A Herd of Watermelon

A Herd of Watermelon

My work tools include rubber boots, a hydraulic
jack and snake tongs. Prevention over cure, always.

A helicopter’s shadow crosses the yard.
I sweat in cold weather; today even the shade burns.

Ants swarm a dead bat on the gravel.
No keys for these locks, no fire for that place.

Stepping inside, the city welcomes me.
We drain coffers for this grass, and hope for rain.

This morning two deer jumped the east fence while I
updated software. The significance eludes us.

A dream of watermelons rising from their viny beds,
lumbering through the field to the creek. Rebellion!

How many have sat at this desk before me, plotting
murders and rumors or rhymes. Die, mosquito. Die!

“A Herd of Watermelon” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge. Thank you to Plain Jane for sponsoring the poem and providing the title.

Parting from Wang Wei (after Meng Haoran)

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Parting from Wang Wei (after Meng Haoran)

These quiet days are ending
and now I must leave.

I miss my home’s fragrant grasses
but will grieve at parting – we’ve

eased each other’s burdens on this road.
True friends are scarce in life.

I should just stay there alone, forever
behind the closed gate.

* * *

“Parting from Wang Wei” is included in my micro-chapbook, No Eye But The Moon’s, available via free download at Origami Poems Project.

The transliteration on Chinese-poems.com reads:

Quiet end what wait
Day day must go return
Wish seek fragrant grass go
Grieve with old friend separated
On road who mutual help
Understanding friend life this scarce
Only should observe solitude
Again close native area door

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Prentiss Moore, 1947-1998

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Prentiss Moore, 1947-1998

I’d been so busy with the bookstore that we’d not been in touch. I always thought we’d have time for that breakfast, for those drinks, for that laughter. I heard about his death only minutes before the memorial gathering was to begin. Stunned, and dressed in my standard bookseller’s uniform of jeans and wrinkled shirt, unshaven, I felt inadequate to the occasion, betrayed, embarrassed. The clear sky pressed uncomfortably close. How dare he die! Why did I not know? The ground shifted underfoot and I walked like a man underwater. I swatted at a buzzing wasp, not caring if it retaliated. And for the first time I realized that I, too, was dying. We all were. We all are. The gathering was lovely, memorable. Friends, family, acquaintances and even strangers spoke. I could not.

I once said that I hoped to become half the poet that Prentiss was. I may finally be approaching that elusive mark, but I’m still angry. How dare he die!

To read one of his most memorable poems, please look here:

And my poem for Prentiss can be found on this blog:

https://robertokaji.com/2014/09/06/earths-damp-mound/

Yesenin

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Yesenin

Respite, involuntary and gentle
circling one’s
collar, a touch barely felt, renewed.

Or, the other turns,
belying expression and the halted voice.

The recursive window, closing.
A final poem in blood.

And beyond the glass? The face behind
the indifferent mask
designs its own

smile, risking everything
as the chair’s leg tilts,

inertia become constriction,
the taut lapse begun.

* * *

A fascinating poet, Sergei Yesenin died nearly 90 years ago. You might check out his bio on wikipedia.

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Jack Underwood’s Essay “On Poetry and Uncertain Subjects”

In his essay “On Poetry and Uncertain Subjects” in the May 2018 issue of Poetry, Jack Underwood discusses uncertainty and “the empathetic negotiation of meaning between poets and readers.” No wonder I so often feel uneasy yet somehow comforted before, after, and while writing…

Gemini Ink Writers Conference in San Antonio, July 2018

Gemini Ink Writers Conference in San Antonio, July 2018

This 3-day conference has quite the line up in poetry, with renowned poet and editor Veronica Golos, Pulitzer Prize winner Vijay Seshadri, and Ruth Lilly Prize winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist Martín Espada. I can’t pass up this opportunity, and have already registered for Veronica Golos’s workshop. The conference runs from Friday, July 20 until 6:00 p.m. Sunday, July 22. If you’re a local or don’t mind traveling and want to sample the Texas summer (we do have air conditioning), you might consider Gemini Ink Writers Conference. I’m excited!

The non-poetry offerings are equally impressive, but hey, I’m a poet, and will let someone else address those.