Philip Byron Oakes

Manu Propria

One giggle shy of a hundred light comedies parallel parking the plexus to the curb. Stillborn to run from what they’re trying to say. As if every echo had a footstep to come home to. Between the spontaneous and the buried for the duration. Fantastical suggestions of missing wealth dissecting a mote in a stampede of iotas, as those with an eye for the little things catch drift. The unrelenting inroads made by deserts into bedtime stories, freezing the sweat of good soldiers at night. The tone of the sky on the days between the reasons, the tomorrows come to put the colors into a perspective you can see. Catching hold of semantic handles to what can’t be said to make them laugh as they once did at Gog.

Canon’s Roar

Sample fat of the land chewed on
in the grinning to bear it. Subliminal
milk stunting spurts made in taking obvious
out for air. Vicar’s twitch when lying about
the time of the mayflies loitering. The
peripheral blinking red at proceedings in
caution. A hint of what’s to follow protocol
to grandma’s house in the herbaceous still
of night. Like smoke where there’s fire to
be had, in standing out from the crowd of
flickering hopes. The dusky dawn of humanity
in every breath. To live as if living were done
out of body, in searching only for a place from
which to see the entirety of it move. Anywhere
on its way to being breathless. In one’s own
manner of painting ceilings. Dolling up
the stratosphere. Shrinking, to keep the
expansion of the universe away.

Southern Oaks

Ragged rutabagas of a tall salad tale of days
eaten as if they were food for thinking it never
ends. A popular penalty for breathing deeply,
when the air is foul with presumptions of
breathlessness for goodness sake. Righted angles
taken past being fed enough to live, as if it were
summer all year long until it snows and all bets
are off the cliff in a flurry, an avalanche brought
down by a single voice reciting an alphabet for
strangers to the love of being buried in one’s
own. Implicit donations to the greater cause
of building a better matrix, through which the
children might poke their heads in getting where
they need to be the lion tamers, the yellowest
bananas in the cornucopia by the time the
story’s told in the million dollar gibberish of
better days. The charming diversions a
proper cul de sac affords those willing to
take the stroll for a companion as they go
and stay all the same.

Glass Bottoms

Narwhals with a point to make their signature feature,
the length of a nose’s probe into what the briny brew
has in store. A necklace with a dividend of dazzle putting
a shine to the soup, seducing the palates awash in what
the tides bring to bear. A pugnacious vanity of knowing
little but a passive posture taken for a life on the go. A
yoke with no ox but a will to proceed, in lapses absolved
of the regimen from the time to take the sloshy stage, for
a platform in which to sink beneath one’s skin, to find the
balance lost in juggling appetites for what the wind brings
the ocean to talk about. The elastic the rigid to rebound
from, in a tension at the surface from which the unicorns
can be plainly seen.


Veritable in the rueful sense imposed via subterfuge
in a tilt of autumn’s gray toward darkness. A tunnel
digging beneath a surface besmirched by a sense of
itself, etching patterns of behavior in the everyday
postponing the second coming of tomorrow. Putting
the morning at risk of losing yesterday, to
recriminations of the day before. The lapsed frontier
to a déjà vu of the ocean. All that could be if it
weren’t when it isn’t measured one way, but tallied
in another more likely to invite strangers into the
house. A glib flippancy into the catechism of a faith
in gravity, keeping time grounded in a belief it
never happens all at once.

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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