Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Forever the Old Ruse

Candle Smoke
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento

           “I’ll get them to delay the train for Rouen 
            half an hour. The light will be better then.”
           "You’re mad," said Renoir.
                                      —Monet (Gare St Lazarre)

train silhouette at dawn,
passenger silhouettes in cold huddle . . .

the turbulence of time—
its railway tracks—its flurry . . .

night-fog dispersing its heaviness,
impatience of the hour . . .

long thread of excitement—anxious for
the ‘all aboard’—the long ride to here . . . .



The act of loneliness is hard to separate from the
comfort of some old reunion never made real—
only the abstract place and time—interruptions

in time, to redirect some wrong-way almost
taken.    Fate has its place in things.     Forever
the old ruse, the never reached, the far away,

the long reel of experience, though that is not
what you call it. You are here now with your
new page of yearning—as empty as ever—a

pocketful of words—pathos and whimsy. Write.
You sit and think out the window or into the dull
face of the clock, forever at war with you. You

open yourself and face the turmoil, or the little
incidents of memory that drift in and out of fog,
that other where of you. You are still lost.

A fastening : someone said red-winged bird—
and blue boat—and something less tangible
that was gone before you caught it, and that’s

the one you want—that image, that sound,
that something that turns and looks at you
with your own eyes that is not a mirror.
Oh, reach . . . reach . . . .

 Tree with Crows


Today the fog pulls me away.
I am the gray within the gray,
detached from traffic grope,
surreal with lost direction.
I follow the first meander of my mood:
past abstract, unknown neighborhoods;
past streetlights that smear the names
of street signs at unreadable corners.
The whole world sifts around me—
the sky on my car—my feeble headlights
trying to peer in far enough to get us through
to where distorting time determines I should be.

(first pub. in Bay Area Poets Coalition's POETALK, 2007)



I play Chopin, over and over, all morning and into the
afternoon, and fall into some old time that was his, and
feel how sad such distances become and how wonderful
to still connect.  And I am glad that I have made the reach,
and wonder about him: Handsome.  So young.  Tubercular. 
A genius.  On his way to early death—that stealer.  I feel
the gray day as tenacious as that, this day-long fog that
sifts into mind and mood and sorts out the music of my
bones.  I am in love with music that can use such gray to
enhance the misery of winter.  He must have felt the same
cold about his shoulders, in his composing hands, and so
created what I listen to today—hour after hour—how I
defeated for awhile that Sacramento Tule fog that stays
and stays and stays.

 Music Notes


That man
who runs around the football field
of the school
is so old
he is up to his knees in fog.

It is early summer
so he carries his fog with him
like a load.
He is a heavy runner
lifting his iron legs up to his chest
and throwing his head back
so he cannot fall.

He has been running
all morning.
The children have come and
played their games;
the sedentary people have come and
walked their dogs,
but none of them
has noticed the runner.

Now it is evening
and he is up to his waist in fog.
He is so desperate
and so weary.
slip from his arms like chains.
His heart is making its last try
before darkness.

(first pub. in MojoNavigator, 1973)


         After "Figure in Fog": Photo Credit: David Wagner;
         “The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you…”
         Text by Dag Hammarskjold

Walking into winter
as though lost upon its path,
a seam of light divides the way.

White shadows break aside.
You—or the one you watch—
recede, and you in loneliness remain.

The veil of thought is heavier
than light. What’s lost is lost
and cannot be reclaimed.

An easy mist will always take you in
where particles absorb all substance,
where the end of something must begin.

No warning works.
The figure walks away—your shadow
or your life—in transformation.

All is swirl:
the light, the dark—
the dark, the light—all turned to gray.

 Branch Over-Hanging


What of the white pallor of the sky
this day—this day without mercy—this
dimensionless day—this white-fog morning.

I test the skies with my gray look. How thin:
they could not hold me. I shall not fly
nor flex a dreary wing in agitation.

I may just sift against this day until I fit—
somewhere far or near—
it does not matter. I am in a drift.

Some wet bird lets a cry cut through.
I feel it reach and offer back my silence.
Nowhere does sensation end—

I am all of it—the monotonous pale light,
the few shapes wavering. The same bird
cries again. I open myself. I let it through.

(first pub. in Sac. Poetry Center's Poetry Now)

 Pink Clouds, Bare Branch


Your theme is not entirely relevant
to my reality.  How do I fit

your expectation—
fill in the numbered spaces,

like a jigsaw puzzle:
white on white,

the cuts identical and small
in a huge white box?

What kind of clue is this—
this map to your theme,

as vague as a white road
in fog, paved swirlingly,

and a white sound that cries
forever in patient melancholy?

What can I say to you
that would not get lost here?

The cry is my own, and the cry
is your own, so eerily blended.


Today's LittleNip:


It was the sea-light that came from nowhere
and extended all over the metaphor . . .

and it was the fog-light near morning that
remembered and warned of it all . . .

a shrill dog barking somewhere became
its interruption . . .

and the flow stopped . . .
like a poem started and never able to finish . . .


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's gourmet goodies, including her fog poems for last week's Seed of the Week. Joyce writes a lot about loneliness, and it's a lonely time of year for some people, so let's take up her challenge: our new Seed of the Week is Loneliness, whether it's people, animals, landscapes—or loneliness of the seasonal type. Send poems/photos/artwork about loneliness to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs, though.


Standing Wall