Scarecrow Dreams by Robert Okaji

Boo! Spooky considerations here in more fine examples of the persona poem. Big thanks to Robert Okaji for allowing me to reprint his poems: Scarecrow Dreams, first published in Eclectica 2017 and Scarecrow Remembers, first published in The High Window, 2016.

Robert Okaji reading Scarecrow Dreams
Scarecrow Dreams 

If by night I move without aid, 
what then? Precious flesh, precious 
bone, never mine to lose - the difference 
between nothingness and no thing. A
pity that my friends fly at the merest 
movement, but when the air’s breath
stills, they sing and rattle among the
grain, writing their days in song
and footprints, seeking the available
on the ground. And what scrolls lower
than the sound of sunflowers turning? 
The laughing daughter runs around
my lattice spine, scattering joy like so
many seeds, and when my hollow
fingers clench, the earth quivers, or
so it seems. Then midnight returns
and I disengage and stalk about, 
scaring rodents and their predators,
hooting in harmony with the owls
reveling in the night air, remembering
the holy shirt, a yellow glove, corn 
silk’s gleam at noon and the warmth 
of your fingers against my burlap skin. 
I do not breathe, I say, but I exist. By
morning what joins me but the tune 
of yet another bird, unseen, melodious, 
the pulse of morning’s dew. Eternity. 
How my straw tongue longs to sip it.

Robert Okaji reading Scarecrow Remembers
Scarecrow Remembers

I recall nothing before my eyes captured 
the horizon and the looped whorl of night’s
afterglow, the first crow-plumes
crossing from left to right, awakened to
everything but my history and what
preceded the morning. By midday 
I had mastered the secret language of 
corvids and learned to interpret the wind’s 
folly. When the sun eased below the hills, 
I divined the angle of declination and tilted
my head to true north, thinking this is my 
calling, to point the way. But how few
of us bottle our life’s cause to sip as
needed. Later my dark friends whispered
the truth, and we laughed among the
rustling stalks as I pointed the way
not to the Alhambra or even Wichita,
but to the choicest kernels. Placed here
for one purpose, another claimed me.
I am the future without past, the present
decaying, tomorrow’s joke, impermanent
and shadowed. I am anomaly, risen.
Read also "Scarecrow Dances" by Robert here.

Robert Okaji lives in Indiana. He holds a BA in history, served without distinction in the U.S. Navy, once won a goat-catching contest, and is the author of multiple chapbooks, including the 2021 Etchings Press Poetry Prize-winning My Mother’s Ghost Scrubs the Floor at 2 a.m. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Book of Matches, Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, Buddhist Poetry Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Purifying Wind, Wildness, easing the edges: a collection of everyday miracles and elsewhere.


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