Philip Byron Oakes

Extraneous Flowers

Literal parentheses walling off the dwarves
of provincial English as they build their ladders
in the dark. A ruthless color scheme to blind the
world to the deliciousness bending the mores
of a summer stroll. The cruise missiles of a direct
question honing in on the brainpan of an infant
to the world of lights and colors. Mewling
wagoneers showing the conductor the juiciest
parts of the train as we know it, to be hurtling
at speeds once thought to be the very speed
at which dogs and cats would see the coming
of the lord. The exquisite lack of rhyme to the
reason all that’s lost comes back to haunt
the festivities of the harvest. The right long
time bottlenecked in a stubborn swallow
of what tastes as it never tasted before.
What moves the mountains to majesty,
then back down to bumps in the road
as the cheerleaders wave their pom poms
to the sky.


An intimate gathering of coincidence catching
a pastiche on the fly. Excellent dissuasions
deterring the obvious from appearing when
expected to show. A hand, in the making the
invisible what it is. Or isn’t, as only the hand
knows. A fat chance on the straight and
narrow filling out an enigma’s britches. The
feel of vellum, carrying the word as if the
weight was more than paper could bear. All
light but no heat of the moment best bronzed
in autumn leaves. In the wee hours of dust
slowly amounting to what is explained away
as sand. Sworn to eulogy of the unknown
most of all. When shouting out what would
have been as it could have been if it weren’t
for what chances are.

Trusting Instincts to Sleep

Carbon dating juveniles for a fertile decorum raising antes
in a garden on the lawn. Following your mind made up to
look like a silhouette. A frumptious amalgam spurning the
one and only for a slow drizzle of spices, narrowing the nth
down to a chair with a cushion for pushing the errancies
away. Pulling bullets for evidence in a trial by litmus. A silence
insulated by chatter soaring to heights unheard of.
Over the meridian and into the amenities in keeping with a
rhythm to the heart where light ventures wary. Escorting
phantom pains past the prodigal and into the prophetic
as the sirens sing a familiar ditty for a half life invested
in sleep. A legless notion of great speed attained, in
slowing down to smell the offal for the molasses that
it is. Seeing no weevils in the cotton until the die
is cast and the fabric spun to gypsy dust.

Splendorous Grass

Fertilize odd moments with the patience necessary. The other foot, more suitably anchored to measure strides made in exhuming the foot in the door. To curb the appetite for mango in the arctic. In the sixth sense of knowing the less the more is learned. One in front of the other performing a parody of leading the way. A last tour of the mansion sorely purchased to house the weaklings of sleep. Vapors woven into shirts to wear in who can’t help but wonderland. At a distance prescribed in denial of what they’re hiding in the wide and open spaces back home.

Spaces & Places

Thick as fig vendors getting the scoop
on a shovel having dug itself a hole.
Umbilical cord of a parachute ripped
from headlines at birth,
of a prime number divisible by
anyone who might wander by and
by. But through and through an anxious
twist in unraveling mysteries
given away, away to live as if every
minute held the one on either side
responsible for the collapse of
time. A bell jar rung to
startle those who plug away at
filling said hole in story, explaining
the depths to which the missing
can go.

Philip Byron Oakes is a poet living in Austin, Texas. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Otoliths, Moria, E ratio and Blue & Yellow Dog. He is the author of Cactus Land (77 Rogue Letters), a volume of poetry. A new collection, Sard, is being published by Otoliths later on this year.
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