My poem “Memorial Day” is live at Verse Daily..I am grateful to editor J.P. Dancing Bear 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.
This is quite the honor for me. I never dared dream about having a poem on Verse Daily, as such things don’t happen to random old guys off the street. Until they do!
Balancing the chair on two legs,
you claim no past,
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.
Which is not to say lightning or hail.
Sometimes I forget to open the umbrella
until my glasses remind me: Wake up, you’re
wet! If scarcity breeds
value, what is a thunderhead worth
in July? A light shower in August?
Even spreadsheets can’t tell us.
“In Praise of Rain” is included in my recently released chapbook, Buddha’s Not Talking, available from the publisher, Slipstream Press. Signed copies may be purchased exclusively from Loud Bug Books in Indianapolis. Simply type in “Okaji” to view all of my available books, or just add the title. $10 plus shipping and tax (where applicable).
A father sings to his son,
dead two days,
and the platitudes persist.
Widow of night. Lantern’s trick.
What trace, you wonder,
exists of humanity in these etched
walls? Light bleeds through a crack
like rules unheeded and scattered.
Another sheer looming of hours.
The song, continued.
“Aleppo” was first published in Vox Populi in August 2018. I am grateful to editor Michael Simms for his continuing support of my work.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).