Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Trickery of Light

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam


He wants her posed in a field of yellow
flowers—as if asleep—

her black hair prearranged around her in
a coif of curls—

as if surrendered—as if dead—appearing

under a modest scatter of daisies that keep
her nudity in good taste,

while he—from his levitated perspective—
claims her with his camera.



She is silky beautiful—like a yellow waft
of imagination posed between pillars of light,

her yellow gown blending with the quiet air,
soft as some ghost of memory. She haunts

the startled eye of the late observer—come
to sundown with the terrible weight of heart

and mind, grown apart like love and non-
love—all somehow blended with the sheer

duplicity of want and surrender. Only the lost
redeem how this is so: the sudden emergence

of myth, no longer sought or wanted, but
exquisitely mourned for a passing moment.


(After "In the Sunlight",  c. 1893, by John Henry Twachtman)

You paint her there, sitting in mottled sunlight
in the garden, in a long blue dress
and a wide hat that shades her face,
with a footstool for her patience,
though she calls for a respite from your art.

The archaic garden melts its yellows around her,
fusing her arms to the arms of the chair;
pink shadows breathe in the scented light—
like echoes of her breathing—
her loose-petaled roses.

And deeper back,
the sallow green of muted shrubbery
rustles with anticipation,
waits to enclose what is left of the warmth
of the tired day’s ardor. 

And in this slipping light,
the sun-streaked ground
pulls down into a brush-swirl of incompletion,
and you hurry,
but the blue has softened and blurred.

So you give up the day—
leaving her there—
catching the late light in her lap
as it lowers around her,
suffusing the edges of her composition.

She is perfect now;
you can reclaim her forever—as she was—
in this unfinished summer
dwindled down to a memory you keep
to remind yourself of how you loved her.


They sit in two bulging chairs,
lonely for themselves,

two quarrelers consoling
their efforts at conversation.

They have brought all their miseries
with them,

stuffed inside
like suitcases full of stolen things.

Everything is locked inside of them,
too heavy now to save—

too heavy to throw away.
Their happiness depends on

something vague,
brought here for revision.

They have not yet
unpacked. They have not written home.

The room shrinks around them,
their heaviness filling the room to saturation.

The heaviness grows heavier.
He stares into her questions.

She stares into his answers.
They cannot move from their chairs.

Their hands are too heavy
to lift from their laps in any gesture.



The yellow house stands shimmering in the dusk,
revisioned by the sunset and the day,                 
engulfed within a swathe of golden light
that backlit birds fly through and disappear.

It almost feels as if there might appear
a revenant who seems comprised of dusk
emerging through that swiftly turning light
seen only in last moments of the day.

Everyone knows the dying of the day
is when old hauntings tend to reappear—
those thoughts you harbor, conjured out of dusk—
that flesh of shadow—trickery of light—

those indescribable tones of dying light
that make you feel you too might disappear
in sacrifice—surrendered to the day,
and you become a revenant of dusk—

dusk-motes that swirl and pull you through the day—
that burn of light where time can disappear.

(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine)



passing the
country by train . . .

yellow blur of
time between towns . . .

fields growing up around
the legs of stationary cows . . .

farm houses low behind
fluttering clotheslines . . .

the thin and narrowing sounds
of the train whistle . . .

small figures shading their eyes
and staring . . .

the imaginary sounds of shrill dogs
barking . . .

the ineffectual fences tilting off
into windy distances . . .

and the near fences holding their birds
from entering or leaving . . .

the telephone poles, too dizzy for counting
the hypnotic lulling, as if this were a forever . . .

transparent window-faces pulling the scenery by . . .
passing the country by train . . .   a long time ago . . . .


Too far this time—
all the way to the golden season
that veers
just as we almost reach
that ragged tree
those tracks
that pull off here and there—
going where,
that soon, that late,
when time was trusted,
and what still lies in
that green mass of trees,
un-entered yet—
such peril of the heart, in its rush,
in all the trust, with no signs
to tell us how to go
to the somewhere
we imagine—
all is slow—slow for awhile—
while time changes pace,
and there we are—at the forest
of all that comes to us, eventually.


(Five Katautas*)

Where does that gate lead?
There are thorns on the roses.
watch out for the yellow ones.

Who has called me here?
Your note has been delivered.
The torn pieces flutter down.

Where are the songbirds?
A pool of sunlight glitters.
Bright wings shatter everywhere.

Does silence listen?
Cold shadow aches to be held.
The gray bird sings for itself.

What has displeased you?
Time has become motionless.
All the mirrors are empty.

*Katauta: Japanese syllabic form (5, 7, 7)
A question, followed by an indirect answer.

(first pub. in Noir Love, Rattlesnake LittleBook #2, 2009)


—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam, who chose the yellow aspect of daffodils for her poems today. Our new Seed of the Week is similar, since Thursday is the solstice: Sure Signs of Spring. Think out of the box: burmuda shorts? Daylight Savings Time? Kids groping each other in the park? Tell us about what you see as sure signs of spring in poems, photos, artwork and send your musings to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs though; ferret through those of our past in the link at the top of the page called Calliope's Closet for more ideas.