Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Lizard Suns Himself

Taos Gorge, New Mexico
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

Blue is a dawn word
and a twilight word; at dawn

it sounds like the moment just before
birdsong; at dusk it sounds like a shadow.

Blue is sometimes an alto saxophone
and sometimes a flute sound in the rain.

Blue moves in slow motion to hear itself
move. Blue is heavy with saturation.

Blue is a kind of prayer spoken
by loves who have lost each other.

Blue can dance to its own blue music
to which reunited lovers are slowly dancing.

(first published in Listening To Blue Mini-Chap
by Joyce Odam, 2002)


                   After “Captive to the Song with butterflies…”
                                  —D.R. Wagner
—Joyce Odam

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

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

It was the looking through time
through the eyes of

the old tree watching me . . .
it was the birds in the tree

with all their sweet ferocity
singing down to me . . .

and the old tree whispered
and flickered its leaves,

and a thin breeze sang through,
carrying thinner memories . . .

and the day let its light go soft,
and I felt myself lift

into the sound,
and the way things moved,

yet stayed where they were . . .
and I was asleep as a child.


—Joyce Odam

Rough, from the hills,
hiding out as knots of wood,
their hats and beards
all pulling from the world,
their eyes grown dark and closing
as they hang in slanted shadows
in a pose of ancient longing,
how they clan-ly, dim-ly,
whisper to the walls . . .
how they clan
and dimly whisper
to the walls.


—Joyce Odam

The midnight bird sings to midnight now,
and to me—his listener—and the
summer window that lets his song in.

And the late cars push through the singing
with their muffled sounds—a block away—
like far-off echoes of the noisy day

or a soft wind,      sighing,
sighing,      for uncluttered wilderness.
And the midnight bird,

perhaps on the moon-lit rail
of my fence, or from the nearby tree,
enjoys his variegated soloing.

And I am in the auditorium
of his life—
an auditorium with perfect acoustics

for his rapturous self-singing,
until even that
moves in and out of my attention.

and I realize I have drifted back into myself.
Such is my loss. Such is the loss
of tone-deaf time that refuses to be stopped.


—Joyce Odam

Upon warm stone
the lizard suns himself—

are lost in time.

The dust of field grass
is living talcum

in the yellow breezes.

I try

There are murmurs here
and sudden burst of meadowlark

and cobweb
singing on the berry vine.

Translation almost

a sigh
breaks from my wistfulness.

The lizard misinterprets
the sound.

(first published in The Above Ground Review, 1969
and The Senior Magazine, Oct. 2004)


—Joyce Odam

I whisper into the telephone.
You whisper back.

We talk of silent things . . .
we talk of silent things . . .

repeating ourselves
and offering questions.

and, Yes?

Dyings are like this.
And waiting for dyings,

which is what we
have no words for,

though we speak and speak
in these whispers.

(first published in Paisley Moon, 1994)


—Cynthia Linville

The July-scented storm invoked thunder,
rain tight like fists.
All our boxes dissolved into wet.

Now the years are slick with surprise
the solace of confession, inadequate
the prayer candles, blown out.

He had absolutely no business looking.
He wasn’t a reliable witness.
We failed to retrace the map.


We failed to retrace the map.
Now the years are slick with surprise—
he wasn’t a reliable witness.

He had absolutely no business looking.
All our boxes dissolved into wet,
rain tight like fists.

The July-scented storm invoked thunder,
the solace of confession. Inadequate—
the prayer candles blown out.


The prayer candles, blown out,
he had absolutely no business looking.
Now the years are slick with surprise—

the solace of confession, inadequate.
Rain tight like fists
all our boxes dissolved into wet.

He wasn’t a reliable witness.
The July-scented storm invoked thunder.
We failed to retrace the map.


Today's LittleNip: 

One learns by doing the thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.




Thanks to Joyce and to Cynthia for today's offerings. Joyce is no slouch at poetry forms, so it's fitting that our Seed of the Week be a variation on the villanelle that was thunk up by Cynthia Linville: The Linvillanelle. I know some of you break out in hives at the very mention of forms, but heck—as Sophocles says, give it a shot. You might surprise yourself. (Scroll back up to the Snake on a Rod on the b-board and click on Calliope's Closet for "Medusa's Bunched-Up-Panties Rant #1: FORMS?? OMG!!" to see what my opinion is on the subject.)

About her form, Cynthia writes: The Linvillanelle, which bears only a loose connection to a villanelle, is a poem in three parts:

1) The lines in the first part are repeated in the next two parts, but in a (mostly) different order. Different punctuation and capitalization are also allowed.
2) The last line of the first part becomes the first line of the second part, and the last line of the second part becomes the first line of the third part.
3) The last two lines of the third part are comprised of the first line and the last line of the first part. 

No other rules.

Thanks to my writing group (Shawn Aveningo, Lytton Bell, and Jen Jenkins) for midwifing and naming this form.

So check out Cynthia's "Glass Houses" example above and see what you can come up with, and send your results (or poems/photos/artwork of any other ilk—Joyce's lizard, maybe, or whispering into the telephone. Flute sound in the rain? Midnight bird?) to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.

By the way, Cynthia's writing group mentioned above, known as Poetica Erotica, is now available for readings. Scroll down to our new Medusa's Classifieds section (lower in the blue box on the b-board) for more info.

Detail, Chautauqua Bronze, Ashland, OR
—Photo by Cynthia Linville
(for more of Cynthia's Ashland photos, 
go to the Medusa's Kitchen page on Facebook)