With Summer Purpled Awe

Nawlins

With Summer Purpled Awe

1

No one wants to be forgotten
or remembered for the wrong reasons,
but how do we attain that sweet spot
between regrettable and a barred
door clanking shut? I was born in
Louisiana. What happened next
is that song living at the edge of
memory, just beyond grasp, its
lyrics gnarled and tangled in the
roots of an old cypress along a
muddy creek. Yeah, that one. I
won’t sing it in this lifetime.
That tune’s never coming back.

2

You stretch out your hands
and a reflection cuts you in half.

3

I should have grabbed you and the dog,
and headed to Texas. They’ve got hills
there that the tide won’t reach, and
trees that won’t die from salt
poisoning, whose branches
won’t be festooned with children’s
clothing and bits of people’s torn
lives, and the stench won’t linger
longer than regret and the effect
of poor choice and dumb luck.

4

There, then gone. I scream
until my voice rasps away
but you are still out there,
still floating, still afraid
and angry and beautiful, hair
forming a halo around your
face, no tears, no sound
but water lapping, and
the flies zeroing in.

5

Next time there will be no party.
I’ll wait alone to greet the rain.
The wind will scour me
as I embrace what comes.

* * *

“With Summer Purpled Awe” was drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. Many thanks to Charlotte Hamrick who sponsored and provided the title.

With Summer Purpled Awe

Nawlins

With Summer Purpled Awe

1

No one wants to be forgotten
or remembered for the wrong reasons,
but how do we attain that sweet spot
between regrettable and a barred
door clanking shut? I was born in
Louisiana. What happened next
is that song living at the edge of
memory, just beyond grasp, its
lyrics gnarled and tangled in the
roots of an old cypress along a
muddy creek. Yeah, that one. I
won’t sing it in this lifetime.
That tune’s never coming back.

2

You stretch out your hands
and a reflection cuts you in half.

3

I should have grabbed you and the dog,
and headed to Texas. They’ve got hills
there that the tide won’t reach, and
trees that won’t die from salt
poisoning, whose branches
won’t be festooned with children’s
clothing and bits of people’s torn
lives, and the stench won’t linger
longer than regret and the effect
of poor choice and dumb luck.

4

There, then gone. I scream
until my voice rasps away
but you are still out there,
still floating, still afraid
and angry and beautiful, hair
forming a halo around your
face, no tears, no sound
but water lapping, and
the flies zeroing in.

5

Next time there will be no party.
I’ll wait alone to greet the rain.
The wind will scour me
as I embrace what comes.

 

“With Summer Purpled Awe” was my 28th offering for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project last August. Many thanks to Charlotte Hamrick who sponsored and provided the title.

I’ll be reading with other Tupelo Press 30-30 alums tomorrow evening, Friday, April 15, at Malvern Books in Austin.

 

Day Twenty-one, Tupelo Press 30/30 Project

waterfront

“Before We Knew” is among the Day Twenty-one offerings of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project (9 poets have agreed to write 30 poems apiece in 30 days, to raise funds for Tupelo Press, a non-profit literary publisher). Many thanks to Ursula, who sponsored and provided the title.

Before We Knew

All thought of consequence
melted with that first touch
of tongue to skin, no respite
to be found in that heat…

To see the rest of the poem, click here

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “Setting Fire to the Origami Crane (the One Floating on Muscongus Bay) at Sunset,” thanks to the kindness and generosity of Jilanne Hoffman.

I hope that the sponsored titles and my responses to them have been entertaining, but other sponsorship opportunities abound. For information on these and their corresponding incentives, click here.

“Name That Poem” sponsorships are still available for Monday and beyond. Conjure up a title (be creative, be weird, be gentle, be poetic, oh, heck, be mean if you wish), donate $10 to Tupelo Press, let me know what the title is, and I’ll write the poem. The  sponsored poems thus far have been a blast to write, and the titles have led me to poems I’d not otherwise have written. If you’re so inclined, please visit the 30/30 blog at: Donate to Tupelo. Scroll down to “Is this donation in honor of a 30/30 poet?” and select my name, “Robert Okaji,” from the pull down so that Tupelo knows to credit the donation to me. And please let me know as soon as possible what your title is.

Thank you for your support! Only 9 poems to go!