Japanese Gardens

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Japanese Gardens

how natural the
lines falling so
purely as if

with a single
stroke we walk
through the opening

and see space
the white center
composed of sand

and gravel later
a gate opens
to another garden

its lantern and
stone so carelessly
arranged so deliberate

 

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“Japanese Gardens” first appeared here in January 2015.

 

Tree

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Tree

where you go
the wind follows
as if no

choice remains but
that of sun
and oak an

attraction such that
limbs curve to
light a certainty

which cautions us
to intrude lest
we lose all

sight and sense
of beauty you
are this tree

 

 

A Walk Through the Live Oaks

 

Written in the 80s, “Tree” first appeared here in December 2014.

The Draft (with recording)

 

The Draft

All memories ignite, he says, recalling
the odor of accelerants and charred

friends. Yesterday I walked to the sea
and looking into its deep crush

sensed something unseen washing
out, between tides and a shell-cut foot,

sand and the gull’s drift, or the early names
I assign to faces. This is not sadness.

Somewhere the called numbers meet.

 

* * *

“The Draft” first appeared in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art.

This Oak

  

This Oak

Never rooted in Tibet,
has not watched a whale breach
a November Pacific dusk, or guzzled
bitter beer near Vesuvius. Nor has it
absorbed the warmth of a loved one’s
hip on a frozen morning long after
the embers’ glow has greyed
and the windows blossomed
white. It cannot know the beauty
of disparate instruments playing
in joyous harmony. It will whisper
no incantations, does not smile,
won’t ever feel the anticipation
of a first kiss after a complicated
courtship. The bouquets of Bordeaux
elude it, as do tears or the benefits
of laughter. Why, then, do I envy it so?

 

 

“This Oak” was published in Slippery Elm (print only) published by Findlay University in Findlay, Ohio, in spring 2019. 

 

Threes

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Threes

Difficulties arrive in waves,
lending weight to the theory of threes,

the plunging fund, a failed engagement, the self’s
doubt, all combined to inflict the particular

misery of the ongoing, the continued, inelegant fate
that declares us human. Look,

she says, the hummingbird flits from leaf to
flower, its wings beating 58 times a second,

a fact not to be trifled with, for what may we duplicate,
contemplate, even, at that pace?

Say the hedge gets clipped, the ring whirs off the finger
and back to the jeweler, and all you know for certain

is that you don’t know. There is no why, no how. No
way. Or life’s reel unwinds and plays only in

reverse. Where do you stop and splice it, forming new,
uncharted worries? And what about that damned

bird, buzzing around your head in territorial fury? Yes,
yes, I know. These things are not my concern. Not really.

But they arrive in unending repetition, one after
the other, in clumps of three – lovely, lonely,

triple-threaded lines of vicissitude lapping at our ankles,
saying nothing, saying everything, saying it used to be so easy.

 

* * *

“Threes” was riginally published in Eclectica in July 2014, and first appeared on this blog in July 2015.

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Morning Covers You

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Morning Covers You

1

We extract
light, bleeding
it out one

diamond-shaped
hole after
another.

Finger the results.
Remediation
in form

or placement
to best
advantage?

At night
loneliness cradles
our bones.

2

You arrange our bodies to greater effect,
presuming lesser horrors
to be less.

A list emerges.
Refuting one,
accepting another.

Choices fixed.
Ecstasies of failure
purged.

Morning covers you
like a blue
shroud, so pale.

So cold
and bitter.

 

 

This originally appeared in Boston Poetry Magazine in April, 2014, and on this blog in October 2015.

diamond fence

 

The Trains I Know

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The Trains I Know

The trains I know
seek solitude
in darkness,

they wear
wind and cold
with pride,

are never
lonely.
Sometimes they

sing too loud,
or mourn
harshly a

star’s fall, but
they never
deny their

purpose: to
draw between
and connect,

to witness and
serve, to bear
and endure

our unsought
burdens
to the end.

 

* * *

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“The Trains I Know” was first published in RiverLit in 2013.

 

Jazz Study in Time: Migraine

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Jazz Study in Time: Migraine

How the body expends its pain,
receptors enunciating their message,

all of one pulse: outward then in,
ice pushing through glass,

metal’s red glow searing flesh,
and the moments between

the piercing and acceptance, the
dull and incomprehensible whirl

of lights flashing from midnight
to snowflake, returning, always there.

 

 

Abstract swirl

 

“Jazz Study in Time” first appeared on the blog in December 2015.

 

Privilege

 

Privilege

Every hour becomes another.

Surrendering minutes, accepting
gain, which gravities restrain us?

Strong coffee, books. A smile.

Such imponderables – the measured
digit, starlife, an unmarked sheet of
paper fluttering to the floor.

Sometimes the lights go out
and we wonder when they’ll return,
not if. Or the laborer misinterprets
a statement and stains the carpet.

There but for the grace…
Anything can happen, and frequently does,

but we open the door and step out, unhindered.

 

 

“Privilege” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for order now via Amazon.com and Finishing Line Press.

 

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.