Robert Okaji: Three Poems

In That Moment of Clarity

Body of moon, body of light. That
central point moving ever outward
through avoided bliss. No one
suited you. Spring became autumn
and your hair thinned as the soil
dried, inept, harsh, a howl caught
at the throat of the blurred lens
in the owl-eye of contention. Missteps
expanded in tongue-slipped days,
and you slurred forward. Yesterday’s
lapse. Today’s misdeed. Another’s
intent. My mistake was living.


Hearse, Departing

Not waiting for God. Nor that light
glancing off the windshield,
leaving us farther behind
in the blurred passage. Grief
is a cold engine, a stump,
a daily migraine. Not force
but absence. Gray sky
clamping down on the
sun-starved chrysanthemum.
Our goodbyes, incomplete.


In This Gray Morning I Think of Hiroshige

Hummingbirds pause at the agave blossoms.
Sunlight trickles through dense clouds.
I stand sweating in the emptiness.
Hiroshige, too, acknowledged oblivion,
leaving his brush in the East, having
completed a final task. Facing death,
he sought the Western Land. In this space
nothing fills me with desire. As you,
in your unknowing, observe the flow.

Robert Okaji lives in Indiana among hundreds of books, with his wife, stepson and cat. His most recent chapbook, Buddha’s Not Talking, won the 35th annual Slipstream Poetry Chapbook competition, and his work has recently appeared in Threepenny Review, orangepeelLakeshore ReviewEvergreen Review, and other venues.



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