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.

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