Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Strange Light and Quietness

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

(After "Unusual Thursday" by Kay Sage, 1951)
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

The strange light settles over the day
for this is the hour that pulls you in.

A long bridge elongates into the horizon,
making no shadow on the flat perspective of the sea.

A tangle of shore debris holds the light
with patient stillness.

Lavender skies press in
and no gulls cry.

All sound has hushed and nothing moves:
time has taken you from one life

to another. Then something shifts.
A gull swoops past;

an old tarp makes a sound
in a sudden breeze, shuddering free.

You watch the moment change
and let it go. The sea

ripples. One shadow touches another
and the dark fills in.

(first pub. in Poem, 2004)


            “like a glove lost from a bridge”
                             —Barbara Jordan
—Joyce Odam

It was not so much
the falling,
it was the time it took
(the leaf)
down to the river
from the bridge,
the slow float of it,
the twirling,
the resistance
in the changing currents
of air
(the leaf)
dropped from her hand
as she stood and watched it
(the leaf)
gave it her concentration
and perhaps
the sacrifice:
(a leaf for a life)
perhaps to test
some touch of vertigo.


—Joyce Odam

Crossing the bridge into bleak territory
fields of flowers pull away.
It is winter here.
The old illusions freeze into shadow.
One must not touch the dark until
one also becomes the dark.

There is no easy way to say it.
Illusions are everything.
They mold to agree with the changing reality.
Whatever waits has been waiting a long time,
moving, echo-like, away from you now,
pulling a soft cape along the ground
with a shredding sound.

(pub. in Calliope, 1973, 1997)


—Joyce Odam

I cross this bridge by way of you—
my dead love—dead to my eyes

and my voice which barely echoes
over the extent of your absence.

This is not a mourning for you—
with you not here to comfort me.

There is a difference.
The bridge is so long this year,

swirled in fog and thinning cries
of something out there grieving—

and I start across this dwindling span
with a fading memory.


—Joyce Odam

The bridge is for
old men walking

the long way back and forth
from sleep to drinking

over the gray-green water
lisping— lapping—

silvering in the wind’s
constant deeping.

Cold is the shiver of time
in the daily passing.

Hot is the sun’s bright pressure
in the pale eyes, glassing.

(first pub. in Driftwood, 1972)


          After “The White Waterlilies”
                       by Claude Monet 
—Joyce Odam

Here is a bridge over quietness—
this brief arch above a descending stream
bearing petals off from some dense garden

where soft limbs of willows bend to the water
and deeper shadows stay farther back.
If no one comes to linger it will not matter

to this frail bridge that has no history to prove
in this overgrown place that is not for the
hurried—that is its own now—safe as

a picture: a small bridge over quietness—
a sun-brushed arch over a rippling stream,
bearing petals and shadows over the stones.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA

Come away will me
on this momentous day
far off this island
to where it is safe and quiet.

The north may attack again
or the east or the west
even the south
but the last one
just a little.

Chunks of buildings
may fall away
people may leap to death
and the sun may be hidden by smoke.

Well, maybe not today
but soon
or never
does one ever really know?


Thanks to today's contributors! Today's LittleNip is a nod to our Trap of the Week (see green board) about trying not to "dumb down" our poetry. And our Seed of the Week is Obsessions: Don't obsess on it, but tell us about your favorite (or least favorite!) obsession and send the results (photos, poems, art) to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.

Pollock Pines Poet Steve Talbert has just returned from the Surprise Valley Writers' Conference, and he reports that it was lots of fun: four days of poetry and poets and good food in a peaceful setting. Keep watching www.modocforum.org/writers_conf.html for details about the next one.

Fasten your seatbelts—NorCal's busy poetry season is upon us! Be sure to watch the blue board on a daily basis; that's how often announcements are coming in.


Phillip Larea reads at SPC's Hot Poetry in the Park
Sacramento, Sept. 19, 2011
—Photo by Michelle Kunert