Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Gasp of Warning

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


(After "Water", photo enhancement 
by D.R. Wagner—first appeared in 
Medusa's Kitchen)

Now water separates against the land.
Now earth has broken away.

Now there is only sky and water;
there is only dream,
with its ancient illusion.

The sky is caught in blue reflection
of nothing there.

Where is the gasp of warning—
the change that will change
again—surge back against

the awesome beauty of destruction.
Is this but a held breath:

time’s elasticity
that lets go a cosmic sigh
that settles back into forgiveness?


Over the golden tundra  (?)
in leaps and bounds

the gazelles
follow the cloudy sunlight

flickering across the dunes  (?)
like teasing moments

of daylight.
Everything is tawny:

the earth against the hoof prints
left by the running of the gazelles.

Forget destination and distance,
it is the in-between of this

that dazzles the perceiver—
the stillness caught

between each leap—
these moments of un-endangered joy.

 Birds Perched Between Trees


It was the hollow world we entered
with our dream of entering—
with our knowledge of being there.

It was the far room at the end
with its wavering wall
that held firm for our entrance.

And then, the vast potential—:
we could paint everything with our minds:
mountains,    sky,    earth,    our own seas;

we could invent eternity.
How eager we were,
pouring over imagined blueprints.

Oh, the birds we created—
the marvelous jungles and cities,
children of no cruelty;

The weather was divided
into seasons with no extremes.
We balanced everything

to perfection . . . and then,
we left it there . . . slipped out of our world
before it knew of us.



I want to write about the corn
but these hard kernels of dull gold
fail to remind me of
all I know about the corn…
     the way it listens in the summer for
     the wind that always finds it…
          the way it speaks
          and moves from speaking…
               rustle bend rustle rattle bend.

This wrinkled corn in my earth hand
cannot pretend to be the
the finished product of my eye,
cannot acclaim itself that far…
     this dried up
     secret thing…
          with all its miracle inside itself
          in my cupped hand…
               waiting to begin.

(first pub. in In a Nutshell, 1979)


I am in a doorway, bracing against it.

I am as tall as it is and can easily touch
both sides, yet I am a child; and in reality,
the doorway is huge.

I am in an earthquake. Behind me the dark
bulk of the house is shuddering with noise;
outside, the house is blurring and shifting as
if there were no stability left in the world.
I cannot move. I freeze to the doorway,
which is white and smooth. I fasten to the
white smoothness, close my eyes and wait.

I am an adult now. The doorway has
regained its true size—a flash of something
has brought me back and forth in time at the
first recognizable rumble:

Earthquake…? My imagination…?



blue background
a merging of violent colors
paint flowing across the sky

the sun
melting the core of the earth
mountains forcing through

the air
a releasing sigh
a gasp

the last red sunset
all this
in a momentary flare

of thought
a last brilliance of mind

dark reality
stillness exploding
nothing but sky to bear all this

 Two Pears


in the sky
like a high
promise made of sunset
and voice of, say, God, in His Most

Religious Moment—shining there
like a private illusion        not at all
(un)like some Neon Cloud Formation
made of pollution dust

in a windless sky—the ocean blazing beneath it
with shimmering red light from
the disappearing sun and lapping against the

consciousness of everything
even the silhouette of the very earth…
the breathing trees…   the (un)breathing stone
picked up at random and carried in a pocket

where some divining hand can feel the comfort
of it—oh, sweet digression—
you have carried me away from

The Number In The Sky which seemed so vain

with its self-congratulation—and was
so admired by the (un)discerning
and the envious—like an ad for happiness:
Oh, One;    Oh, Zero;    Oh, Ten

 Yellow Leaves, Cloudy Sky


all the efforts clang like uphill trains;
or boats in fog;
or the distance from drowning
at the edge of the shore

like the slow grief of water
wanting to be born
but the earth is slow
and the air cannot remember

all the sleepers are dead, so there is
no dreamer—one far-off poet
remaining in words,
those prisons of inarticulation…

every sorrow has a name—whatever
you call it; whatever you want and
cannot have; whatever you lose and cannot
find; whatever you explain to unhappiness

if there is a reason for healing
let it not be this one
there is too much to do yet,
too much loss and too much grieving


Today's LittleNip:


I will take the sad earth of myself
and make a poem.

Hear me.
Speak me well.
Arrange me in lines of sound.
Your eyes will know when to pause.

I will be hills
and more hills.
I will be
bleak weather
and go barren of everything.

I will be
desert stretches of emphasis.
No map will cure me.
I will not come to an end when I am done.

I will begin again,
I will begin again.

(first pub. in
Parting Gifts)


—Medusa, noting that our Seed of the Week is Sisyphus, taken from Joyce Odam's LittleNip: "I will begin again, uphill..." Send your poems, artwork and photos about Sisyphus and that huge stone in your life to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs, though.

Blaze of Maple