Issue 9: Philip Byron Oakes

Catching Yourself

A syrupy palaver left over schmoozy moon,

shedding honey on what’s said in jest. Deep

in the mystery of what it means to be reluctant

when asking, for just enough air to breathe a

word in support, of the nearly voided in the

grander scheme, enveloping qualms and

quibbles like clouds a head, lost looking for

equivalents to what it’s never felt. Coated with

entendre saved for later. Incensed by the smell

cloying perfume’s inroads. Keeping the sugar

bowl full of little inquisitions of the sour, for

having puckered lips renouncing the saccharine

coattails of a ghost. Never thought of, in passing

over rivers caught up in a lazy rush to the sea,

not even when the rains come knocking down

doors to perception, of plain ground as paradise,

to see the sun break through a plot line of floods

to come with many fingers grasping at the land,

until it’s slowly swallowed, whole like a biscuit

feeding the fury by which it’s consumed and

having chosen not to breathe, a faint memory

of the taste escorts hunger to preeminence in

the hierarchy of breathe or don’t eat too much

before dinner.


Alibis secreted from testimony to the effects

of living largely inured to the whereabouts of

yin and yang. The one stride made to believe

in the other enough to say, that who was where

when all but nothing happened, but a shadow

stalking proceedings unseen and only barely felt

putting feet to the floor. Substance to the

buoyancy of our being caught somewhere in

between, being victim and witness to the

everyday, wearing a blur to disguise its insidious

proclivities, for breaking the wills of even the

most stalwart sojourners on their ambles into

the mystic. Detours into the aplomb of being

who only they can be and even then but for


What Will It Be?

What’s what falls flat for what’s not but what’s

lacking, when asked what’s more or less whenever

you want. A river of what’s been missed, cutting

through if not one promised land, then another.

The world is littered with them. Antique ambitions

drawn in forgetful sand. Pockmarked musings

glossing a hilly terrain, buffering horizons that end

in water if chased far enough, until the bubbles

rise with answers from the depths to say beware

of the behemoths in dreams. Who’s who behind

the cheesecloth. What’s what as it’s always been.  

As the Words are Discounted

it’s not what but rather what’s not asked

between lines already explicitly written

to say the very opposite of what’s implied

to make a difference meld into trends

once thought unconscionable but now

merely gruff around the edges wrought

from a template of cadavers kept like a

sacred truth on ice until the time is right

to unveil what’s been a long time coming

to the last realization allowed the living

culled from memory in the form of a

shrinking sensation as the world balloons

to both surround and contain all within

reach of being bargained for by simply

being there or no 

Philip Byron Oakes is a poet living in Austin, Texas. His work has appeared in numerous journals including  E ratio, Moria, gobbet, zafusy, Otoliths to name a few. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, Cactus Land (77 Rogue Letters, 2009) and Sard (Otoliths, 2010). Blog spot: