Friday, October 22, 2010

Music to Further Sadden

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Joyce Odam

A helicopter drones and drones
over some neighborhood
like a circling bird of prey.

Tonight, no squeal of tires—
no sirens—nothing contagious
in the air. Something has escaped.

Walls lean close and merge.
Nothing slips between. Window lights
go out. Buildings empower their emptiness.

From somewhere, music floats. Late music.
Can’t sleep music. Music to further sadden
the heart that guards its sadness.

Tree shadows shudder through streetlights,
make loose pattern on the sidewalks,
thanks to artistic breezes.

Only dreams venture out now and possess
the mind’s movie screens—making no sense,
or hiding great significance.

A gear-shifting motorcycle flies straight up
through the path of moonlight—all the way
to the round and perfect moon, leaving no scar.


—Joyce Odam

We are riding back to Sacramento
when a Tule-fog sets in
and we are immersed in its gray
on a disappearing freeway
with only an occasional glimpse
of white line—all taillights snuffed,
the road-edge lost to us,
no way to go but go—
I staying gripped to you,
pressed against
your body-rhythm with my own.
We are alone in this—
time-stopped while time
speeds on, re-ceding from itself.
I think no thought
but that of getting through,
in total, helpless trust of you.
The sound of us is loud—almost
a radar of a sensed direction
we don’t know how to measure,
as brief a time-path
as it is, but we pull out of it. 

—Joyce Odam

on days that sound like ides
such days as the
15th of March
at such a time as
one minute after midnight
they’ll let the telephone lines
get through

and then
we will send our late and
urgent conversations
over the tingling wires
we will be witches with old news
cackling like actresses
who pretend they are witches

you will call me
I will call you
and friends will have to
wait their turns
while we boil and bubble
till the cauldrons all run dry

too long between
we will cackle
and our crows will laugh their
ominous laughter
and we will too

get ready my friend of
the shortened distance
on the 15th of March
at one minute after midnight
one of our telephones
will jangle

(First appeared in Pearl, 1974)

(Sacramento Reads)
—Joyce Odam

He bends like a sad whisper to the grace of her
eyes.  She is saying goodbye to him, there in the
park, in the turbulent day, children all around.

He seems to need her, his vague melancholy upon
him like a familiar thought for which he has no
control.  He is a mute gray in the catch of light

that finds him lingering; he will stay a little
longer in the crowd—some purpose here that
holds him; she will wander off among the others,

the children following, straggling apart in future
directions.  He will watch them from the shade of
a tree awhile, then turn away, forgetting or

remembering this or that of himself, of her, of
the why of anything he cares about, then turning
to listen to the something else of himself that

is so quiet now in the family-light that bears the
summer down upon him.  He sees her and the children
disappear in the crowd as if into time, that mystery

through which he suddenly feels so cut apart.

(First appeared in Parting Gifts, 1998)

—Joyce Odam

A helicopter overhead.  Blue evening at
the window. TV

Books in hand, they separate toward
their silence:
he to couch, and she to bed.

The orange sun has fallen
from the day, making one statement more
for them to speak:

They glance and say: Oh yes, they love
the view . . .  Oh yes, it is so beautiful . . .
It is enough . . .

The twilight trees become old silhouettes,
like they are.  The helicopter
flaps and drones—as if to stay.

They frown and glance
away from that annoyance and finish their
errand of goodnight—that separation. 


Today's LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

The shock came at 12:16.
I marked the clock with my eyes.

I felt my house grow tense with silence.
I waited for a siren.



Photo by D.R. Wagner