Philip Byron Oakes

Cold Hands
A hawkish caress furrowing a gash dividing limbs from lives of the party. From a pedestal of justice starching salutes to bannered turf. Smoldering with ambience to give the morning color. To corral the meaning stretched teetering to the beat, the twitch in homage to a trauma. A simple verity, in lieu of falling short of making sense do its dance for the people. To better balance a juggler’s gift with a hand in changing hats, flooding the margins to the rearing of contingencies in the nursery, homunculi in the boomtowns clustered in the glorious dwarfspeak of tomorrow. Or else the nothingness everyone is running from. Through the variously addled fronds of the topiaries, mistaken for a wilderness on the harsh expanse of the portico extending its greetings to us all.


Room enough to grow tomatoes
in the imagination and eat meat
in the slaughterhouse downstairs.
Mending wrinkles in the time
needed. An olympiad of baby
steps stalking the value to a
therapy of toddles. Circling shapes
of things, to come clean of complicity
in storming prison walls. Skipping
the overture for the silence to
follow form in the pulpit.
Conflated to lend flavor its
texture to what takes the
tide as invitation. The beaching
as bastard prayer to come


A showing of hands at the speed of sleight.
The breadth of the lurking within vs. the
depth, hinging on an ante of heart and
soul wagered on a game of chance to see
what never changes. Fingers skewed to
ratify a fumble, by which the people judge
the weight of a turtle in a shell game. The
temperature of vitriol in a test tube,
warming to the task of heating cool
corridors, ventilating a castle of good old
days. To fertilize the next crop of up and
comers to the faith the rain will come, to
those who need it most to quench the
yearning to float, if only for a second,
after having stood for all this time. To be
counted at least as one among the many
suitors for the hand held still over the
fire consuming all but the essence, the
memory without a face, to having been
there when the heat rose and with it a
throng of paws in acclamation, a willing
assent to the deception burning to
serve as truth to those in short need of
such. But only to have a hand to be
trusted in holding onto whatever it is,
that keeps them warmer than they
need to be in being so cool to the

Philip Byron Oakes is a poet living in Austin, U.S.A. His work has appeared in Blackbox Manifold, E•ratio, Moria, and Blue & Yellow Dog among other journals. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, Cactus Land (77 Rogue Letters) 2009 and Sard (Otoliths) 2010.
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