Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Now There is Forever

Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

I hurry but find no proof of kill.
The old wounds shift
and the arrow is bouncing off a tree.

Is that my skill, my thoughts arriving
before I know them—
but always missing my target heart?

I am standing in a familiar shaft
of cold red light—
the sliced air shining and streaming.

I touch my breast and watch the blood
pour down my hand
and am pleased at my calmness.


that drew
the careful curiosity of the boy

the old hive empty now
in the far back corner

of the lot
he still can hear

the golden buzzing
and note the way

the lazy shadows move
against the dreaming day

his mother stands there too
with him,

as if the bees
are still there

and busy at their work

as in some olden time
before this trembling moment

and much was lost forever

—Joyce Odam
(based on J. Alden Weir, "Watching the Bees", 1896)


—Joyce Odam

Home late again
to drain pan over-
flowing all across
green-sea linoleum.
She sloshed the pan
from under the ice box
poured it down the sink
and grabbed the mop.
     *     *     *
oh, in the day
the hours melt
like ice in wooden dark
intentions lag behind
like gray enamel hands
that hold too much and
lately the apartment
takes the smell
of cold and wet
not enough heat
no light
the walls too close
to other walls
must get away
     *     *     *

The ice man

climbs the stairs
twice every week.
Ice drips its usefulness away.
The pan grows full.
measures out the duty and
the play
but never gets home
soon enough.
Hard to
time these things.

 —Photo by Joyce Odam


—Joyce Odam

In the dream, the mirror holds
     my mother. She pleads to be
     released. Her tears run down
     the outside of the glass.

In the dream, my mother holds a
     glass of something bitter; she
     tastes and laughs. She dances
     to the breaking music in the
     mirror, her laugh in shatter.

In the dream, my mother is sitting
     at a window. Night is caught
     in the dark frame-light of the
     mirror. She shuffles an old deck
     of cards, lays them out again.

In the dream, I knock on the glass
     and it shatters. My hand bleeds.
     I try to run, but she holds me
     with a look. I try to run, but
     she holds me with a look.

In the dream, my mother is beside
     me, smiling with me into the
     mirror. In the mirror, she is
     looking out at us—rage on
     her face, pounding on the glass,
     weeping and shouting.

(first pub. in Caveat Lector, 1999)


—Joyce Odam

Black stars
in a white sky—
that kind of night.

Lightning that vanishes
before it strikes
because you close your eyes.

Only a mountain away—
whatever you want
and cannot reach in time.

Every wilderness has a center
where calmness breeds
like an extinct animal.

That weeping you hear—a pillow
that smothers what you feel
till you cannot feel it anymore.

Green clouds in windows
where tears blur glass and
a finger draws in the moisture.

However you mean this is beyond
explanation—you have counted all
the stars and they are gone.

The wild animal that lives
under your windowsill has dreams
unimaginable to you.



—Joyce Odam

They dance as if they have another distance to go.
She would dance fast. He dances slow.

Bogged down in each other, cheek to cheek,
trite and weary, they become as bleak

as someone biddable to sophistication’s mode.
They dance as if their very lives were owed

to melancholy, and melancholy’s tragic mirror.
She pulls away to look back over her bare shoulder;

his sweaty hand flattens against her back;
she softens and clasps her hands around his neck;

and he looks past her to someone in the shadow—
someone without a face before a window

who turns away as though, on close inspection,
must once again be only a reflection.

Something about this haunts him like a dying;
she looks at him and finds he has been crying,

and she has taken on a glassy kind of texture
and is receding from him, feature by feature;

the other dancers, too, seem to be drifting—
something of this night no longer shifting,

the same old music playing its hollow song,
time and its window teasing life along.

He finds the joke almost a bit too clever
First there was no time. Now there is forever.


Today's LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

The distortions and the perfections entangle, 
sharing color and form

How much of the ungraspable allows the eyes        
of obverse imagination

How much of the mystery holds still for the
instant of viewing

How much or how little can the mind
know what it seeks to know

How many strange and lovely birds fly over
or rest in stillness before harm finds them

How much does the painterly world
become real

What encroachments yet wait to use and
despoil the lost perfection

—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's gourmet fare. Our next Seed of the Week is Spells: ever had a spell cast on you? The lover you couldn't leave, the car you had to have, the daze of a hot summer's day? Send your spell-bound poems to kathykieth@hotmail.com—no deadlines on SOWs, though. After all, you're under a spell.....

—Photo by Joyce Odam