chooses one fist over another, that bread’s rise completes its cycle
and begins anew, pressed flat and rounded. Take this heart and seal
its chambers. Note the anterior descent. Compression, lesion. Plaque.
Consequence. And your friend, who slept, never to awaken. Lying
in that strange bed, you taste salt, acknowledge change, whisper
to no one: audible house…audible tree, knowing that time’s limit
remains unclear. The air swirls and you accept this new light.

 

Note: “Audible house…audible tree” is from Jane Hirshfield’s “Not Moving Even One Step,” from The Lives of the Heart.

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While Walking My Dog’s Ghost

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While Walking My Dog’s Ghost

I spot a baby rabbit
lying still in a clump of grass
no wider than my hand.

It quivers, but I pretend
not to have seen, for fear
that the dog, ghost or not,

will frighten and chase it
into the brush, beyond
its mother’s range,

perhaps to become lost
and thirsty, malnourished,
filthy, desperate, much

like the dog when we
found each other that hot,
dry evening so long ago.

 

jackboy

This first appeared here in September 2016.

 

On Air Conditioning

 

 On Air Conditioning

The man who owns everything wants more.

Another offers his sandwich,
accepting grace with a smile.

Like vapor condensing in a coil
to remove heat from the air.
Difficult to comprehend.

Harder to live.