While You Slept

While you slept in that distant room,

I drifted through gauze and warm tides

into the shallows, comforted,

as you battered ice floes all night 

before waking, finally, in angry half-light

to sparrow chatter, knowing

that tomorrow would bring more

bitter hours, more cold coffee 

served with theories 

enmeshed in self-appeasement

and the pride of always being right,

even when you’re not.

Surrounded by Myself I Remain 

This body tempers itself in coughing fits

and lust, in nose-blowing and the itch

to caress soft flesh. Water gurgles down 

the gutters. Our cat sits at the window 

watching the rain, fascinated. I can’t 

differentiate the pressures in my chest — 

which urgent tide requires suppression, 

what demands release — and though 

my eyelids keep sliding shut, something 

stronger pries them back open. How 

to explain this state? I will never be young

again. Gravity tugs heavier. Drugs

misbehave. Joints and muscles ache

in perpetuity, reminding me of life  

and choices made badly through inertia 

and fear. But love prospers in the idea,

the knowing, and when I open my hand

on your warm back seasons flow past,

savory bits and icy nodules alike, and 

I answer the call for more. Always 

more, nose and cheek pressed against 

your hair, my voice lost in you, with you.

Robert Okaji is a half-Japanese Texan poet living in Indiana. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Evergreen Review, Vox Populi, Threepenny Review, One Art and elsewhere. 

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