—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
In the sweet green air of night
late summer winds rise up—play at dance,
tease the fluttering wings of leaves—
blow the curtains in through open windows.
The cat sits by the screen door,
watching the motion of shadows—
the nocturnal mysteries.
The green trees
flicker under the street lamp—
approve the spotlight—
shimmer and preen.
Name it what you will,
a change in the air;
something quickens—makes rumors.
The waves of the sea-painting seem to move,
you watch the motion of the water—
the wet color of the moonlight on the wall
—something you’ve never noticed before.
(After "Summer Day" by Mary Oliver)
Front door opened
to the last of the summer day
and on the screen
at the very top
a praying mantis
backlit by the porch light,
in a pose of hesitation—
as I hesitate—standing there
watching—wishing it a safe life.
FROM A LOST SUMMER DAY
Quick Impressions (After O’Hara)
I sink back into tall green grasses.
A soft breeze bends the grasses over me.
and reform. Voices call my name—
my name that I do not want to hear.
I will not remember my name.
I am in my dreaming.
Awake. Floating in the sea of grasses,
I, and the motioning green shadows,
borne upon the width of forever.
I will never come out.
I am green grass and green shadow.
Even the sky makes room for me—
all energy—one wide presence
everything alive in my thinking.
A child wants to be alone with child-self.
No voice. No calling.
Cruel-Kind boy . . . Indifferent boy . . .
who walked with me all over summer,
who sat—bored—across from me
in the apartment hallway and kept
flicking burned-out matches against
my bare legs. And I kept saying,
stop, as we just sat around,
waiting for the next thing to do.
He walked me out to the end of the
long dark pier on pounding ocean nights
to watch the water smash against
the pilings, then swirl against the shore.
And we would stand there, silent, feeling
the roar and swaying of the world,
and I felt helpless, but trusting.
That summer is full of him—a child—
a moody friend—a man-to-be,
whose thoughts I could never read—
a spirit boy who held my hand in essence
and took me through the summer.
the tomatoes hang green
and refuse to ripen. They crowd
their branches and I wait
for the red deliciousness
of my expectation.
Each day I bend
and look beneath,
and when I find
the smallest touch of pink,
I pluck for my counter
and they will ripen.
Dead of summer. Everything hangs.
The air bristles.
There is a thickness to my breathing.
“Storm in the mountains,”
the weatherman says. I search the sky—
note the growing thunderhead in the east—
the feel of distance—the humidity.
Slowly now, slowly, to preserve energy,
I return to my poem—the escaping words—
the effort to reclaim them. I light an incense:
Rain. I smile at the thought: an incense called
Rain. It wafts through the room. I stare at my
computer. The poem hangs. The screensaver
comes on. I stare at the swirling colors.
(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine, 2003)
NIGHTS BY THE SUMMER OCEAN
wet roar of invisible dark waves,
brushing ourselves with shining hands—
Jasmine scent upon the evening.
Something pulling at the hour.
Sad old moonlight growing sadder.
In your kiss, the salt of weeping.
Arms that loosen from their holding.
Promises that have no meaning.
Lies are all you have together.
Never mind… You’ll love forever…
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems, and to Katy Brown for the gold-lined deer. There are some new notes pinned on our b-boards today, so be sure to check them out: SPC's poetry contest deadline, for example. And we have a new photo "album" on Medusa's Facebook page: Michelle Kunert has sent us some photos from CSUS's Native American basket exhibit (thanks, Michelle!).
D.R. Wagner writes: Don't know if you heard, but the legendary poet Hugh Fox has passed, as has F.A. Nettlebeck. Both of these poets were longtime figures in the 'underground' poetry movement. A serious loss.
Sac. Poetry Center will present a new workshop on Tuesday nights (6:30-8:30pm) this Fall as part of the Room To Write series: Engaging the work of poets who have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, led by John Allen Cann at SPC, 1719 25th St., Sac. Here is the schedule of poets:
9/6 and 9/13: T.S. Eliot
9/20: Derek Walcott
9/27: Gabriela Mistral
10/4 and 10/11: Pablo Neruda
10/18: Octavio Paz
10/25 and 11/1: Seamus Heaney
11/8 and 11/15: William Butler Yeats
11/22: Samuel Beckett
11/29 and 12/6: Wislawa Symborska
11/13 and 11/20: Czeslaw Milosz
The fee is $20 per class; drop-ins welcome. For info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org (Also continuing on Tues. nights is SPC's long-standing Tues. Night Workshop at Hart Center on J Street. For info, contact Danyen Powell at 530-756-6228.)
(I see the Theme of the Week on the A Word A Day series [see green board] is interjections. Lord knows, we could all use more of those. Huzzah!)