Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Let's Talk About Regret

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


Under the ladder she goes, charmed thing, black as
a superstition, crossing your path, stepping on every
crack, licking the salt you throw over your shoulder.

Avoid her eyes, if you fear such things. A cat is a
cat is a cat—to herself and all others. Hide your bird
and your pet mouse. Give up your house, it is hers.

She loves the tops of things. And windowsills. The
bird in the grass and the bird in the tree interest her
particularly. And she’ll want you to keep your lap

available. Might as well love her—give her a name,
though I doubt that she’ll answer to it—being a cat
is what she’s all about—

all else is incidental to her being.


restless rivers

running narrow     
running wide  
sometimes deep 

flecks of sunlight
moon flecks at night

the underneath is lost
to all the consequential
flow of them

whatever stays      whatever goes
names the rivers…
each calling…   each drowning….


The moons of heaven
pluralize and drift—
how much time they take
is a moot concept;
they change and travel—
the trapped sky—
trapped by the moons.

We try to imagine
how this
is so,

why the moons
come and go,

across the sky’s
vast reach,
until we know.

Our questions
still beseech
the envious mind
for answer—
the moons
but a focus of image,
through which all our
truth and doubt seek transfer.


(after Aerial I, oil on canvas by Erin Noel, 2003)

From here, a numbered painting—
no detail—just circles and
squares marked with plane-shadow,
an unfamiliar landscape on a travel map.

To get there, one has to cross seven mountains,
three rivers made of winding and a much-used
sky-path—high enough for geese.

If you have come this far, you are homesick—
long for that small blue square to pull you down,

be a place you recognize─something to land for.


There is something that repeats itself
until, like dripping water,
it is known.

Like dripping water it is known
as some tired truth
or maybe just a single mouth—

a single mouth that opens,
making a simple howl upon a word
gone deaf as a prayer, say—deaf as

a doubting prayer in the numbing mind
of argued doubt. Oh who can argue
rightly or wrongly here, when,

rightly or wrongly, the terrors build
and take their timeless place
inside the heavy-minded head.

Inside the head, chaos turns to
old monotonous dreams where there is
always something that repeats itself.



Nothing ever fits the way it should,
not even perfection
with its hidden flaws.

All lies are believed
and all truths doubted.
Believe in this:

it is the stuff of philosophy
with its ragged pages
turned and turned by patient fingers.

What’s moved is light—
the control-factors—
the switches—the commands.

What do you believe?
Laws are built to topple.
What else is true?

How many times
have we tested
the shaky bars of our own cages.


What’s never is now. What’s the use
of hiding it? It will out, as it will in.

Heavy with doubt, we reassess.
Excuses—ever what we use.

Why confuse this
with fact.

Fact is an act.
Act 1.  Done.

Pure nonsense?
How pure?

Mix this
with that and drink slowly.

In a hurry, she asks?
Here is only here.

Elsewhere is nowhere.
Here is here.

Spinning. A gold child in the center of
her spin. Look. She is happy. She can spin.



I—alone—walk among others
and am alone.

I walk with my shadow
which forgives me my singularity,

which has no wish to become part of
any other shadow.

Thus, we are never
estranged from one another

and are ever faithful
to our singular existence.


I will walk upon the surface of thought 
that is much like the density of light
on the surface of water.

I will pass through substance and
emerge unbroken; I will look through
my reflection and become transparent.

Raindrops will splatter my eyes awake.
Love will demand everything of me.
I will make a trap for it.

My song will benefit silence.
I will echo for all time
my life substance.

I will enter all directions at once
with my curiosity.
Answers will not need me.

I will not mourn one moment over
another, any more than I will praise it.
I will become nothing, then all.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her prestidigitations in the Kitchen on this Veterans' Day, 2014, and a note that Joyce Odam and Laverne Frith, long-time editors of the poetry column in Senior Magazine (now called Living in the West), have been featured in the current issue; see livinginthewest.com/. Congrats also to Joyce and to the other winners of last week's Ina Coolbrith contest.

This is one of those hit-the-ground-running weeks in NorCal poetry, especially this coming Saturday, when you're going to have to make some hard choices. Scroll down to the blue box (below the green box at the right) to see all the glorious events coming our way this week.

While you're scrolling, check out the Webilicious section of the green box. I've been inspired to change it on a regular basis. Click on the red web for the current article, which is about John Keats and our last Seed of the Week, Doubt. (Love the website title, "No More Wriggling Out of Writing"!)

Time for another Seed of the Week. Let's make it seasonal, since we have such short transitions in our area: Autumn Rainbows. Are those the leaves, with their final explosions of color? The sidewalks and streets covered in amber and gold? Or the first rain, leaving her traces as rainbows in the sky? Or something more metaphoric…? Send your musings (poetry, artwork, photos) about this or any other subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com—Joyce has already gotten us started with her lovely leaf photos. No deadline on SOWs, though. Let the Muse do what she will…


Today's LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Let things become as they will be.
Fact then assumes fiction.
Dry facts. Exotic fiction.

Rituals need substance.
Holy and unholy. Iconic knowledge.
Let us bless. Let us pray.

The answers come as mystery.
Mystery assumes its own necessity.
Thus do we believe what we believe.