Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Time As a Page With Nothing On It

Figuerine (The Thinker)
—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

This page of pity
is for your great loss,

is for your sad song,
is for your mute cry.

I have unrolled it for you
as if it were a scroll,

as if ink could ever
wear such woe

and not bleed there
indelibly. Oh,

who are you to come to me
with such great sorrow

and spread its shadow over me
like a wing of heaviness.

My shoulders ache
with sympathy.


—Joyce Odam

I borrow
this lip and this chair
for my speech and comfort,

for my white space of effort
which is a new page
of possibility.

I borrow this old arrow
to be my direction
and my luggage of light.

They will get me there.
All you who wait
on side roads and benches,

I will not rest till you find me,
greedy as a stare.
Oh, failing eyes,

go by me.
It’s all right.
I borrow patience for forgiveness.


—Joyce Odam

We are solitude. We are public with mercy. We will
never tell lies unless you ask for truth. We are full

of ourselves. You better believe us. We are every-
thing to everything—born perfect—fading from

our own memory. Believe us when we tell you what
we know. We have secrets. Never probe. You may

love us when we’re young, desirable as innocence,
easy as traps. We save words for spells. For intona-

tions. For comfort. When we are old and you are
bewildered by us, we will let you go. Or stay. Be

careful how you use the word love. We will exam-
ine it like a street too wide to cross,

in a slow-motion dream with no end to any story.


—Joyce Odam

The cat has been stroked and has
left my lap to the
lamplight in the dark morning.

Hum of early traffic begins . . .
no . . .     only an airplane drone,
gone now.

My pencil scrapes the page with a
strange sound—whisper of language
a pen does not know.

A thin whine in some far background
says,    Here . . .    Now . . .
in my ear only.

Shall I rise to the dark morning
and put all this away
, unfinished?

Now that morning
no longer belongs to me,
I am distracted.

But the words still compel me
with their illegible scribble.
Time is going,  and they accuse me.

Where is the comfort-cat now
 . . . that silent shadow of
casual existence . . .?

Spirit in the Window
—Photo by Joyce Odam


—Joyce Odam

January 2nd is missing, or did you
lose—too soon—all your resolve?

Are you secret, or out of volition?
I kept faith with your resolution,

but you have become private—
choosing not to let me in on your

calendar of days as you spend
them. And I, who was ready to

accompany you, am left stranded
in a glitch of my life—my thumb

extended—on a long empty road.
It is dusk. And cold. And I didn’t

bring a page to fill—or a pencil
to fill it with—let alone a thought.

And I wonder if tomorrow you
might yet drive by and rescue me,

or if ever I should believe in anyone
again who voices their persuasive

intentions. I expected the full
365 days—not—this soon—gaps.

(first pub. in Sakana, 2005)


—Joyce Odam

I wish I had words on this page.
Thought vanishes as I think it.

Time is culprit and suspect.
I wish I had words.


—Joyce Odam

I like the way the cover is torn
against imagination,
a sort of artifice of design—

a deliberate tear to look real,
a corner of thought,
or afterthought,

to touch in chagrin
and frown with disapproval:
Books are to be respected,

on one side of the argument, &
Books well-read, well-used,
from another point of view.

So why this
pretend tear—drawn there—
or photographed from a real tear

in simulation. Hard to know.
Somehow, though, I’m glad
the tear is not real—and only faux.


—Joyce Odam

We talk of light the way we talk of dark.
We mention gray twilights for compromise.
But, really, it is only light and dark.

Our voices set against each other—shrill
and distant—our gestures rising in a dance,
intense with choreography.

Night flounders down
with clumsiness.
We fold into its tangled garments and sleep.


I wake briefly to see someone searching
among us for whatever she has lost. She
picks up page after crumpled page and reads.

She nudges each of us with a question.
But that is not it. She picks up a child from
the center of us and carries it away with her.


The window is full of birds. One of the birds
thinks up a song of pure senseless joy
and begins singing.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

This is the sky of winter—this slow and heavy
gray, with its weight of ghostly birds that sift
into each other’s cries—and lose their way.

(first pub. in Caught Against the Years
SpiralChap from Rattlesnake Press, 2005)



 Shy Behind Flowers
—Photo by Joyce Odam