Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rag of Prayer

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


It is the violet time of evening.
The day slows down. Quickens. One is
the other. The color of night begins.

I stretch out one hand toward nothing,
feel myself begin. It is the tone of silence,
that hum…   that feeling…   that spiral…

gray light in swirl and vibration…
ascending and descending in a single
motion, caught by the target of sleep.

Coolest blue light, a wash of miracle,
creates morning one more time.
Dark streaks of song are heard—

birds of delirium. The wakened
do or do not notice. What is there
is there. What is gone is gone.

There is no cry of envy.
The dead have not released themselves.
The living have no such power.

I pull the effort after me. It is death
and life. It is rag of prayer.
It is word of vast commiseration.

I wipe the silence clean, like a counter,
look into the mirror of myself and
become at once what I have never seen:

invisible, spectrum of chaos,
fastened to life by a single image,
the violet time of things.


It was always the gulls
with their hollow screeching
and white wheeling flight
that I loved . . . .



When we started out
it was one time,
when we arrived it was another,

though with no clock
or sundial
to lead us into

the abstraction
of whatever time is—
we filled the assignment

by our perception of it—
moment by moment,
and eternity after eternity.


I’d rather go to Timbuktu.
I’d rather go to Spain.
I’d rather go to anywhere
there is a little love to spare,
there is a little rain.

There is a little rain in Greece.
I think I see it fall
upon the maps and calendars,
upon the days that never were;
it’s coming down the wall.

It’s coming down the wall to here,
this too familiar place,
this old locale, this town of woe;
but there is nowhere you would go.
I read your homesick face.

I read your homesick face—self-world
that never traveled far.
I would not go to Timbuktu
or Greece or Spain except with you.
Let’s just stay where we are.

(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine, 1998-99)


oh touch the gray folds carefully
they are so thin
and hang in such despair

they are the sighs and tears
of all the children
caught against the years

but we must pass among them
to the world

look how they tremble
making little wounds of swish and tear

oh there!
a butterfly has brought his only love
love is so sheer

the gifts of dying flowers
linger here
as frail as incense
on the careful air

a lullaby is humming its goodnight
and we must hurry
through the failing echo of the light

and we should leave a payment
something small
a smile if we can manage
or a prayer



for purple candles
and for music
for some lazy time of

for light that falls in a
certain way

where you like to look
there light the candles
play the music

let your thoughts be tranquil
close away
whatever needs closing

in a place of private storage
under purple tassels
and embossed shadow

leave open
what you love
life is yours
give it your happiness

Today's LittleNip:

YEARS LATER           

Years later
I took my arrow from the wall
and wondered, which way now, old traveler,
where must I send you now
that I must follow?


—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's lovely bouquet of poems and pix! In fact, our new Seed of the Week is Flowers Were Delivered To Me Today, triggered by all of Joyce's beautiful photos and by one sent to me by B.Z. Niditch, who's going through some health issues of his own (see his photo in the green box at the right of this column, and thanks for the idea, B.Z.!). And why did you get flowers? A secret lover? An apology? A bereavement? Send your poems/photos/artwork on that subject (or any other!) to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs, though. When it comes, it comes, yes...?