Tuesday, May 06, 2014

More Secrets

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento

(after Aubrey Beardsley Cover Design
from “The Savoy” #5)

whispering to her
in the twilight garden, holding her
to the intensity of his eyes

bending closer to her
while she goes pale and
follows the sincere angle of his

hand gesturing out to emphasize
and she becomes
wrapped in the cloying shadow of

his words, and presses, presses
into the disappearing tree
that presses back and swallows

every detail of her disbelief
enveloping her until she is one with it
and the secret he tells

and the ancient gargoyle
on the old stone wall
seems to agree…seems to agree…

its old stone face contorted
in a look of sculptured cruelty—
or maybe just the look that

the failing light puts there a moment
while its open mouth
and intense scowl seem

to contort in gleeful  mockery
and warn away
a distant, maternal column-figure

shining like a last thin shaft of light
across a closing moat of water
while he, still holding her to his

soft insinuations,
until she is seduced by all those words.



I would like to be
alone with my thoughts—

let them find me—
while I stare at a stone

or a leaf
and feel the path wander

away from my feet
feel the sky

the sun
the air

feel space

feel no other
near . . .

as I enter
the mind of the mind of the mind . . .

(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine)


In the slow deformity
of this hour
iron petals
fold against imagination
and the one-dimensional bird
unfolds his throat to sing.
The gate creaks with effort
and the garden vibrates
with metal sound.

Love’s ghost lingers
and can hear
the red rust growing
within the untended foliage.
The green
and moulding statues
keep their eyes
upon each other.
They remember



After supper
the old women will walk
through the garden,
limping their way
over the knobby ground
in search of beauty.

How wearily-content
their bodies
take to evening pilgrimage
so they can stand in color
and in fragrance
in an easy wind.

One will gather
a bright bouquet of duty
for the complimenting guest.
The other will accept
with thin protest.

And for the long,
gaunt moments that they
linger, they hang
like scarecrows on their bones
and watch the Iris
bending in September.

(first pub. in Poet and Critic, 1966)


World without pity,
buy my flowers.

I stole them from life
to sell to you.

I cannot speak the price,
my mind is too much shaking . . .

voice won’t come . . . though my hand
can take your money . . .

I will buy
more tremors.

World without pity,
buy my stemless flowers.

(first pub. in The University Review, 1967)



I seek the comfort of the flowers where
the garden is the darkest and the glare
of sunlight has not yet become aware

it does not reach beyond the dappled wall
where songbirds used to sing and so enthrall
—as though you ever needed song at all.

Your flowers are allowed to flaunt themselves
and scent the air but birds must hush themselves.

But here is where I go to listen still
to where the meadowlark would trill and trill
—and memory of this can thrill and thrill.

Your deafness will not let itself allow
the echoed singing that remembers how
it filled the happy heart that hates it now.

(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine)

Today's LittleNip:


Woman sitting in the garden
in stippled light
in artist pose.

The abstract light
plays with her face,
her thoughts, her clothes.

Nothing matters but the day
that turns the hours

The garden whispers,
spreads its shadows,


—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for our sumptuous Kitchen fare today! Our new Seed of the Week is After the Fire... Some of you may remember that a fire threatened our house last summer. Much of the burned area has recovered and is thriving, in fact (you should see the wildflowers!). Poets don't just think literally, though—there are lots of kinds of fire to write about. Passion that's burned itself out? Spent anger? A raging fever? Send your poems on this (or any other subject) to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadlines on SOWS, though. 

And check out the green box to the right of this for some new workshops and some new venues for submitting your work.