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.
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.
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.
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.