Invocation by Steve Bellin-Oka

there is nothing left
of your body

except ashes in an urn
on a mantel

not my urn
not my mantel

I have nothing left of you
only a few photographs

digitized before
my house flooded

& the Polaroids turned
to slurry, your face

blurred & running
—the next day we

scooped them up
with shovels & tossed them

in the industrial dumpster
parked in the driveway

oh I am sorry
all I could save was

wrapping paper & the To: Steve
From: Becky tag

on an overlooked Xmas gift,
a tie we found at the back

of your closet two years after
when we could just

about bear to donate your clothes
the ones that stopped

fitting as the chemo ate
your flesh the way

one eats a salmon from a holiday platter & leaves

its outline in bones


Steve Bellin-Oka earned his M.F.A. from the University of Virginia and his Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. He is the author of a chapbook, Dead Letter Office at North Atlantic Station (Seven Kitchens Press, 2017). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tar River Poetry, Nimrod International Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, among others. He has been a finalist for the Tomaz Salamun Prize, the Autumn House Press First Book Award, and the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, among other honors. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. He lives in Portales, New Mexico and teaches at Eastern New Mexico University.