Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Questions Are Endless

Allegra Silberstein, Davis
—Photo by Sandy Thomas, Sacramento

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

in the forest
which had been silent
something happened

a tree fell
taking at least
a century

it fell to the ground
and shuddered
taking at least a year or two

and made itself
comfortable there
while all its vibrations

reverberated still
and the air
resumed its breathing

(first pub. in Cotyledon, l998)


—Joyce Odam

Right now I could be very
angry. I could wound you. I could cause
a rift between us.

I am a delicate forest animal.
I can hear the hunter behind me.
I can feel his knife in my body.

You are laughing now, playing a serious
game with me. Distractive, I am laughing too.
I do not want to play the game with you.

I am in my home in the forest,
stepping through my door of branches
and leaves. I feel safe here.

It is not so much the cruelty now,
or the anger under the play—it is more
the silence under the communication.

The hunter is behind me, opening back
the branches and leaves. We fall into
each other’s bodies. We are lovers.

(first pub. in James Lee Jobe's One Dog Press, 1997)


She Who Sits in the forest / She Who Is the Forest
—Joyce Odam

Your soul is your life—
the deep mirror of time,
the reach toward and through.

In the divine center, you reach
Your Self.
You become the blue forest.

You feel the cool deepness
of the trees within you.
You hold still for the stillness.

You create the silence—
touch the other depths,
continue and continue.

You become the outline of yourself.
For this moment you are gone.
When you return, you will be untorn.


(Five Katautas*)
—Joyce Odam

How far to those trees?
       Crows fly into light—and there
       scatter into black fragments.

Whose small black cottage?
       Dream fairies take children from
       their sleep and reinstruct them.

Whose cries haunt the night?
       Paths with stolen crumbs have no
       safe direction to follow.

Whose tears make the rain?
       The trees are lonely for ghosts.
       Someone must serve loneliness.

How far to those trees?
       Loneliness has no distance.
       Crows fly out of the forest.

*Katauta: Japanese syllabic form (5, 7, 7,)
A question followed by an indirect answer.


—Joyce Odam

There is a white bear that lives
in a white forest of ice,
casting his thin blue shadows everywhere

over those cold regions,
lonely for a warmth he never knew
or for a thawing of the fears around him.

He has no name but White Bear
but does not answer to this.
He roams the paths of his imagination—

living out his existence
as a myth of his own making.
Never go there

with your envisioning powers
lest you make him extinct
along with your other vanities of creation.

He was meant to be alone—
there only for the last separation of self.
He has not yet wakened to this.

Do not waken him from this mission
—that of being the only one of his kind.
You must not think to rescue him—

or destroy him. He is not yours to own—
not even in his tenuous existence
in this poem.

(first pub. in Nomad’s Choir)


—Joyce Odam

It was the year before white birds
flying over black dream-forest,
where secrets lived
and echoes were last heard.

This was strictly rumor.

Clocks were wound
and then left to run down.
There were no survivors of the ruin.
It was a dead mirage.

We followed anyway—
Hope fluttering before us,
white-winged—deliberate—and slow,
as though

there was never any reason to hurry.

we found Hope—
floundering behind us—lost and anxious—
and surprised.


Today's LittleNip: 


All night they struggled through the forest,
two creatures from the tale of woe,
doomed to create an ancient story
from myth to moral,

she being borne on the back of a handsome beast
who would protect her from the evil
that lurked at the edge of fairy tales
not yet written.

—Joyce Odam


Thanks to Joyce Odam for these poems about The Forest Primeval, and to Sandy Thomas for the delicious pic of Allegra Silberstein, Davis PL. Don't forget that next Monday (8/15) is the deadline for the anthology of Davis poems that Allegra is putting together as part of her PL duties; see DavisPoetryBook.com for details. And go to the Medusa's Kitchen Facebook page for an "album" of Sandy's photos from the Bay Area Poet Laureates' Picnic held in Benicia last Saturday—so cool! Thanks for those, ST.

Mo Hurley writes to remind us that the deadline is this coming Friday (8/12) to sign up for the Cal. Poets in the Schools 47th Symposium: Writing Ourselves True, which will be held on Sept. 9-11 at La Casa de Maria Retreat Ctr., Santa Barbara. Workshops, readings, poetry intensive with Steve Kowit; featured reading by Perie Longo. $150; non-CPITS members welcome (small extra fee). Reg and see more at www.cpits.org/events/events.htm

Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help (the novel which has now been made into a motion picture), received sixty rejection letters from literary agents before finding one who would represent her manuscript to publishing houses, according to Allen Pierleoni in Monday’s Sacramento Bee. Sixty! Publishing takes tenacity, that's for sure.

Be sure to check our Question of the Day in the green section of the b-board, and while you're in a questioning mode, consider composing a katauta. (See Joyce's katauta above for a fine example.) Or write to our Seed of the Week: A car passes on a rainy street... Where was it going? Where had it been? Was it night or day, dusk or dawn? Who was driving? What was in the back seat, the trunk? The questions, concrete and otherwise, are endless.........