And: A Mythology

 

And: A Mythology

Balancing the chair on two legs,
you claim no past,
and gravity,
though complicit in the future,
aligns itself with the mass.
No connections fuse the two.
Or, lying there, you bridge gaps,
clasping hands with distant cousins,
awake in the moment
yet ready to drift and continue,
a solitary seed awaiting nourishment,
steady, existing only between.

 

“And: a Mythology” first appeared in May 2020 at Literati Magazine. Many thanks to editor Renée Sigel for taking this and several other pieces.

.

Sleepless

 

 

Sleepless

One night exhausts another,
layering sheets and blankets,
wrinkles and folds. Oh, the
body wants to still the mind,
and shedding this weight,
float freely through the night.
Your memory of sleep’s touch
withers as you lie there,
absorbing the fan’s pattern.
How wonderful, then, to finally
drift across the room and settle
in that relaxed corner, among the
cobwebs and shadows and those
frustrated hours now set aside.

 

“Sleepless: first appeared here in October 2017.

 

 

Riddle, Dollar, String

 

Riddle, Dollar, String 

Living between, she pretends the comfort of walls
within walls, the unseen’s dispensation.
A slow dragging. The raked leaves.

And all the naked oaks bowing to the wind,
feeling the scratch of impending growth,
the twig’s pearl poised to push through
this mask, stolen sounds dotting the morning.

Later, watching lizards on the wall
or the haze of bees surrounding the agave.
No one pays. Limestone. Mulch. Light.
Unformed thoughts snaking through.

Like that line wrapped around her waist,
another purpose only she could explain.

“Riddle, Dollar, String” first appeared in The New Reader Magazine, in March 2018.

Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter

Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter 

Or a restless leaf, a footprint.

Is fault on a blameless day,
scrawled on a washed-out sky.

My friend’s music orbits his home,
worms through the cracks
in the bluest lines, ever new

and permanent, staining even his hope
long after the lights stutter away.
And the rain’s attenuated sorrows?

They’re coming, he says. Like goats
through a fence. Like lava. Like tomorrow.

* * *

“Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter” was first featured at Vox Populi in January 2017. I’m grateful to editor Michael Sims for supporting my work. It is the opening poem to my recently released chapbook, Buddha’s Not Talking, which is available here for $10 plus shipping and tax (where applicable). Simply type in “Okaji” to view all of my available books, or just add the title.

Self-Portrait as Window

window

Self-Portrait as Window

When you look through me
which darkness illuminates
your vision, outlining the
ghosts of never was and not
yet? Or do your eyes glare
back in silent terror, knowing
the power of liquid made
solid, of light transformed to
electricity and by inference
these words or the shades
drawn by voice command?
Transparent, elusive, evident,
I stand alone, clear. Hidden.

“Self-Portrait as Window” first appeared in The Dew Drop in November 2020.

Drawer of Possibilities

 

Drawer of Possibilities

In the drawer of possibilities
you find stasis, the lure of the unknown.
To what should this hinged orb
be subservient? Or that wrinkled blade?
An egg, the bald potato. The sacrificial
carrot? To everything its purpose.
Like that light in the crook of the
altered frame, attracting the winged
beings. You, of course, serve nothing.

 

 

“Drawer of Possibilities” first appeared in The New Reader in March 2018.

 

Bent

 

Bent

We’ve seen some version of the nail
curled over, the head angled at 90 degrees
or parallel to its body, just above

the penetration point. Three years ago
a tornado powered a single straw stem
through the oak’s bark and into its trunk,

illustrating the Old English beonet, for
“stiff grass,” and sadly conjuring the image
of a blade affixed to a firearm’s muzzle, the

etymology of which lies elsewhere, in Gascony.
And when we consider mental inclination,
signifying deflected, turned, or not straight,

we might also include an earlier past participle
meaning “directed in course.” But even the
tree’s armor could not deter the twister’s

wrath, and the hammer, no matter my aim
or purpose, seems intent upon glancing off
the nail, twisting it, leaving us, again, bent.

 

“Bent” first appeared in the print publication Ristau: A Journal of Being in January 2018.

 

It was 10 A.M. When the Angel Said You Have to Go Now

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It was 10 A.M. When the Angel Said You Have to Go Now

Forgive me for seeking clarity, but do you have a specific
destination in mind, or are you saying, with a little less
force, get lost, go away, I’m done with you, or might you
merely be suggesting that I go forth? And what exactly is
your position on, oh, let’s just say the afterlife and the
journey there? As for turning, you certainly did,
offering both in sequence, again and yet again, to my
great appreciation. Butter. You must explain your fetish
and how the room exuded pale gold and sweet after
one little death, as if a honeyed light had oozed in beneath
the door, and, in kissing the carpet, released endorphins
and cool warmth, and love-moths frantically flapping
to dry our sweat without the slightest chill. It’s the little
things, my mother always said, never considering size,
but meaning those thoughtful touches, the fresh flowers,
a plate of cheese and fruit, and yes, the tenor sax moaning
in the alcove. I’ll go, but you know this is my apartment.

“It was 10 a.m. When the Angel Said You Have to Go Now” was originally drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 fundraiser, thanks to d. ellis phelps, who sponsored and provided the title. It was subsequently published in Atlanta Review in May 2020. 

When to Say Goodbye (with recording)

dried

 

 

When to Say Goodbye

 If all goes well it will never happen.
The dry grass in the shade whispers

while the vines crunch underfoot,
releasing a bitter odor. A year ago

I led my dog to his death, the third
in five years. How such counting

precedes affection, dwindles ever
so slowly, one star winking out after

another, till only the morning gray
hangs above us, solemn, indefinite.

Voiceless. If I could cock my head
to howl, who would understand? Not

one dog or three, neither mother nor
mentor, not my friend’s sister nor her

father and his nephews, the two boys
belted safely in the back seat. No.

I walk downhill and closer to the creek,
where the vines are still green.

In the shade of a large cedar, a turtle
slips into the water and eases away.

 

* * *

 

“When to Say Goodbye,” drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, was published by Oxidant | Engine in May 2017, and subsequently nominated for a Best of the Net 2017 award.

 

Bamboo Flute

 

Bamboo Flute

I am studying simplicity
in the way a rattlesnake
watches a field mouse,

which means of course
that I am doing it all wrong
and making this much more

difficult. Today’s lesson
is humility: I achieve no
tone from this damn bamboo

flute, no matter how I adjust
my mouth and wind. Go
watch football
, the voices

say. Instead I go to the grocery,
buy my wife’s favorite
wine, and later pour her

a glass and offer Irish cheddar
with rice crackers and a few
grapes. I sip beer, pick up

the flute, and sound a
wavering D followed by a goose
fart and spitting hamsters.

Progress, at last! Now
back to the lesson. Relax.
I’m nailing this simplicity thing.

 

* * *

“Bamboo Flute” first appeared in The Larger Geometry: poems for peace, available at Amazon. This anthology of poems that “uplift, encourage and inspire,” features poets from five countries and three continents. Published by the interfaith peaceCENTER of San Antonio, Texas, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to benefit the peaceCENTER.

I’m pleased to have had a small role in selecting the poems.

Contributing poets include Lynne Burnett, Charlotte Hamrick, Daryl Muranaka, Stephanie L. Harper, Sudhanshu Chopra, Texas Poet Laureate Carol Coffee Reposa, Michael Vecchio, Rebecca Raphael and others.