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Keith Polette


Ocean Vermillion Blue Head by Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso

At the gas pump stands a sandaled man, his arms saturated with tattoos, as if he had plunged them into a vat of poems by Bukowski.  He approaches me looking like he just walked out of Gilgamesh.  So fixated am I on his inked arms that I recall the fountain pen I was forced to use in grade school, the one that always leaked, leaving my fingers stained blue, as if the act of writing had bruised them, but then I become released from my revelry with the man’s quiet request for cash to get enough gas for Tucson.  He spins a tale of being stranded, his wife with child, his mother in need of medical repair, his best friend institutionalized for claiming to be immortal . . . his words coming at me fast, hitting me like a fragmentation grenade of feathers.  And when he is finished, I fish a twenty out of my wallet and wish him and his family Godspeed.

late night lark’s call—
I rearrange these bones
to make a dog


About the writer:
Keith Polette has published myriad poems in both print and online journals, including Sky Island Journal, High Desert Journal, Eunoia Review, Valley Voices, Amethyst Magazine, The Offbeat, Orphic Lute, Otoliths, The Haibun Journal, Frogpond, Presence, Sonic Boom, Blithe Spirit, and Contemporary Haibun Online. His book of haibun, pilgrimage, received the Haiku Society of America’s Merit Book Award in 2021. More of Polette’s work is available under the title War and Riff in the 2022 Pamphlet Series from Buttonhook Press.

Image: Ocean Vermillion Blue Head by Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso (1887-1918). Gouache on paper. No size specified. 1916. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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