Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Old Suitcase

—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

All night the captured dreamer must ride on the back of the 
bull through the forest of her own dream, through tangles of 
vines with white leaves that catch at her hair, and through 
the four directions that keep pointing and quarreling to keep 
her lost. Morning is at the other end of the dream, but she is 
holding her arm across her eyes as if she can stay asleep 
and not believe where she is, her sleeping-gown in shreds, 
her posture one of mesmerized foreboding. The night is 
heavy and deep and has no dimension; it has swallowed 
every sound and left her this muffled passage where the 
bull, like an old protector, must bear her along, for as long 
as she needs, in this precarious half-sleep, where she cannot 
feel or hear the comforting snort of his effortless breathing 
or the carefully-stepping delicate tread of his feet.

(first pub. in Poetry Depth Quarterly, 1999)


—Joyce Odam
When I traveled to the town of Sorrow,
bringing my old suitcase

full of stones,
and I was long in arriving

where it was cold,
where it was raining,

where doors hung blindly
waiting for me to choose one 

but the town was full of doors,
no knobs, no numbers,

a town of old hotels where all my
old loves were waiting,

dreamed, and lying shadowless 
and strange.

Had they forgotten me?
Was I soon enough to hold them?

(first pub. in Tule Review, 2010)


—Joyce Odam

where I am thin
sorrow pours through
I permit
the passage of sunlight
through these holes
I fold my darkness
like an old quilt of winter
all those squares
taken from old garments
I have been cold
all my life
now I am cured
of my unhappiness
I permit birds to sing
across my landscape
I open my trees for them

(first pub. in Poet News, 1989)

—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam

Through the door—the light,
abstract and meaningless.
The door itself is a passage.
It frames all who enter—
to stay or leave.
It leans a bit toward or away
from the light. It gives
permission. Always allows.
It makes the difference
between forever and never—
the point of view. It has no knob.
It swings, or is a curtain.
It never tires, holding up the walls
that depend on it, that need the roof,
and the floor—the meaning of the door.


—Joyce Odam

(1) why number
these passages of thought
as if to dissect words
from themselves,
as if to portion them
into comprehensibilities . . .

(2) like rooms of the mind
entered and left,
roamed for their strangeness,
for the differences of their moods,
for the sharp pungencies of memories,
for the doors between images
that open and open like inspiration . . .

(3) why number these stanzas
of words
that fumble with effort
or flow into eloquence,
like silken birds
that leave their cages
and brighten the containment
of your mind-house

(4) why number such meanings
of little speeches
so they can return, in sequence,
grief after grief
since they are repetitions
looking for their own beginnings?

(5) will they remember themselves?
the shadows
have hardened into reality,
the cages
ring with lost singing.

(6) you are your own mirror
placed on every wall
reflecting and reflecting
your effort to know yourself
as you will always do
for you are never completed 

(first pub. in Poets' Guild, 1997)


Today's LittleNip:

—Olga Blu Browne, Sacramento

Yesterday began breaking against the
edge of darkness where memory cannot

Listening to the sound of shadows, where
silence isn't always heard.

Behind this hour is the veil of death
and poetry's torn pages.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors! Halloween is coming, of course, and we're already receiving Halloween poems and pix, so let's have at it: our Seed of the Week is Halloween—and, hint hint, that's a very broad theme: everything from Day of the Dead to trick or treat to childhood memories of warm homemade donuts and frosty nights to Scary Bosses I Have Known. Stretch your mind around the season and send your stretch marks to kathykieth@hotmail.com.

—Photo by Joyce Odam