Somehow Dawn

 

Somehow Dawn

I don’t know what to say. Or how.
Feeling that I am on the upslope,
not close. Not wrong. I want
to be that hollowed space
in the hackberry’s trunk,
the calm of darkened light.
And more. Some honey, dripped
from the spoon. A house finch,
fluttering. I will whittle my losses,
carve out needs. She will tell me
the history of our days. She will
smile, engrave her initials on my
chest. Somehow, the birds still
sing. Somehow, dawn trickles in.

 

“Somehow Dawn” was first published in August 2019 at Vox Populi. I am grateful to Michael Simms for his support, and am thrilled to be a regular contributor to this lively publication.

Shadow (with Recording)

image

 

 

Shadow

walking,
crushing juniper berries
at dusk

the dog shadows me
in his absence

 

* * *

“Shadow” first appeared here in April, 2015. It could be considered a companion piece to “Mother’s Day,” which is included in the July 2016 edition of The Lake.

image

Music: “Thunderbird” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

 

Dashi

Dashi

I make dashi with water, dried bonito and seaweed,
and maybe a few drops of soy sauce for added flavor.

A simple broth, assembled by hand to enhance, a
concept mislaid in this pre-packaged world.

Today I have blown three notes through the shakuhachi,
each one separate, but all gathered under one roof

for no tangible purpose, released to entropy
and the drops coalescing on the window.

We never know what stew will result from the day’s
efforts, whose lips will force air through which root

end. I close my eyes and imagine the second note’s
shape, how it bells over raindrops to absorb

their sound, bending into the third note spiraling up
and away from my hands, my eyes, my breath.

* * *

“Dashi” and “Inheritance” first appeared in The Closed Eye Open, a publication focusing on consciousness. Many thanks to editors Daniel A. Morgan, Maya Highland and Aaron Lelito for taking this piece.

Poem Up at Compass Rose

 

Jackboy

My poem “Limping Uphill through the Mist, I Consult My Dead Dog and Dream of Indianapolis and the Woman Who is Not Yet There” is live at Compass Rose.. I am grateful to editor Kelly Easton for publishing this piece, which appears in my latest chapbook, Buddha’s Not Talking, available from Slipstream Press. Signed copies are also available via Loud Bug Books.

 

On Parting (after Tu Mu)

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On Parting (after Tu Mu)

This much fondness numbs me.
I ache behind my drink, and cannot smile.
The candle too, hates parting,
and drips tears for us at dawn.

A non-poet friend asked why I’m dabbling in these adaptations. After all, she said, they’ve already been translated. Why do you breathe, I replied, admittedly a dissatisfying, snarky and evasive answer. So I thought about it. Why, indeed. The usual justifications apply: as exercises in diction and rhythm, it’s fun, it’s challenging. But the truth is I love these poems, these poets, and working through the pieces allows me to inhabit the poems in a way I can’t by simply reading them. And there is a hope, however feeble, of adding to the conversation a slight nuance or a bit of texture without detracting from or eroding the original.

The transliteration on Chinese-poems.com reads:

Much feeling but seem all without feeling
Think feel glass before smile not develop
Candle have heart too reluctant to part
Instead person shed tear at dawn

red_coat

This first appeared on the blog in October 2014.

Self-Portrait as Question

 

Self-Portrait as Question 

Walking hand-in-hand with what,
who presupposes why, and when
huddles with where before skittering
off to its murky corner. Sometimes
I present myself as a shy minute
or a cloud’s effigy streaming across
a scruffy field. Few suspect the truth.
Answers ricochet from the limestone
wall, but no one nabs them. I react
quickly and offer the unknown, the
life I claim, my name, in return.

 

* * *

“Self-Portrait as Question” was first published in Rue Scribe in September 2018. Many thanks to Eric Luthi and the editors at Rue Scribe for accepting this piece and several others.

My Chapbook, Buddha’s Not Talking, is Now Available via the Publisher and Biblio.com

Buddha's

The winner of Slipstream’s 35th Annual Poetry Chapbook Competition, Buddha’s Not Talking is now available for purchase through Slipstream Press. Signed copies are available exclusively from Loud Bug Books via Biblio.com here. Simply type in “Okaji” to view all of my available books, or just add the title. $10 plus shipping and tax (where applicable).

Cover art by the fabulous Stephanie L. Harper!

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.

My Chapbook, Buddha’s Not Talking, is Now Available

Buddha's

The winner of Slipstream’s 35th Annual Poetry Chapbook Competition, Buddha’s Not Talking is now available for purchase. Slipstream Press has not yet provided an order link on their site, but signed copies may be ordered here. Simply type in “Okaji” to view all of my available books, or just add the title. $10 plus shipping and tax (where applicable).

Cover art by the fabulous Stephanie L. Harper!

When Shadows Hide

  

When Shadows Hide

I breathe when you breathe,
and watching me,
you capture each lost molecule.

This book blinks whenever you turn the page.
I see you between the words, between the white threads.

You are the adored chapter, the one I read in bed before
sleep, and after I wake, before the first wren announces
dawn, then in the afternoon’s highest point, when shadows hide,
and later, as they emerge to stroke your bare shoulder.

What’s on the other side, you ask. What do you hear?

Your breath, I say. Your name.

 

“When Shadows Hide” was first published in the print anthology Epiphanies and Late Realizations of Love in February 2019.