Robert Okaji lives in Texas and his work has appeared in such publications as Shadowtrain, Extract(s) and Prime Number Magazine, among others. He is the author of the chapbook If Your Matter Could Reform (Dink Press, 2015) and the micro-chapbook You Break What Falls (Origami Poems Project, 2015)

         P A L I N O D E ( H A N D S , H O U R S , L I G H T)




Consider the hand, its breadth, its history in mathematics and limitation. 27 bones, two strokes. Distal phalanges spanning gaps.  You turn and wave at the winnowed tunnel and the drops feathering the glass. The sinister endures tasks of life; right blesses power and assuages guilt. Presuming inflection, I use both hands to tally the absent. Later as we drive through the checkpoint, our way greased by fluency in the language of coin, heaven’s oblique arch recedes and I praise the passage of hours.

I praise the passage of hours measured in terms unknown to some: beyond two, many. Returning, we see streets guided by lampposts, bent trees and the uneven drizzle of sidewalk mendicants blurring through their days. A hanged man’s dessicated hand (pickled in salt and the urine of man, woman, dog and mare) forms the Hand of Glory, unlocking any portal the bearer desires opened: a direct tool of consciousness. Lacking the fat of a gibbeted felon, I cannot properly light the way.

I cannot properly light the way, but we  observe facets in differing terms: the hand, lips, and mouth claim more neural innervation than the rest of the body combined, perhaps a consequence of the primacy of making and sounding. Candles smolder and yield to shadow through dancing hand stories. The wave of acknowledgment, a finger across the lips, the open hand proclaiming innocence, expressing, grasping, creating, constraining, releasing. Extinguishing.

R O B E R T    O K A J I

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