Calm

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Calm (after H.D.)

I flow over the ground,
healing its hidden scar–
the scar is black,
the bedrock risen,
not one stone is misplaced.

I relieve the ground’s
burden with white froth,
I fill and comply—
I have thrown a pebble
into the night,
it returns to me,
settles and rises,
a white dove.

 

* * *

“Calm” is included in my micro-chapbook Only This, which is available via free download from Origami Poems Project. It made its first appearance here on the blog in March 2015, and was written as an exercise, using a poem, “Storm,” by H.D. as the launching point. I’ve tried to emulate her diction and rhythm, with mixed success. Still, it’s fun to try these on occasion.

 

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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.

 

Giving Time

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Giving Time

The supplicant’s desire:

mornings sliced into perfect pieces, afternoons
dipped in honey, evenings freed.

A gift of absence.

To gather and bear, shaping
the resultant minutes,

she takes yeast from the air, adds
flour, water and salt.

Matched with the ripening

hour and the sweetened bitter taste,
I recall how blood
seeped through the towel, and

observe on the table the
cheese, plums, the harvested day.

 

 

* * *

This originally appeared on Bonnie Mcclellan’s International Poetry Month website. A recording is also available there: https://bonniemcclellan.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/giving-time-by-robert-okaji/

 

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Recording of “The Loneliness of the Last”

The Loneliness of the Last

Always exposed, never sharing the comfort
of between, you see only the departed

diminishing with each second’s passage, blurring,
shrinking, and finally blinking out, all points

erased in the null, an eye closing in the tunnel.
Or, inhaling the fragrance of an unseen orange

grove filtered through coal and thick, black
coils, you accept the limits of possibility,

known only by edges flowing past, lost
to touch and forever beyond reach in the draft

of the inadmissible. Departure defines
you. What lies ahead is not yours to embrace.

* * *

“The Loneliness of the Last” was published as a mini-broadside by ELJ Editions in February 2017.

Loneliness

“Trem Abandonado” by Rafael Vianna Croffi
(https://www.flickr.com/photos/rvc/29472173566)

 

Osso Buco

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Osso Buco

The reconciled, the residue of one’s
virtues displayed or absorbed

that within become the basis for
talk: furtive movements, the knife’s

gentle persuasion, wine
afforded the quality of enhancement.

We must preserve the truth, and other
disingenuous phrases, as if we may

admit our tastes only at great cost
to our politics and sense of being.

And fruitful loss – the reduction
sauce, or stock evaporated – which

attaches in dissipation
the grace of subtlety. To be more

with less. To be apparent yet
concealed. To be, in turn, aware.

 

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“Osso Buco” first appeared here in March 2015.

 

Knots

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Knots

Who you are not seldom rises
beyond midnight’s

sum: one strand thrown over
another, looped through

and pulled taut, achieving
tension and a sour taste

at the back of your throat.
Everyone believes this

doesn’t bleed. I lock the
windows, draw the shades,

twist the cord. Even distracted,
nothing comes undone.

 

modern light MGD©

 

“Knots” first appeared here in June 2016.

 

Roof Charm

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Roof Charm

What is home if not exile to the familiar?

A serrated kiss at the closet door.

We duck our heads and cook meals undercover,
the sun’s rays deflected.

And every relentless     day finds
our hands     wanting.

The black shawl, unfolded.
Wax melted on the whetstone.

You say stars shiver despite their light.

You say one hand      mirrors its mate’s      arc.

I say warmth flows through you, the roof     our sky.

 

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“Roof Charm” made its first appearance here in June 2016.

 

Human Distance

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Human Distance 

1

Apart from edges, and into deeper darkness,
our scars crawl, remaining aloof.

2

Open windows frame the ache in motion, the
displaced notes between two wavering spaces.

3

Absent light, absent voice. What is the longitude of
grace? Consider errors and their remnants.

4

Navigators measured lunar distance and the height
of two bodies to determine Greenwich time.

5

I study the passing cloud
and its descent, noting the nature of condensation.

6

Desire: the fragmented night and its circumstance.

7

Heavenly form. The moon’s dull glow.
Acquiescence before the body’s silt.

8

Interstellar matter become dust, become
gas, become molecule.

9

Human distance registers no scale.

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“Human Distance” was published in Bindlestiff in summer 2016, and has also appeared on this blog.

Returns

baby birds

 

Returns

What good is a rock
if the people fall, if truth

remains but no one
hears the long grass

rattle, and words
burst into flame

and gas, and life
poisons itself with

greed and the deficit
of compassion.

No body exists to bury.
I am trying to return

to a place of open
mouths, of nests and

groves left standing
despite their value

to the market. Which
pocket do I empty,

what song do I leave
unsung. Tomorrow

always becomes
yesterday, and today

flakes away into chilled
ash, carried over

rooftops and clouds,
never to be seen again.

 

gargoyle

“Returns” first appeared here in September 2017.