Philip Byron Oakes

Rented Hearts

At the risk of laughing at it being human
outside. The way it was in the cribbage
of the day. Picking pockets as prizewinners
in the regatta of sinking ships. Settling
the gradient of recline to the slosh in the
shallows as they speak. A twisting to the
story of the arm behind the back, of the
building trust in a way out of trouble.
Putting the forest back the way they found
it then lost it again, in the wilderness of a
stomach for how far the fall into pieces is.
The sky turning earthy in the ravings of the
dusk. Poised and vestigial. Stowaways the
light forgave the darkness gobbles up.


A sentimentally colonial pat on the head
stunting inquiries into any embarrassment
of riches

Any question of gangrene changing hands,
motions tabled to feed variably eclectic
appetites, for swelling margin’s murk
with the persuasions of music

A marching tune to the engine driving a
commerce gingerly held in contempt

Pushed as well as pulling its deceit of
objects into play, as obstacles to
destinies imposed upon others

Ficklings of the fate to call your own


Facile adjectives draping the poker faced for inclusion
among the well dressed. An episodic fruitcake fit to be
foundered into more easily manageable portions of the
roar. It makes them less likely to take up musical comedy
as a forte. Corruption as a mere hobby with so much to
steal, from so many who have it coming to this. Cruel
and usual occurrences, supplementing the smell of
bacon in the kitchen. The darning of wool over eyes
in a delicious adagio piloting islands to the heartland.
Airtight wearing team colors into character for the ides,
as a drop in a splash turning tides of a history, already
written to absolve the living of their roles in the end.
A silken indemnity for liabilities incurred, at tangents
to the being where it matters how you look. If the
hours roll by the book. The ships dock in harbors
where the waters run thick beneath the surface
unbroken for years. A litany of needs as many as
lost as in the listing found upon inquiry, lurking
tendered in codes of body language. Critiques
to rarefy the air we breathe.

At a Standstill Glance

A pithy sense of oneself. Shorthanded.
A clumsily placed fulcrum, coaxing the
engine to do the work. Rupture’s text
to read a scar assumes the risk. Sanding
over captions to the fall in the price of
a Rome of your own. Cosmetic runs
through the lien holdings of an alphabet
in convalescence. Asphalt orchards of a
hypothetical rapture, bridging the schisms
at the sight of archival footage, holding
the past still so the refugees might run
for their lives. The border regions
that come and go leaving only
the recipe for here I am behind.

Philip Byron Oakes is a poet living in Austin, Texas. His work has appeared in numerous journals including E-ratio, Moria, Blue & Yellow Dog, Otoliths, et al. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, Cactus Land (77 Rogue Letters) 2009 and Sard (Otoliths) 2010.
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