Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Like A Possibility

Where there's smoke...

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

mammoth friend
I didn’t know you in person
nor do I think you had a proper burial
you died at sea, floundering
an accident
nothing planned
caught under a ship in the Gulf of Mexico
during a gigantic spill

I saw your great body there, heaving
under the oil-soaked waves
I wept to see my distant animal cousin
helpless, dying
fighting to breathe, trapped
like one with lung cancer
cavities filled, no choice, no chance

sink deep …
rest in peace


Thanks, Pat, for the poem. She writes: I was inspired to write the attached poem "Funeral for a Whale" by Joyce Odam's comment [Monday] on Medusa that she was "heartbroken" for the treatment of our animal relatives. See below for more Joyce Odam, as she rounds off last week's Seed of the Week: In the Hollow of Night (people are writing back and forth to each other with a fury in the Kitchen right now—see Joyce's first poem below!).

And see the photo above for our new Seed of the Week: Where there's smoke... Send your smoulderings to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs; go to Calliope's Closet page on the b-board (under the Snake on a Rod) for a plenitude of seeds as we cruise into spring.


—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

(After “Captive to the Song with butterflies…”
                                   —D.R. Wagner)

Music bursts through the dark opening—
electrical with energy—
hollow with echo—far away music

that is remembered now
where white curtains of air-light shred
and butterflies tremble toward the source.

Sounds widen to match the listening;
the musical Rorschach
alters its form.

The butterflies stay in the same flutter of time.
Time slows to one heartbeat,
holds its breath.


—Joyce Odam

far away dogs
who start softly
and you don’t really hear them
and then become urgent and
and soon the echoes of night
carry and distort with the
ragged complaint of the dogs
who answer and answer
from everywhere
and the night is hollow
and lets itself fill
with this chorus of telling
and then
when your listening is
most strained
you feel the abrupt silence . . .

at once
in unison they have signaled
and the absence hangs suspended
with shuddering echoes
before it swallows back
along the air
back over the miles of city
back to the cocked listening
of the dogs


—Joyce Odam

Like any childhood ghost story
told over candlelight:

the bones of the face
the eyes burning
with the flame
the pressing forward
to listen
as the voice of the story teller
taking on a hollow tone
just when
the candle
wavered in a draft
and just when
the breath
grew tight—
and just then the pause—
the melodramatic hesitation
of the story—
and then the expected
punch line
and the nervous laughter

More, we shouted; more!


—Joyce Odam

I flood the night with my sorrow.
I didn’t mean to say that.
I sleep and wake

and repeat
the pattern. Now
I am dreaming. Now I am not.


—Joyce Odam

It is the night of penetrant dark—deep lapses into
sorrow—that old state of being, vague and distant.
How to reach the self?

The mirror does not help—does not know the eyes.
There is no light for the mind which is delving into
known depths for the old deliverance.

The window swallows the night—allows sounds
to magnify—sounds to diminish. There is such
an ache in the universe. Fiction does not allow

one to tamper with reality: one becomes the other,
just as the face becomes the mirror-face, which
becomes the real face, which becomes glass-flesh.


—Joyce Odam

Off the edge of my distance I quarrel with light—
all the ribbons of darkness—
to mark the last detail,
before night comes down, before my eyes
must take the words of night into my mind
as one takes any darkness in.

Here is where I yield, as when
the electricity goes off—
even the street lights—
and the signal lights on the corner,
when eyes collect the totality of dark,
and the flashlight must be found,
and the candles.
Here is where distance fails,
and everything becomes
the here and now—the way time is,
and the conception of time—
the conception of space
if all the stars went out.

Haste is what you use here:
the dark is the dark;
light exists somewhere as a possibility,
or a memory—or a release into fear
when one is alone to grope through everything
suddenly dimensionless—like falling.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

Torn again, the curtains of night. How many stars
pass through, become dreams, sweet and lonely.

Yet it is bitterness that always claims you—
wanting those second chances to solve.

How loosely life holds you now in its mind-cradle,
lullaby after lullaby, till sleep lets you in.



—Photo by Katy Brown