Jodi cob ~ GEISHAS ~ 1995
from TALE OF GEINJI—Murasaki Shikibu
When the colors of a robe do not
match the seasons, the flowers of
Spring and the autumn tints, then
the whole effort is futile as the dew.
Red is the most disturbing color of the day,
the day intense with summer. Red sways
and sways in unison with the heat—shimmer
of a long glass window, where seven dancers,
in geisha-red, stare down a long enticing
hallway toward a glass audition door.
Or, they are seven sisters—born
at the same moment—out of your
imagination. You cannot change this.
Free this thought: red changes shape,
runs thick, like blood, runs thin
like water, is powerful in any light.
Other motion echoes this—blurs
and runs together in fascinations of red:
red in shadow, red in puddle,
red turned into a bleeding sunset.
Red is in windows that reproduce
in windows, shifting and breaking
everything that hurries together,
lights, and sounds, old thermometers,
eyes that smoulder. Red is in rhythm with
the mind’s distortion. It is a pulse; an embolic
flow; a flash against silence; an affirmation;
a dark glow when you close your eyes.
It is the throbbing aftermath of memory.
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
At the end of a long street
I see you walking toward me.
You pass window after window
without looking in.
Doors around you open
You enter none of them.
Children run past
and you disappear
into the swift shadow of time.
It is already autumn.
Will we remember each other?
(first pub. in Noir Love, Rattlesnake LittleBook-2, 2007)
I HAVE CUT MY HAIR
I have followed the long flowing line
of bright trees to this hour. Gold is
everywhere. Is this autumn? Rust is
everywhere. Am I dying? I am my own
now. I have cut my hair. I have met
mirrors who did not know me. They
said, “Who are you, and why did you
cut your hair?”
My mother wept behind me. Now fear
wraps around me and tries to be a coat.
My mother opens a towel for me so I
can dry my hair. She is weeping and
smiling. I hold her until she needs to be
let go. We look in the mirror together
and only one of us is there.
THE SINGER AND THE SUNG
Behold me now in autumn.
Love after love
I drift through something golden.
Name it anything.
I die with the sun
and live again in leaves.
In the blue corners of my shadow
I wait for rain.
I fathom to your eyes.
You feel me dancing.
You would dance with me
but the light is hollow.
You ask if I am real
and I answer you with laughter.
You close your eyes
and I slip behind them.
You call me sadness.
I come to you again
when you are
tearing from the trees.
How faceted you are,
holding your corners up to the wind,
giving me the bright happiness
of your tears.
At last I know you.
You are the rain.
I tell you how it is to be
half golden—half blue shadow
and you keep breaking into
I turn my body into silence,
but you have found
where I keep my love
and you are singing.
(first pub. in The Small Pond, 1971)
(after "Still to be Neat" by Ben Johnson)
One brief look and she is gone.
Try to follow and be lost
in a swirl of leaves
and scented breeze of autumn.
She is only what is thought
And you are turning into winter.
WEED PULLING FREE
poor damn yellow weed
pulling its life from the
ground under the crack in
the cement island between
the iron poles
in the service station…
never mind that…it is making
the wild sweet effort…
autumn-dancing…telling the wind
yesyesyes here i am….
This poem has appeared in The Small Pond (1974), Lemon Center For Hot Buttered Roll (Chapbook, Hibiscus Press, 1975) and Weed Symbolism (Choice-Of-Words Mini-Chap, 2002)
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