Sleetmagazine.com

Volume 10 • Number 1 • Summer 2018

Robert Okaji

Before We Knew
Scarecrow Ascends
A Step Closer

 

Before We Knew

All thought of consequence
melted with that first touch
of tongue to skin, no respite
to be found in that heat,

no shade at all. I recall
hitching a ride later with a
German couple who lit up
and passed the joint without

asking, and after their
Cinquecento sputtered away,
I walked down to the bar at the
waterfront for an espresso and

to watch the lights spark along
the bay.  A few times a week
I'd see a boat putter in and tie up,
and the one-armed man would

display his catch or a carton
of bartered Lucky Strikes, but
not this night. The moon
weighed heavy on my shoulders

as I trudged home, remembering
the way you’d smiled and said,
from some place I'd never
witnessed before, come here,

now, as if I could have said no and
turned around, as if another urge
could have inserted itself
in that moment, in that life, ever.

Scarecrow Ascends

Fixed yet not immobile, I watch bits of me drift
over the wavering grain, a diaspora of disparate
selves once gathered. Some openings are blessings.
Others encourage dispersion. Yesterday’s coat-breech
is now a hole from which I trickle. Think of politics,
and how the tiniest crack may expand and engulf
its body, how one lie gains heft through repetition
at the expense of truth, driving fear. And to what
end? More wealth by exclusion? Power? Everything
dissipates. Even those mountains looming over
state houses, even the sun and its gravity, even your
idols and their power over reason. Had I no purpose
I would gladly rip open these rags and beg the wind
to carry me high, piece by fragment, to mingle with
the clouds and the rains to come and the refracted
light from afar, perhaps to glimpse something greater
ahead. Perhaps merely to dispel, to become undone.

A Step Closer

The difference in here
and there, a step closer to infinity
swallowing the clover and wild onion.

Not knowing, you shift purpose to intent.

Following the sun,
the flower sips light all day,
pausing only when I walk between.

Robert Okaji lives in Texas. The author of three chapbook collections, two micro-chapbooks and a mini-digital chapbook, his work has also appeared or is forthcoming in such publications as West Texas Review, Crannóg, Reservoir, Otoliths, Panoply, The High Window, Oxidant Engine and elsewhere. Visit his blog at https://robertokaji.com.