Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Debris of Common Relinquishments

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


their subtle
their perfect size
and roundness.
(Aslant of perfect
for the word’s sake.)

How they
unusual and singular.
So many candy-fans
have no taste for them.
(I’m glad.)

It makes me part of
a minority—
epicurean and selective.
Halloween treat-bags always got me
plenty of black jelly beans
from the generosity of children.


And now there are crows in the city,
cawing upon the telephone wires.
I can accept all birdsong
that comes trilling
to my morning windows,
easing nature into mind,
soft against the hard,
like sudden things I like to find
in strangeness.
I can accept all lilac-guise
in winter.

But crows come in like war,
startle of dark
that makes a ragged scratch
upon the clock,
that makes a frantic waking
into fright.
Crows break the flimsy cages
of the night,
half-lifting their black wings
against the thudding
of the heart.

(first pub. in Imprints Quarterly, 1968)


what is this pall
of spirit

upon me now
I feel
like something heavy

something heavy upon me
a pall

upon my spirit.
I hum in my soul
that prisoned bird inside of me

in a little songless cage
hooded with my life
how it hurts there

it is all I can do
not to free it
it is all I can do not to let all the dark out

so the flood of light can enter 
and cleanse the soul-bird
how I want to hear it sing.


Shadow-bird finds the deep canyon of sleep,
follows the thin directing stream
until it comes
to the vulnerable alley of night
with its haunt of houses.

The hurrying sky
pulls the clouds in the other direction.
Shadow-bird enters the restless dream
of a boy who is frightened of the dark
—cries out.

One of the windows opens and lets the bird in
the boy
—becoming Shadow-Bird,
remembering back to some un-
wounded wilderness where it was not extinct.


I hear you crying
in the frightening world
of yourself,
but unless you come to me
I cannot make anything
easier for you.

If you let me,
I will hold you for a moment
and you will feel better.

Anna Akhmatova POEMS 
Selected and Translated by Lyn Coffin
“…she simply recognized grief.”
From the Introduction (xxi) by Joseph Brodsky

Our little song of grief—how can we bear to sing it
any longer; your voice goes thin with fright—

mine changes timbre;
why should we harmonize away this night?

Oh, Dearest, such a rage of sorrow do we know,
though time has softened us.

Look how the light touches the sill a little less
and yields to shadows—ominous.

Oh, Pale One, draw the shade against it all;
let’s hold each other while we can.

I fear the knocking at the door
for what wants in.


Sometimes I feel a soft butterfly-
shadow and a darting flicker of light
and a movement that precedes the
shadow by a precisive moment—

then a flash of color wavers by
and enters a waiting mirror
and I feel myself follow into
the same mirror as the shadow.

A brief flash of color overtakes
the shadow and I feel a change
of mood—and being—as I become
the butterfly that evolves. I am

both frightened, and enchanted,
for there is no time in the mirror
and I do not know how
to follow the vanishing butterfly.


The amnesiac soul floats in music and sends its shivers
everywhere, shines for the life it was, for the moment it
is, for the place it cannot enter.

Wisps of sound fasten to the under-parts of noiseless
movements.  Wings come through the invisibility here.
I can feel them lift me.

How did you find me amid the debris of common
relinquishments? All I ever wanted is in that glare I
cannot see through. It frightens me now to look into
such blindness. I have never been this thorough with

This would have been the turn of life in the poem of
some other hand—some space of love gone empty
again and not to be remembered.

Efforts and energies come to release me—those birds
I always tried to follow. I remember nothing here.
I look beyond myself. I am part of the vast and
continuing movement—speck of crying. What is love.


Today's LittleNip:


Hark to the moan in the attic.
Creep up the ladder or stair.
Find what is making
that sound—unloose
the frightening old thing there.


—Medusa, noting that our new Seed of the Week is Tricks, Treats and Treasures! Send your poems, photos and artwork about that—or any other subject—to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs.