Philip Byron Oakes

As Easy As

Sullen diplomats playing Parcheesi, with lives of the abstracted to a number between zero and ten. The glue of earth and sky, distilled in the contours of a building set to music promoting the rhythms to a season of one. Four scoring plenty. Five will get you malaria, on the tundra of another day at the office, spent calibrating the hat size of presumable Livingstons taking in the ambience with an umbrella. Three rounding to the odd folktale, of expeditions from the woodwork, meant to manifest resolutions of eternal doubt as to the inching miles of true measure. Six will get nine lives lived in memory of the smell of bread unleavened, over the physics course of a factoid, cutting a farmer’s swath through the greater lies of the time. As two times eight makes pristine the eventuality of a detergent, sending bubbles as emissaries in lucky sevens to the echo that counts.

The Line Between

The previous takes a backseat, the last
in line taking center stage,
on a bicycle built for two. Four minutes
into the smell of smoke.
Apologies carry the weight of a
generation up the stairs. Cats bark
at the coming of the Lord. Whereas
a semblance sees the old shames get buried,
before the rent balloons. A
tumultuous cuddling accounts. Tongues
recant a coo. Limpid is where the
shadows lean. The brunt to be mastered
in a slouch of pilgrims. Bossa novas,
of the clubfooted, leaving a legacy of turgid
rhythms stroking Mrs. Beasley’s brow. The
thin ice of hosannas catching the
elephant man by surprise. Chinks,
in the persona, spinning bridges too far. A
long wedded wife, blowing kisses from a
miraculous driveway. The winds digress.
Blackened grays. Purity, clabbered in the
equatorial doldrums snaking their way up
the coast. Colors, coded and shrill at a
distance. Ruby lips reciting the school menu,
in the mezzo-soprano of beach bunnies
splashing away gravity’s curse. A
desperate paralysis keeps the squirming
to a minimum. Severed phantoms
teaching pain. Blunted caress. Darkling
boogaloo, threshing fallow whole,
expansive, in the least.


A vigorous polyphony and then. Juxtaposed in solitude. An inch from a mile after mile. Run. Toward. Waiting capsizes, and the scuba divers find a sense of purpose. Depth, where water is vulnerable. Wizened toadies backstroke for posterity’s wreath, only to find. A tympani of touchés. A hopeless glimmer. Two notches on a stick, just above the mean tide. The various meets the sundry at high noon. Impossible meets the standard, by which the weather is judged competent, to rule the moods of the postman. The lugubrious frown on the clown, on the postage stamp, stuck to its guns. The toll booths ring. What’s what is rarely where it should be, but what’s not is ensconced, on the wall that is the wall of which the bridge builders whisper. The sweetness of nothings, purged of saccharine, in the corridors where echoes pay a toll. Where the shallows bristle, at a voice from beneath the breath of a diva.

Philip Byron Oakes' work has appeared in Sawbuck, The Hamilton Stone Review, Horse Less Review, among others, and he has work scheduled for publication in Euphemism, Snow Monkey and My Name is Mud.

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