Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thin November

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam


I saw your rags of web drift by in the
winter sunlight—swift and purposeful;  
one web caught against me—not
unpleasant, but somehow aversive;

and I watched your russet leaves
tremble off the trees that shone in the
sunlight—and the gold ones, too—
and I walked right into them;

I felt the swift blue motion of your sky
as it changed color and made me watch it
for prediction. But I was in a hurry, too—
too soon and too late with myself;

and, oh, the eager pace of the shadows
when the day lengthened—or shortened;
I wasn’t sure which way time went—
but, oh, the pace of the shadows.


At the end of a long street
I see you walking toward me.

You pass window after window
without looking in.

Doors around you open
and close.

You enter none of them.
Children run past

and you disappear
into the swift shadow of time.

It is already autumn.
Will we remember each other?

(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2011)


Winds lie broken
in your hands.

You hold them
in your quiet moment.

All the beauty
that has made you real

has met the silence
of your eyes.

What has gone wrong
is love.

You mourn it
in a lack of sighs.

O weep soon! you of
the bitter, golden eyes.

(first pub. in Imprints Quarterly, 1967)

After "Four Trees", Egon Schiele

This is the story of four trees,
aligned on a rolling ground

—above, the layered sky,
the fierce red sun—

the four trees turned to fire
in the churning light—

ablaze in fiery vertigo
as the panoramic sky pulls by,

and the red sun sinks into the
old blue hills that wait to bury light,

and the four trees change back
into familiar silhouettes.


Sidewalks are strewn with leaves
from city trees, falling in red and golden
patterns of falling.

Some pedestrians pick up leaves for
book pages as reminders of what falls
in the seasons of falling.

Street pigeons tell where is where
and cars and people take turns
stopping and going.

Rude sounds
intrude upon rude sounds
grating on nerves that quiet craves.

Crows claim fields and telephone wires
and trees where they squabble and
scold with cantankerous voices.

In little cubby-hole openings of buildings
small birds make nests and live their lives
amid ours, so crowded against them.

Pigeons line rooftops and telephone wires
and at dusk—flurry up—white-patterned—
against the pieces of sky that open for them.


How can we tell the tree from the sorrow?
They are both the same. Leaves convey
the same feeling as tears on a moving face.
The wind loves this and comes murmuring.

The trees bend in the murmur
like a dancer fluid with many movements.
The rain remembers and returns.
The rain is the wind’s tears.

Trite! Trite!
Scream the crows.
But the women continue weeping,
the women who are the crows.

Old! Old! Cry the saplings,
and they preen in the rain until golden—
they preen until a sad old face
looks at them from a long drought.

But they are fastened now
to the last of the memories.
Lost! Lost! Screech the crows which are
blights on the air, disassembling.

But the trees are the wings of the air
and they lift into bright pretensions,
patterns that entangle with the crows,
and they claim each other.

In the first memory is the innocence; 
in the second memory the sadness is born;
the third is the prediction, since it is the memory.

(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2009)


Today's LittleNip:


In thin November, in the land of howl,
with nothing left to suffer but the cold,

more penetrant with every breathing moan—
that disapproval of the self—the self alone;

the bitter moon looks down—as cold and far
as winter life can get, in thin November.

(first pub. in Acorn, 1999)


—Medusa, thanking Joyce Odam for today's delectable delicacies, and noting that our new Seed of the Week is Blessings of the Season. Send poems, photos and artwork on this or any other subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs, though—or blessings.