Philip Byron Oakes

Now is Here

Deep fried coagulants stall traffic,
in sacred heart school Five drachmas please
Three swinging doors to your left…the other, the other left
Pitiably jutted jaw launching ambushes on imported turf

Amateur oglers pitching tents, as far as they would fly
into the footnotes Victory at sea

The arctic pains, where ice is king 13 o’clock
Tall grass is the next to go Tawdry curriculum pervades
the slobbered utterance spawned over coffee and smoke

A police force is what you make of it
A calliope and a library lip
No, the tainted olives won’t succumb to the rites of passage,
the furtherance of the lesser for the most part

That’s for what’s left to say
The lemon trees posturing as canopies
The forthright burying cousins in the yard
Immaculate mud bath The gondoliers
are coming The multiple choice questions are gone

Amerikan Polka

Asthmatic rhetoric urbanely conquistador grating cheese. And then frogmen legs like Betty Grable, mottled to complement the rajah of la-di-da, no longer clicky clacking their porcelain heels. It’s true. A bluster of belief in the city’s faint odor of lizard droppings, wafting like a third world carnival ride, into the anticlimactic sphere of what’s left of Schenectady. An oncologist plotting the arc of the covenant to breathe. The getting wet. Swimming language with loopholes. Beyond the pale of anorexic teenagers. Tinhorn anesthesiologists, promoting amphetamines at a birthday party for inclement weather; not the copilot, the time of day written on the palm of his hand, nor the unkempt cosmetician leaving elbow room for the beauty of life. The too loose to be worn in public falling into craters of suggestion. A parked car on the interstate luring Floridian playboys to yodel biblical text into the frantic naivete of early evening. Tegucigalpa and a toucan on a stick. A kamikaze refrigerator, bringing the whole house down to where the brittle people live, like like is love, and love is a house haunted with incompatible chocolates, and a passenger pigeon on the breath of an inimitable missionary wearing his hair just so.

One Way to Tell

Perpendicular crimes wearing broad
daylight. Evaporative eye pool averting
run-ins with the law of diminishing
returns. Stopping for directions to heal
the way homeward, through a glaze
of labyrinths undaunted. Life mumbled
into the fix of being free.

Sedentary action heroes sitting on the
denouement for the time it takes from
time to be the other. Wanted in the
having been mistaken for only you.


separately sequel to one of a kind of the sort you might expect to see riding zebras into the great beyond the right to appeal the ending in an ellipse on an airfield humming with the potentiality of flight of the tinkerbelle variety into a sparkly wake of the essentially grounded by the mindset of the ancients strutting along through the stratosphere with calipers taking gauge of clouds long suspected of scooping with a ladle from celestial funds obscuring the wealth of cruel summer skies biting into the horizon’s depth of detail as to the suffering sold as sympathy so that it might never stray into the extinct as imagined in glossy photos of the prince and his entourage dispensing memorabilia with a flair befitting the archaic in the annals of years uncounted for what they were in retrospect crashing down on the table with the aplomb of well considered apples making a mockery of the fruit salad arrayed as jewelry of the fall into murky origins where things can stay that way forever

Tabula Rasa

Readymade from nothing’s cousin, overdressed in finery ill disposed
to outfitting the naked with the deniably apropos. What not to wear
without seeming worn by. An overreaching coat of arms,
embracing black holes in the text of a crossfingered promise, to be where
nearly is to dearly is to close enough. Downwind of a proofreader’s revision, suiting a history to mend an enigma of the everyday. A quest
for nothing as found to be what
would have been, by never having gone there. By
simply putting something in its place.

That Certain

The fate of failures to lift the hooves necessary in constructing a gallop. A prancing canter, a carrot for a dog as he chases the pony show of hands. A puddle of rare bones picked clean on the good china of collective perception. As the federation of nobodies go about their business, much as if the circus was in the unreachable part of town, but still sending the smoke signals of the calliope to children. A swagger to the podium, to explain the necessity of the weathered in the virgin islands; much to the chagrine of fumble fingered midwives, consecrating the disposability of a generation, to a lie of malevolent adrenaline squeezing the pulp from the fruit of foundered loins.

A Window Seat

Rubik’s circle of friends. The creative fire of elevator music, on the descent, attempting to burn the whole building down. A sanguine drunkard in a chaise lounge, singing his heart out through his pug nose, to humor the guardian of the rights of the children. Diagnosing the dead as cold. Autumn’s gray tweed dressing a debacle, for giving thanks to the disguises, supplied buffoons at moments of automated rapture. A practiced blasphemy, wearing the bathrobe of reality to a hootnanny in the belly of the whale.

Whoever Answers the Door

The gritty diplomacy of various shades of vertigo
choreographing a fall from favor, into a net of
simple understandings, as to how far the falling
can carry the show. A dollar store tangent to a
fortune found beneath the skin crawling to
mommy. Deep in the heart of shallow waters
rising to occasions, of the whirlwind scuttling
a moment of stillness. A rhapsodic fatigue
calling a night a day, and vice versa the world
goes round a bend, in a river of time drowning
all those on board. A gentle census of heads
lost settling the west for less. The count of
the noggins gone logging the forest for
something trees can’t give. Sooner or loiter.
To those whom. A stasis stretches like a
potato field, feeding the need of the
motionless to sink their tendrils into
squirming soil. Even as the silence bends to
the will of the people.

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.

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