Robert Okaji: Two Poems

Scarecrow’s Wealth

Who needs words when you own the wind?
When wingtips flash and you embrace the subtleties
of reflection and shrugs and the next moment’s
glee. My friends bring me bits of each day. 
Today, the bright cap lifted from a cava bottle’s
cork. Three days ago, an aluminum half-heart
stamped with “best.” The rodent-nibbled straw hat 
perched jauntily atop my head bears a pearl 
earring, and yesterday a skeleton 
key materialized in my left coat pocket,
in which a mouse skull and foil wrappers
also rest. My wealth abounds, and despite
protests, I am rewarded daily. Look, they say, 
accept these offerings for what they are: participation 
in joy. So I point to choice grains, contribute advice 
and song, screech warnings and recite poetry, 
though my straw tongue often wavers.
What else may I tender to those who travel
so freely? Last week a polished hinge
came to me, and before that, a chipped glass
eye, which might someday replace my missing 
ocular button, should needle and thread appear. 
Each day is a gift to be shared. Every gift, 
a celebration of days, a commitment to living.
I am grateful, and in my gratitude, give.

Cells

That morning I kneaded dough.
The rose wilted in its cup by the window.
Day folded into night.

What matters? Who?
I don’t know why hope dwindles.
Or how cells grow or navigate. Or
divide. Or keep living. What precedes change?

By candlelight, I sliced bread,
buttered it with a broad, dull blade.
Tossed a piece to my dog.

Planned the next move.


Robert Okaji is a displaced Texan living in Indiana. He holds a BA in history, served without distinction in the U.S. Navy, is the author of multiple chapbooks, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, Boston Review, Vox Populi, and elsewhere.

Simon Perchik: Five Poems

*
Inside this statue’s mouth its tongue
was run aground the way wave after wave
each fossil still hears itself becoming stone

and though the sea is just now taking place
your headstone says the darkness helps
 ̶ there’s nothing else, the voice you hear

is yours, again and again from your lips
as boundary stones, half sealed in the ground
half on all sides the years to come

as some hillside that no longer has its ballast
on the lookout, that waits for a wider shore
hemmed in, using the time over and over

to tighten around those bottom stones
mourners use to bring you nothing that moves
that feeds you salt, was brought by boat.

*
The rag you fold into a loop
knows better, flattening out
where a window should be

though night after night its soot
lifts off the way piece by piece
a sleeve empties into your hand

as moonlight  ̶ it was a dress
motionless, waiting at the wall
for her arm, the usual talk.

*
As if the sun was lost again, its light
crashing into this hillside already covered
with empty bottles, cans and the foul breath

left by a small fire after things didn’t work out
 ̶ your eyes still smoldering from nights
with enough rainfall for you to come back

healed by tears, by your  footsteps wiping dry
what dirt falls from your mouth
as something certain, could be counted on.

*
Every night now you circle the same lamp
become weightless though the bulb
is burning through a gap in the wires

the way madness arrives as darkness
and shoreline  ̶ the usual maneuver
 ̶ you reach in for the light

not yet struck by a wall kept waiting
for the sound that has no place to go
hears where the sun is buried

still breathing, lit, over and over
reaching for salt from the emptiness
in this room heated by a bed

and what’s left from a window
to put out the wound
reeking from ashes and cloth.

*
Too early? Even so, the sun
is backing out though this orchard
was already tilted into Autumn

by the flowers mourners use
to lower one season closer to another
the way every death here

begins as two :an added weight
that heats your forehead
till it touches where the ground

listens for the motherly darkness
made from stone that arrived
as two evenings at once, made heavier

for the kiss beginning a few feet away
still warm, not yet November
is leaving your face thinner, more like bones.


Simon Perchik‘s poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.

Jack Galmitz: “Water Off A Duck’s Back Inn”

Water Off A Duck’s Back Inn

Well, I guess we’re stuck with each other.
It looks that way.
It could have been worse.
I suppose so.
No, really. Just think of the possibilities.
I could have been stuck with a monkey grinder.
Exactly. And one who ate garlic raw.
Yeah.
You see. We’re getting along better already.
I wouldn’t go that far. We have a long history.
Are you feeling hot? I’m sweating.
I’m fine. Maybe you’re uncomfortable with what I said.
No. That’s not it. It’s close in here.
Of course. We’re like in one body.
Yeah. It’s like that.
That shouldn’t bother you. You like it that way.
What do you mean?
I said you like it very close.
What are you implying?
Nothing. I said what I meant.
No. Tell me. You meant something else.
Did I?
Yes. You did. Tell me.
Well I’ve seen you.
Yeah. Seen me what?
I’ve seen you looking.
So. Everyone looks.
Yeah, but you look at everyone.
I do not.
You do. I’ve seen you look at the curves of rear ends.
I only look at women’s rears.
I don’t think so. I’ve seen you.
Fuck you.
How would you like to do it?
That’s very original.
Look just tell me if you like saunas?
Everyone who joins a gym uses the sauna. You know there’s just no getting along with you.
I feel the same way about you. Look it’s not a big deal. A man’s rear might look like a granite formation in Yosemite. Smooth. Solid. Enduring. It draws the eyes.
So what are you saying?
I’m saying it’s chic. Give it a rest.
Are you for real?
Are you religious?
Don’t bring up that subject.
Okay I won’t. It’s boring anyway.
So, what’s next?
I don’t know. We’ll play it by ear.
Or tongue?
You’re being childish.
What’s wrong with children?
You’re like my father. Always changed the subject.
Outside the bay window, they saw two ducks floating on the pond. The wind was coming up and blowing the tail feathers. They helped themselves to the preening fluid there. One of the ducks took the fluid and preened the other. They had mated for the season. Next season there would be another mate.
Shadows were beginning to fill in the crevices between things in the room.
You want to get some dinner at the restaurant in town?
Sounds good.
You sure you don’t mind being seen with me?
Why should I?
Well, we are in our forties and single.
So what?
You know what people say.
I’m hungry.
Me, too.
—————————————————————————————————————–
Jack Galmitz was born in 1951 in NYC. Though an older man, he doesn’t write poems about his libido and find words to rhyme with it. He is published in Otoliths, otata, And/Or, Poetica Review, and many other sites.

Holly Day: Two Poems

Clinging To

We all want to leave a ghost behind, to believe
that our passing from this world will leave such a vacuum
that some remnant of what we were had to stay behind
that the walls and the floors of our house
take enough interest in our activities
to hold the energy of our traumas to replay
for future audiences.

There have to be ghosts, because we are so important
to ourselves and the people we surround ourselves with
there had to be at least some tiny flicker left behind
or some imposing force that lets you know
somebody else once lived in this house
someone who’s no longer here.

 

The Cottage

If you stay in this room for too long
you will become a part of my fairy tale
initially cast in the role of a prince or a villain
doomed to eventually shrink to the status of a talking mouse
or an abandoned spinning wheel. This is what happens

when people let me write them into my life.
There is only room for one main character
in my story, and I can’t afford the time to write in the supporting cast
as anything but flat and one-dimensional.

 


Holly Day (hollylday.blogspot.com) has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest poetry collections are Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), and Book of Beasts (Weasel Press).

 

Roger Singer: “Head Clearing”

Head Clearing

feeling lost
but not afraid
I quickly move
among levels
of nearby shadows
on a walk with
evening,
attempting
to wear out the
approaching
darkness
and uncounted stars,
as winds close in
on my heels
attempting to
push me
off center
___________________________________________________________________
Dr. Singer is the Poet Laureate of Old Lyme, Connecticut. He has had over 1,150 poems published on the internet, magazines, and in books and is a 2017 Pushcart Prize Award Nominee. He is also the President of the Shoreline Chapter of the Connecticut Poetry Society. Some of the magazines that have accepted his poems for publication are:  Westward Quarterly, Jerry JazzSP QuillAvocetUnderground VoicesOutlaw PoetryLiterary FeverDance of my HandsLanguage & CultureAdelaide Literary MagazineThe Stray BranchToasted CheeseTipton Poetry Journal, Ambassador Poetry Award Massachusetts State Poetry Society, Louisiana State Poetry Society Award 2019, Arizona State Poetry Society Award 2020, and Mad Swirl Anthology 2018 and 2019.