If We Burn

Such power in these words. Read more by Robert Okaji at robertokaji.com.

O at the Edges


If We Burn

What flares instead to replace our
privileged nights? And which

assemblage of words could reorder these
deaths into comprehension,

change I can’t breathe from epitaph
to actuated plea for help?

Are words ever enough?
Can we stack our indifference and fear

into a mile-high pyre, and torching it
watch them rise to nothingness,

disappearing through the clouds
into the streaming light of cold, dark stars?

Raise your hands and sing. Blow softly
upon the ember. Inhale and recall.

Do you still feel? Will you breathe?
Every fire needs oxygen.

* * *

“If We Burn” first appeared on this blog in December, 2014. It’s also included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.


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Minimalist Challenge Day 5

Five items for day 5:

Odds and ends–a dot to dot book, a deviled egg dish, an art book, a bottle for oils, and a cosmetics bag. The only thing these items have in common is that they must go.

I’m always baffled by the items I’ve thought worthy of purchasing. That egg dish is ugly beyond imagining, but it was on clearance. The oils bottle might’ve been a gift. I’m fairly certain I bought the art book at a thrift shop, along with the cosmetics bag. I have nary a clue about the dot to dot book. Truly, a mind boggler.

I’m feeling lighter by the day.

Peace, people!

Minimalist Challenge Day 4

Arts and crafts are not my thing, but for some reason there are a great many doodads and thingamajigs scattered about Doright Manor that would be found in one’s local crafts store. Since today is day four of the minimalist challenge and I had exactly four rolls of ribbon, I thought it the perfect day to rid myself of them.

Four rolls of ribbon that I’ve never used, but that are not brand new. Hence, I believe I might’ve purchased these at a garage sale thinking that I’d create something cute or use them to make a gift prettier. Instead, they’ve crouched, hidden among all my other lonely arts and crafts items, waiting with baited breath for me to notice them. Alas, they were relegated to a spot in my home where cobwebs dwell.

Goodbye ribbon. May you go to a good home where you’ll serve some greater purpose.

Peace, people.

Who Is This Man?

Have you ever looked at your spouse and thought, “What the hell?” Maybe he or she has done something so out of character that you are briefly taken aback. Perhaps they’ve said something that makes you question your entire relationship.

Several years ago Studly Doright and I were seated at a booth in a restaurant in Champaign, Illinois. When the waiter took our drink order, Studly said, “I’ll have a gin and tonic.”

I almost fell out of my chair. You see, Studly rarely drinks, and when he does, he drinks beer. I felt like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Who was this guy sitting across from me and what had he done with my Studly? I was as close to having an out of body experience as I’ve ever been.

When our drinks arrived at the table I watched carefully as he took one sip, then another. Studly was actually drinking a gin and tonic. What other secrets was he keeping?

The gin and tonic period lasted roughly one summer. I bought limes and good gin and became a regular little bartender. Then abruptly Studly ended his affair with the drink and I watched the limes shrivel. Life was back to normal. I was the drinker and Studly was the sober one.

So for several years now, there have been no surprises. Until today, when I opened up a shopping bag from a local department store and discovered this:

A purple shirt. Studly, my guy who sticks to blacks and grays and greens, bought a purple shirt. Again, I feel like I’m in The Twilight Zone. What’s next? Will he begin reading the classics? Will he start quoting Shakespeare? I’m shaken to my core. God help us.

Peace, people.

Minimalist Challenge Day 3

None of these things is just like the others.

A ball of twine, an empty souvenir cup, and a fake flower are leaving my life today. I believe the cup and the flower have been taking up space at Doright Manor for four years, having come into my possession on an anniversary trip to the beach.

As for the ball of twine, I haven’t a clue. Had I planned on tying Studly Doright up for sexy shenanigans? Was I going to truss a turkey? It’s a mystery that I doubt will ever be solved.

Some things are better left to the imagination.

Peace, people!

Minimalist Challenge Day 2

Today I have to rid myself of two items in keeping with the rules of the minimalist challenge group I’ve joined on Facebook. Yesterday I had planned to take a green bath rug that didn’t match anything I owned and hadn’t been used in years to a charity run thrift shop, but someone in the group said she needed the rug, so I’m sending it to her.

For today I’m cleansing my home of this container of unsharpened colored pencils and a random piece of purple gingham fabric. I bought the pencils a couple of years ago unaware that they weren’t pre-sharpened. I don’t own a sharpener and don’t plan on buying one. Okay, that makes me an idiot, I know. As for the fabric, I have absolutely no idea why it was in my arts and crafts supply box. Aliens? The GOP? Who knows?

Technically I suppose I could count the pencils individually and use them later in the challenge, say, on the 48th day of February (!) or so. But they were sold as a set and thus count as one item.


Yesterday as I exited the Publix grocery store on Ocala Street in Tallahassee I saw a little boy, maybe a seven-year-old, playing on the sidewalk directly in front of the store. I spoke to him, something innocuous like, “Hey pal,” but he didn’t respond.

I looked around, but didn’t see any adults nearby. He seemed to be keeping close to the store, so I went on to my car. No sooner had I packed my groceries into my car than I saw a little blur dash behind me. It was the little boy running hell bent for leather through the busy parking lot towards an even busier street. This 61-year-old, out of shape grandmother took off after him.

Just as he reached the intersection a car turned into the Publix parking lot and with inches to spare missed hitting him. Without hesitating the child swerved back into the parking lot and just stopped, standing stock still. The car’s driver, a young college student, pulled over and the student’s mom got out and took the child’s hand.

I had begun calling 9-1-1, but so had she. Now that I was close to him I realized he most likely was autistic. Leaving the child in her capable hands I walked back to the store and found a manager and a clerk looking out into the parking lot. Figuring they might be looking for the little guy I asked and sure enough they’d been approached by an anxious mom who’d lost her kid while shopping. So I took them out to where the woman still held the child by the hand.

We watched as mom and child were reunited and the woman who had held his hand while I ran up to the store kind of fell apart for a minute. So did I.

“I thought my son was going to hit him,” she cried on my shoulder.

“Thank God for young reflexes,” I said, patting her on the back while shaking her son’s hand.

I honestly thought I was going to see this little guy go under the wheels of a car. Once back into my own vehicle I sat shaking before I could even start it up. His angels were working overtime yesterday.

And now, the Beatles. How’s that for a segue?


Minimalist Challenge

I joined a minimalist challenge group on Facebook. Our goal is to declutter our lives by getting rid of a specific number of items every day in February. On day one, we have to get rid of one item, on day two, two items, and so on. By the end of February each participant will have discarded a total of 424 items. I think. I might’ve forgotten to carry a two in one or more of my calculations. I know there’s a formula that might’ve made the process simpler, but my algebra days are far behind me.

Participants can send items to the trash bin, donate them, or give them to friends as gifts. Additionally, no items that are merely “wants” can be purchased during the month unless an additional four items per want are discarded. There are other rules, but these are the main ones.

Frankly, I’m not sure I have what it takes to complete this challenge. I can see that the first 10 to 15 days will be fairly easy. Just sitting in my recliner next to an end table stacked with papers, magazines, and coupons I can see at least two dozen items that need new homes. I guess if I get stumped for items to dispose of I can send Studly off to live with the gypsies.

Wish me luck. You may all be sick of this before the month is over. I’ll try not to be too obnoxious. Who am I kidding? Obnoxious is my middle name.

Peace, people!

Item #1: a green bath rug is headed to a nearby charity-run thrift store.