stargazers in furious
bloom – vanilla air –
are the only flowers
that trust me, tell me
i am not hopeless;
the juice in their veins, the way
they gulp the sun and meet my face,
their beauty and their business
say i don’t need a green thumb
and the riotous garden.
all one needs is a singular love.
Birdless sky swells grey blue against
trees that stand like brushes
stiff in the cold
The penultimate breath
of a new earth
The dark disappears in a steadfast
philanthropy of color: red, orange, rose
blush up from the land over lakes and hills
and roof slats to tell the inhabitants
Night has not prevailed.
Earth e x h a l e s
as the Sun spills her promise.
we felt so grown up
when we were kids
and now wonder that
we are so old when
we're not yet grown
we started losing
our parents to
time and frailty.
in the cycle of life
things go upside
d o w n
into a world
above the logic of sorrow
and find you are so
small, but remember:
Mom's high ceiling,
your sure ground.
see the sky and trees
in your pool of tears
they're the other side
of life. how beautiful
things are when they drown
how clear it is underwater.
you long to run
to the garden
beyond that door
but you don't fit
life would feel deformed
under the weight of loss
if it weren't for the faith
that was bigger than the
life that shut down
she archived her fears and
hopes in her kids, did
anyone hear the story
in between, did
your heirloom assurance
the midnight of your dreams
is really a new day.
for HJ &
who would like it
By the second week I learned that Texans sweat as much
as the French, and swear even more, that you couldn’t fight one
twin without taking on the other. But the librarian would slip me
the choicest donated fiction, and I played baseball every day in the
vacant lot until sundown called the players home to black and white
body counts and cigarette commercials on the three channels we got.
Sometimes I lay in bed under the half-light of the whirring fan
blades, and dreamt of heroes and ornithopters, zebras and the scent
of chocolate chip cookies in the oven. Other nights I wondered
how words could rest so calmly on one page yet explode off the next,
or why a man would climb a tower in Austin to kill fourteen people.
Wasn’t living a matter of simple subtraction?
One by one the days parted and I walked through the dwindling
heat, eyes squinting, questions in hand, emerging fifty years later
having suffered the mathematics of love and success, honor and
truth, still asking why and how, where it’d gone, shoulders slumped
under the heft of those beautiful, terrible summers stacked high
like so many life-gatherings of unread books awaiting a bonfire.
Robert Okaji, O at the Edges
How do I miss thee? Gasp! Let me count the ways.
I miss thee to the deep, the space, and skies
My soul can reach as I strain for my prize,
For the ends of thought and ideal phrasings.
I love thee with the ease of every day’s vernacular
In most quiet need to velvet utterance on devilish wings.
I love thee unreservedly, be thy taskmaster or a friend avuncular
Through the days thou art my handmaiden of laughter.
I love thee like my child; I feed thee tenderly
And when I can’t I begin to starve; breath labors.
Oh, if time were more giving, more patient
I might dance another dance and sing what hides latent.
I miss thee that loss fills my well of joy with gravel
A week feels like two, two fortnights like four.
Parched, I am run aground on a lone shore
‘Til time should stall and bid the ink on my paper travel.
May Elizabeth Barrett Browning forgive me in her grave.
If I could I would gather all the words
from the wild, pick them like berries
and press them into these pages to
bleed them, beautiful, into my notebook
I would chase syllable streams that
refresh dry banks and stop. at the quarry
where I will cut confused hands on stone,
going through the ruins of my
dreams and I will bottle my cries to
pour over the altar of my art
If I could I would answer the laughter
in the wind, unravel the rhetoric of the rain,
and walking dirt and gravel transcribe
the vernacular of city streets
I would record every note of joy from children
and undo the silence of grandmothers,
ask them about dogged hope
I would keep on west of my despair,
right through the dying sun and spell
the sunrise as he lights land and sea
in the genius of resurrection.