—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
The women in the mirage
lounge and preen;
you can see them in the distance
—arrayed in shimmering silks
by the fountains,
how patient they seem,
how vaguely beautiful there—
there for the solace of men
who are dying of thirst
and you watch how they bring
transparent goblets to their lips
and stare in your direction—
how they blend with the heat-waves
and do not seem aware
of how far away they are.
—and when you reach them,
they will flow through your touch
like any other yearning.
THE DARK BIRDS
(based on "Dark Birds, Dark Sea", 1959, Milton Avery
American Art Review, December 1999)
Midnight birds in a dark blue river,
held by a spreading path of moonlight,
their gold beaks shining
in the shimmer-silence of the hour.
They seem too shadowy
to be real—as if painted
by a midnight child
in love with midnight’s deep blue color.
(first pub. in Brevities)
Trio of dim light—wound of mirrors in the
middle, she, in her still dance, one through three,
seeing herself all over— for the first time whole,
subdued to sadness to be so beautiful and so
without admirers—watching the other-dance
of herself—slow preen in slow light—blue like
the round glass of the round room. One by
one, she releases her selves into the mirrors
and watches them walk away until she is gone.
(first pub. in What Is It About Blue, Mini-Chap, 2002)
(based on “Transformacion En El Paraiso” 1987
by Freddy Rodriguez, Dominican Republic)
blue eyes of red flowers
eyes of viewer
vase without water
roses without stems
a floating red feather
the white vase shining
under the floating roses
that used to be a dozen
a surround of blue
that is only a dream
of its midnight self
one huge red flower
with a deep blue eye
burning with transformation
(RUBY BIRD) The Toy Shelf
(based on "Ruby Bird" postcard by Lewis H. Siegel)
Ruby Bird flies against red wall,
over pottery shards,
under midnight moon—
both caught in the angers
that are like cross-winds of time,
as if the wall bleeds of its own despair,
as if the white flame
of the candle must ever flare
in the harsh futility
that lives here,
in a red cage made of
This is not a poem to celebrate
the myths of madness,
of how the wall streams
with tragic weeping
for the beating of the bird’s wings.
The black moon, too,
is prisoner and solution. Solution:
all that cannot be endured.
THE DREAM OF BEING ELSEWHERE
Midnight. Tuesday. The night bird flies in
out of the dark, the window opening for it.
Outside, the flock—dipping in welcome.
I hear their wings glide. I sense their shadows.
I feel their eyes—bright as glass. They film
my window. Swarm in. They lift me through
the dark release. I am only what I imagine.
(versions of this poem have appeared in
Parting Gifts and Peripherals, Mini-Chap)
Let's take our Seed of the Week from Joyce's LittleNip, The Dream of Being Elsewhere. Are you still daydreaming about the oasis? Wish you were ANYWHERE else than here? Or is it your nightdreams that carry you away, for better or worse... Work all this out on paper and send your dreamings to email@example.com—but there are no deadline on past SOWs, either. Check out our extensive list in Calliope's Closet under the Snake on a Rod on our green board at the right of this column.