Philip Byron Oakes


The lethal blow is struck in first copper then bronze,
iron before steel cuts swaths through strangers, to
the taste of a cutting edge on the competition.
Assiduously sculpting scenarios, no matter how
meager the standards by which victory is measured.
Bringing it all to a head invariably severed, for having
ventured out on a limb of thought too precarious to
shelter the huddled. Forming a circle from sides taken
off square of a number dodging zero like a dancer on
the sly. Nothingness wedged into all too much. The
this to that and the other creeping into a background
of melody on which a teetering world depends.
Keeping time for the squeeze into tidy frames of mind.
An enlightening as to the scope conceding breadth, to
make a point take its place. Serve its notice of
presumptions left to linger in the cold. Any manner of
means the ancients might only have dreamt of as
opening the spigots of a flow, fodder for the crops to
cull their nutrients through the autumnal swagger of
a brooding god. Opening whole caricatures to
surgically incising the grid, redundantly ultimate
probes for a heart beating the odds, charting its arc
to the quest for fewer recriminations in bleeding
one’s neighbor for the verity.

One of a Kind to Strangers

In as much if not more than whether or not at all.
Epitomized by degree till nothing but, if and and are
commingled in the charity of the moment. As an auxiliary
if not principal cog’s mesh of the mind for what awaits,
critiques but never casts aspersions out to sea of homily.
An altogether different way of seeing past and through the
ostensible, for the rarefied pickings siphoned from the
façade of soft landings. Casting digressions into leading
roles. Micromanaging to prevail in the larger sense of what
p’s and q’s add up to. Eschew and chew your words
carefully, before swallowing what you have to say. Held as
breath past its prime. Dining on those pronouns that serve
their sentence without a whimper. Sizing up the steeped
in vagaries for what never quite ends at the edge. Drifting
out on an ocean of not one by one but all at once you see.

Locally Available

Bonded to what’s missing in a manner of speaking
of what isn’t and never will be. A hard won amnesia
whittled to fit preconceptions. Of a piece pawned
for reasonable dividend to stubbing a toe on the
reality sold in stores. If only for the moments leading
up to then over the truth. It isn’t easy separating the
whims from the follies. Bearing a likeness to the altar.
When if we had more clock we could call it a day. In
time’s way of both flying and dragging the river for
clues. To doctor bruises lending color to breaking
news of the heart. A suppleness of slipping towards
as from with little distinction, splicing the story for
the eavesdrop into place. And then yesterday arrives
like a bombshell and the people speak in tongues
you’ve never heard before. A trickle into a pool of
presumptions, piloting a train of thought into the
station. Into the heyday of tit for tat in an accent
from the old country shooing flies to a better life
next door. Slippery snippets of the subliminal
sliding safely into a slurring of ritual liturgy
into form.

Mort’s Last Name

Edible confessions dined on in retreat to what it means
to have been there. As the story spirals to a tune on loan
for good behavior, long thought a lost art until one day
a light comes on. Portrayed in shades of phrase. Celibate
hucksters jumping conjugal claims on a touch of madness,
a sense of sham to the passage through the chrysalis into
the fold. In language not from around here, but near
enough to know the worm is always turning. Burning to
remedy an inversion of pyramids, in debits wearing black
to the funeral. A way out of the way of the coming to be.
Serving the first cause which in effect, exposes true colors
to the elements. Of those there at that peculiar angle to
the sun that fateful day. Left reeling at nightfall. Like when
you first see the opportunity jump like a leviathan out of
the water. From a sea of doubt, surrounding the man who
was an island after all. The pleading of cases from the
bleachers as the autumn spectaculars fizzle into winter.
Feeding into out of need to know what’s going bump
enough, to squeeze the gargantuan out of hiding from
themselves, in a mirror on the way it ought to be. Going a
long way towards explaining the great train robbery away.
Addressing without a house on which to hang a number,
from the hat tipped to those who watch the horses closest.
As any mild mannered reporter might simply stutter to the
point at the end of a finger, leading the charge towards the
headline at the end of the world. Out of nowhere with
every nook within reach. Squeezing between the passing
of fancies into the coming of the great beyond.

Philip Byron Oakes is a poet living in Austin, Texas. His third volume of poetry, ptyx and stone, (white sky ebooks) was released in 2013.
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