Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Darkness Measured

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—No Ch'onmyong (1912-1957)

I wish to be a nameless woman
way out on a small hillside.
With gourd-vines on the roof of my cottage, 
pumpkins and cucumbers in a hemp-garden,
the moon invited into my yard
over a fence made of roses,
and my arms full of stars;
the owl-hooting dark will not make me lonely.

In a village where the train never stops,
eating miller-cake soaked in a brass basin,
talking with a close friend until late at night
about the secrets of the fox-haunted mountains,
while a shaggy dog barks at the moon,
I shall be happier than a queen.

(Translated from the Korean by Ko Won)


My apologies to Bob Stanley for mis-attributing his poem about Richard Hansen that was posted last Saturday (see the "Imaginarium of Life" post); I said it was written by Tom Goff, who kindly reminded me that no, it wasn’t his. Sorry, Bob! And thanks to today's contributors, who really DID do what I'm saying they did...really........ Joyce is polishing off our Self-Portrait SOW, and D.R. Is reminding us that these dark winter days won't last forever.

Congrats to Victoria Dalkey for winning a lifetime achievement resolution from the Sacramento City Council, which she'll be officially receiving down at City Hall tonight at 6pm. Today's poet, Joyce Odam, received a similar resolution from the city several years ago, by the way.

Our Seed of the Week is "Things I Have Forgotten", an apt subject for rumination during this busy season. Send your poems/artwork/photos to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.


—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

i will be the crow today
i am already black-winged
and full of harsh utterance

i will separate the rain
i will go toward the
translucent darkness i can
feel in my mind


i am many selves         all crow:
we enter the silver and gray,

trees are for disappearance
we possess branches
we gleam in the little bright
mirrors of the rain

(First published in The Cape Rock, Centennial Issue, 1972-73
then later in Joyce's chapbook, Lemon Center For Hot-Buttered Roll)


—Joyce Odam

I find my child self in the same old hallway,
toys all over the carpet outside the door,

to watch for my mother to come home,
to guard the length of the waiting,

get lost in the play,
watch for her,       watch for her,

rearrange the toys,       be small and quiet,
I think I am eight years old.


—Joyce Odam

I, being myself,
find again the stranger, saying,
who are you.

And the old dialogue is on again.
I say: I am one self, then another,
then another;

I say:
I have no more words
to questions made of words.

I say: If love is all you need,
you have too much and not enough.
Why can’t you be content with that, I say.


—Joyce Odam

Who is Joyce, who is she,
with her stumble of words,
her clumsy language?

Look, she is all un-
gathered again,
mended so temporarily
in one first mirror.

Stepping away, look how she
stutters apart,
sending little nervous glances
in all that glass.

Oh, she has something to say.
Oh, she is opening her mouth.
Oh, a moth flies in.

Tell us about gray, then;
tell us about soft suffocation
on the tongue.

Well, her eyes are sufficient,
I suppose;
they are rather like candles.
But the moth has died.

(First published in California Quarterly, 1974)


—Joyce Odam

Where do we go now in the midst of ruin?
Who allows this?

What strange scent pours out of windows?
What flaw waits in the heart of perfection?

Whose rule is this?
Who cries with me here

in the immense shadow of self-projection—
loomed up the high wall

to be flattened into
this futile dance of exaggerated self?


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

dance now
in circle of self-watching

self holding self

all that darkness measured
and made easy to lead and follow

(First published in Blindman’s Rainbow) 



Photo by D.R. Wagner