Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Those Slippery Rocks We Struggle On

Rose and Bud
—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento           

In October, second rooster, Ari,
challenged first rooster, Spur,

and handsome cock of the territory
went down beneath the beak and size

of challenge and cowered small between
the cement block and the loss of fame

for over an hour till I— with stick
and shout—went out and interfered

to let first rooster, Spur, unglaze from
stupor and reach the vital pan of water.

(first pub. in Acorn, 1997)

—Joyce Odam

strangely luminous
you fly to my throat
a gauze-bird humming
bent wings around my neck
your beak in my hair
looking for perfume there
your gold feet pinned to my collar
your cold eyes lacking communication
how can I feed you
how can I love you
drops of blood run down my skin
into my clothing
your pin slips position
you fasten again
soon I am apathetic
I hold a glass of tear-water
in my hand for you


—Joyce Odam

Water falls in drops,
white lines framed by light:

pattern / pattern / pattern
caught in the tangible instant

of designative art—
cut-out lines for scissors

drawn like tears on a paper face.
Tears, then—trickle lines

of tears—grief frozen here
forever / forever / forever.


          Young Girl with Goldfish Bowl (clip art picture)
—Joyce Odam

What is world
of one fish swimming
in small bowl of quiet water—

circling its image there
in mutual provision: its life,
its other life, the way it situates

its surroundings
with simple meaning;
and when the child comes

and places her small hands
against the glass, is there a brief
or lasting connection

of what there is between them:
sympathy and endurance—
whatever answer calms this question;

or is it all in the beauty of the meeting:
the stillness and the movement,
the sensitivity to a new meaning?

—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam

It does no good to send stones across
your water. You are a silent lake,
smooth under the moonlight.

You send back glitters
to my eyes—
as failed as tears to a closing face.

The signs of skill are not
acknowledged here. You are 
a jealous dream—a lake of sleep.

You stretch and pull. You spill
yourself into a singular darkness,
which ripples far away.

I am an edge of you;
my hidden feet are mired.
All my stones float back to me.


               (From a picture, “Split Ends”
                                               by Mary Mackey)
—Joyce Odam

The women are undoing their clothing
for the bath.

Now they are immersing themselves
into scented water.

Now they are closing their eyes and
thinking their thoughts.

Now they are drying their bodies
and their hair.

Now they are looking at themselves
in steamy mirrors.

Now they are walking toward the arms
of lighted rooms.

Now they are slowly falling toward far-
away beds with satiny covers.

Now they lie down, waiting for dreams,
waiting for morning.

—Joyce Odam

Yes, it is for you I dream and waken—
the dream scattered into fragment parts,
half remembered—the dark water of it,
the slippery rocks we struggle on,
the horse in danger;

what does the horse mean:
the eerie terrain of night,
the panic, the strangeness—the mental wall
of those whose mercy we beseech
who struggle near us in their own displacement;

and the edge that is always at the leaning,
the unsafe balance, the night caught
in the complicated landscape of the mind
relinquished to sleep—
the awful things that happen to it.

I awaken just in time again,
refusing to go back
to have to finish the danger—
it is all locked in place:

you still there—
waiting for my reentering,
the night-water sloshing against
the wet rocks—the horse
still dissolving into our inability to rescue it.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's pix and poems, finishing off last week's Seed of the Week: Still Water. Father's Day is on the horizon; our new SOW is When Dad and I...  —what? fought? fished? fancy-danced? Tell us about "when Dad and I" and send your poems/photos/artwork to kathykieth@hotmail.com (for more fatherly inspiration, go to www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5867).


Today's LittleNip:

—Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early 
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, 
then with cracked hands that ached 
from labor in the weekday weather made 
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. 
When the rooms were warm, he'd call, 
and slowly I would rise and dress, 
fearing the chronic angers of that house, 

Speaking indifferently to him, 
who had driven out the cold 
and polished my good shoes as well. 
What did I know, what did I know 
of love's austere and lonely offices? 

 —Photo by Joyce Odam