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Robert Okaji

When to Say Goodbye


If all goes well it will never happen.

The dry grass in the shade whispers


while the vines crunch underfoot,

releasing a bitter odor. A year ago


I led my dog to his death, the third

in five years. How such counting


precedes affection, dwindles ever

so slowly, one star winking out after


another, till only the morning gray

hangs above us, solemn, indefinite.


Voiceless. If I could cock my head

to howl, who would understand? Not


one dog or three, neither mother nor

mentor, not my friend’s sister nor her


father and his nephews, the two boys

belted safely in the back seat. No.


I walk downhill and closer to the creek,

where the vines are still green.


In the shade of a large cedar, a turtle

slips into the water and eases away.

Robert Okaji poems

 Robert Okaji lives in Texas. The author of the chapbook If Your Matter Could Reform,his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Posit, Shantih, Platypus Press, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, High Window, Panoply, Eclectica, Into the Void, Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art,and elsewhere, and may also be found at his blog,

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