Original Poetry: Children of the Sun

The five elderly speakers of Yuchi
      in Oklahoma call themselves
Tsoyaha— “Children of the Sun,”
      but their time sets
and with it, their words lapse
      alongside Amazonian Oro Win,
Arctic Ter Sami, and pre-Neolithic Jeru.

Whose nuance knew the push-pull
      of a lemon quarter squeezed
over kalamata olives and albacore?
      Each final voice
becomes a stiff Cassandra, slowing
      in cadence, scaly in timbre.
Who will think to carve diction
      into stone? to ossify
the tongue for slower erosion?

The Thao of Taiwan, ancestors of Polynesia,
      settled the shores of Sun Moon Lake
long before sending their children
      into the rising sun.
Tongues, like so many fishes
      from a bleached reef;
I know where they were
      and scavenge among the bones.

[This poem was written after I read the non-fiction book, 1000 Languages by Peter K. Austin.]
[Check out other original poems here.]

Poetry Review: “From Every Moment a Second” by Robert Okaji

From Every Moment a SecondFrom Every Moment a Second by Robert Okaji
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From the poet/author of the stunningly sublime If Your Matter Could Reform comes this new chapbook in pre-order until October 2017.

This collection of 20 poems is a study in the ephemeral and the elusive, in the little things like mayflies and beetles, but also in the delicate flicker of shadows. Mostly it aims to express the intangible and barely accessible, such as Grief which permeates the collection:

[from “Every Wind”]

Grief ages one thread at a time,

lurking like an odor
among the lost

or your breath,
still out there,


The speaker finds the world around him reflecting his grief, longing, and desperation. From quick observations like the lines “The house finch sings as if / all air will expire at the song’s end” [from “If Ahead I See”] to the extended association of “Firewood”:

For two years the oak
loomed, leafless.
We had aged
together, but somehow
I survived the drought
and ice storms, the
regret and wilt,
the explosions within,
and it did not.
I do not know
the rituals of trees,
how they mourn
a passing, or if
the sighs I hear
betray only my own
frailties, but even
as I fuel the saw and
tighten the chain,
I look carefully
for new growth.

A couple strong poems find inspiration in art. One from Hokusai’s wood print “Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine”
and the other from the jazz riffs of Miles Davis and Johnny Coltrane. The latter reflects both the improvisational jazz licks and the cadences of previously likewise-inspired poets such as Allen Ginsberg.

[from “The Resonance of No”]
. . . while standing with hands in soapy water, thoughts
skipping from Miles Davis’s languid notes to the spider
ascending to safe shelter under the sill (after I blow
on her to amuse myself), washing my favorite knife . . .

. . . And if I linger at the plates, even the chipped one,
admiring their gleam after hot water rinses away
the soap residue, who could question the gulp
of ale or the shuffle of an almost but not quite
dance step or stumble while arranging them on the
ribbed rack, back-to-back, in time to Coltrane’s
solo. Then the forgotten food processor’s blade
bites my palm . . .

I received my copy of this collection directly from the poet.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

Original Poetry: Aubade

Spritely glimmers play
in the shadows of Venetian blinds
        cast upon the far wall.
I’m too awake and all elbows
and angles – perpendicular
to still slumbering you.

I wish to fold into myself
as a pocket, as sea anemones
        do in their dappled world.
        Or better, to collapse in as a cat –
dismissing this early hour
          with half-closed eyes,
          my body retracing your thigh.
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: 10:55 Flight to Chicago from Heathrow

A final look back at the boarding gate
               shows stand-bys milling, rushing
               among linen scarves, watches and fresh
               fruit booths from the Tube station escalator.
Trains networking out embrace fields, coasts,
               and leaping rivers, disturbing the contours
               to reach the valleyed cities.
Rains sweep down and stop miserably,
               as they had started, luring
               someone into the sea by warm sun
               and high waves industrially glossed.
The castle deteriorates upon the throbbing
               club pulsating with men-by-day
               experiencing Madonna with each breath
               of bottled poppers.
Separate out a quarter and smoke it, surfer.
Gather blossoms from the rhododendrons
               to sprinkle on the water ebbing further
               from shore draining this filthy bay
               marred by a fresh stream cutting
               through attracting gulls.
Come in, roll up, blow blue smoke
               out the windows from the lofty ledges
               used by bees that just want the jam packets
               to get drunk on like we get drunk on
               before dancing, dancing, and sleeping
               with the nice looking guy who tries
               to lure us back to his place before coming in ours.
Was it worth it?
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: Rain

It’s raining today
                     You were drunk again
not hard
                     last night
but nicely misty
                     like two nights before
a gentle reminder
                     the night before that
of simplicity.
                     I’ll stop.
I’ve felt the rain
                     Have I
many times
                     expressed my concern
but each time
                     or do I
I feel quenched
                     cry alone
of a thirst
                     in my sleep
I harbor
so unknowingly.
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: Unsaid

From my grassy nest shadowed from street light,
the two are silhouetted and still
except for the glowing cigarettes bobbing.
Though but a brush stroke of sound filters
through, cigarette gestures sketch conversation.
As one glows more brightly, the other
etches a broad emphatic loop concluded
by a tap sprinkling orange embers.
The answering one outlines a Picasso—
a point well made. Both fiery lights rise
and intensify as they are bellowed. Both
are then tapped as the lull continues.
One retraces its loop as the other plummets
shattering sparks then snuffed and ground out.
The first falls limp, dives, bouncing, spattering
a trail. The silhouettes rise and glide
out of view. My eyes focus on the glowing
remnant and heavily blink closing
as it winks out. I wonder what was unsaid.
[Check out other original poems here.]

Original Poetry: Sestina of a Poet

A café, a beer, a cigarette, a pen and napkin
and I create the perfect stereotype penned
this decade, but it’s my always life. The cigarettes
chain themselves during my introspection chased by beer,
which hardly explains why for endless hours, I
sit alone at a four-person table in the café.

I blame it on the anomalous ambiance of a Brazilian café
in Iowa—or possibly on the plethora of napkins
littering the bar and tabletops. Regardless, I
always resume the search for a working pen
before nursing my first imported bitter beer
of the night and lighting the mentholating cigarette.

The hypnotic mood is timed with the inhale of the cigarette.
The smoke diffuses to the draped corners of the café,
and collects in momentary clouds above the beer
glasses. It permeates the hair & clothes, napkins
& cloths; it encloaks the sugars, salts and idle pens,
and tickles & stings the nostrils and glassy eyes.

My hazy thoughts are tussled by the ceiling fan while I
fumble for the asher to drop peppered dust from the cigarette
sprinkling the tabletop on the way. I finger the pen
and watch the universe dissolve into the café.
The very air condenses beading droplets on the napkin
and releasing the golden bubbles rising from the beer.

Some calming truth derives from each swallow of beer.
It is I, who writes order from verbal chaos; and I
who creates shreds from every finely pressed napkin.
My control radiates concentrically from each tap on the cigarette
and extends in its expanding arcs to the walls of the café.
The echo buzzes and vibrates the awakening pen.

From amid the doubts and tears, my confused eyes open
to see well beyond the lethargic blur from the beer.
They pierce the dim air and see the radiant aura of the café
outlining & explaining the occupants within. The observing eye
understands the masked wrinkles and the nervous fingering of cigarettes.
It senses the voluminous exhale and the textured landscape of the napkin.

It is only now that I can account for this Bailey’s Café.
With an empty glass of beer and a final drag on the cigarette,
I allow the timid pen to mar poetry on the fresh napkin.
[Check out other original poems here.]