December Moon (1999)

 


December Moon (1999)

If loneliness breathes,
then rain is its heart,

always falling to its lowest point
before receding. Water graces us

daily in all its forms – the slowest
drop, the line of ice on the wall,

your breath, so soft and even
in the cool night. But no one,

no thing, can fill the void of
departure. You exhale and turn

away, and the air, with its empty
arms, embraces the space

you’ve left. I feel this daily,
whenever we part. At forty-one

I’ve known you half my life
but have loved you even longer,

through the millennium’s demise
and all that preceded or follows.

The brightest moon for a century to come
is but a shadow in your light.

 

This first appeared on the blog in October 2015. It’s hard to believe that I wrote “December Moon” nearly eighteen years ago. Busy with books, work and life, I didn’t write much in the nineties. But this, the last poem of that decade, recently surfaced. The sentiments are as true today as they were then. I am a lucky man.

streetfog

Sunday Compulsion: Devi S. Laskar (Why I Write)

Welcome to “Sunday Compulsion,” in which creatives answer one question: Why do I create? Poet Devi S. Laskar kicks off this new weekly feature.

I’ve been writing poems since I was 9 years old. It’s who I am: a poet. I write nonfiction and I write short stories and novels and I do so because I have this desire to communicate. I am interested in all kinds of forms. And I love to read, which is probably why I live to write. I’m trying to write the stories and the poems I haven’t read yet.

Devi S. Laskar is a native of Chapel Hill, N.C. She holds an MFA from Columbia University in New York, an MA in South Asian Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in journalism and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A former newspaper reporter, she is now a poet, photographer and artist. Her photographs include the cover of The Florida Review; and in the pages of Tiferet Journal and Blue Heron Review. Her art can be found currently on the cover of L.A. based Las Lunas Locas poetry anthology. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including The Blue Heron Review, which nominated her for Best of the Net 2016 & The Raleigh Review, which nominated her for Best New Poets 2016. She is an alumna of both TheOpEdProject and VONA/Voices, and served as a Tupelo Press’ 30/30 Project poet in December 2015. She is also an alumna of Hedgebrook, and poetry workshops at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. In 2016, she won first prize in poetry at the 27th Mendocino Coast Writers Conference contest. Finishing Line Press published the first of two chapbooks, “Gas & Food, No Lodging” in March 2017; and will publish “Anastasia Maps” later this year. She now lives in California.

You can get Devi’s book Gas & Food, No Lodging at Finishing Line Press and Amazon,
as well as Bookshop Santa Cruz and online at Barnes & Noble.

Read this review!

Read and listen to her poem “Unanswered, Untranslatable”

To learn more about Devi, visit her website, which includes links to her artaday, essays, and various publications her work has appeared in.

And this podcast.

 

 

Untitled from the 80s

Another untitled poem from the 80s…

wood and water
the wave of
fragrance so perfect

we seek to
obtain it as
if we could

be windows open
to a light
the gentlest cloud

would obscure still
spreading like one’s
final exhalation which

travels only to
disperse and become
at last another’s

Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine

snow

Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine (after Hokusai)

Who knows where bird
begins and tree

ends,

which branch shifts
snow, which bears

eternity. This, too, will share

joy,
elusive green

and breath,
with no thought

of flight

and night’s
fall.

This first appeared in Panoply in summer, 2016, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Many thanks to editors Ryn Holmes, Jeff Santosuosso and Andrea Walker for this honor, my first such nomination.

It also appears in my forthcoming chapbook, From Every Moment a Second.

See the woodblock print that sparked this poem: Hokusai

crane

Excerpt from My Forthcoming Chapbook

…Red, like your favorite sky,
the in-between, the misplaced one.

From “I Have Answers,” in From Every Moment a Second, available for prepublication order via Finishing Line Press.

 

Review: Robert Okaji’s “From Every Moment A Second”.

The first review!

I Am Daniel Schnee

Okaji Image

FROM EVERY MOMENT A SECOND
Robert Okaji
Finishing Line Press
2017

★★★★★

From Every Moment A Second, the latest chapbook by American poet Robert Okaji, is yet another meticulously crafted collection of observations, private austerities and hesitancies spelt out in verse. A small collection of twenty poems, each feels “warm”, like a cozy winter Sunday on your living room couch – to paraphrase Junichiro Tanizaki – lost in contemplation of flavours to come.

What makes it a five star collection is each poem is clear in its vision, each unambiguously a part of the greater gist of the book. Each line shows where lesser works ‘tell’, and thus this collection feels like a series of tiny one act plays. Part of this is how each line and stanza feels like it has been put exactly in its proper place, that any further edits would remove a character or…

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Review: You Break What Falls – Robert Okaji

Dani, from Only Books and Horses, has reviewed my 2015 micro-chapbook, You Break What Falls.

onlybooksandhorses

You Break What Falls – Robert Okaji – 4 stars

‘You Break What Falls’ is a quick little poetry collection which you can access (for free!) here. It consists of six little poems, and guys – I would suggest it’s worth a look!

Each poem is succinct and thoughtfully crafted, grounded in tangibility, and yet light with abstraction. Although there were points where the philosophy felt a little heavy-handed (especially in ‘In Praise of Rain’), as a whole the collection was delightful to read. I loved the almost haiku-like simplicity of the lines, and the way each poem focused on specificity without running out of things to say.

My particular favourite of the collection was ‘Mirror’ – it was so perfectly contained that it left me wanting to give someone a sincere yet animated high five.

The other thing is, Okaji excels at last lines. Every single on of…

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