Tuesday, March 24, 2015

This Most Perfect Place

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


of pre-dawn
just after night’s blue rain.

Winds of no color
break through the night,
sending the dark green trees
and leaves into a flurry.

Even so,
small chirping sounds
of softest yellow
burst here and there.

A squirrel scampers
along a frail board fence
outside the listening window.

I hear all this through
a slow, reluctant waking,
gray threads
of dream-fragments tearing away.

Then comes
the soft gray blue
of morning : 6:00 a.m.
Just like the clock dial said.



The way everything changes color
when you look at it again, like shades
of turning light on the second day of spring,

like old moods gone crazy, becoming
new things.  A boy holds a colored scarf
in his mind.  It flickers orange, then blue.

His small dog dances on hind legs.
The rain patters around them and bounces off
his green umbrella.

Under his feet the small lake forms
and invites him to splash.  His shiny yellow boots
stand upside down in the water,

and he is happy.  A mauve shadow
passes over and becomes a menace.
The boy is stuck in his puddle

and the small dog is trying to beg.
The boy holds a purple world in his hands
and looks for an opening in it.

His face is turned away to his new divining.
Somehow the day contains all this
on a single page; it flutters loose then turns into

a small paper boat that drifts away…
like the wish… like the dream… 
like the thing come true in the small boy’s wish.


How serenely she wears
the art of the painter’s hand
who painted her all green—

or is it the deception of light
turning her into
a numinous map of the sea

that follows her contours
with shapes and symbols
of intricate design—

even to the closed mouth
and eyelids, the hair sculpted
into deep waves: how

ever swim back now
to the real
and lose all this… how

ever clothe, and hide
the breathing design of her body,
so perfectly stained…


After "Lines & Spaces" by Cynthia Hurtubis

And there are myths to be gotten over.
New ones to make up.
Tragedies to memorize, with their betrayals and…

it is a dance, never finished,
columns of light to glide between, distances
to measure, why not just let…

let’s take, for instance, green—a sky of it,
a wash of light, a suggestion
of birds lifting up in rainy conversations that…

‘trail’… is that the word you mean? Those blotches
are barriers. They could be anything that impedes
the dance, which is the metaphor here, as if…

smears of light are to be considered,
how they relate,
and the mystery of the four dark barriers…

brush strokes?
a reflection of yellow, like water-shimmer in…?

a square room, without windows or doors;
a dance floor; all those green shadows of movement,
other dancers with their invisible presences…

besides, there were five—five darks;
the blur hides one. You are to be forgiven—
you with your impatient eyes. Why do we always…

keep these shadows for reminders;
How perfect you are in this light; how beautifully
we dance together in our different rememberings.


I drag some beauty past your eyes,
some little laugh,
some tease.

It is not easy for me.
I am locked within the
anxious habit of our lives.

I’ve no more newness
in my smile.
My love’s a safe place for your own.


I want to change the danger of our days.
I try another path—
get lost—turn back—
your eyes are there,
continuing their dark.

You drag a bullet through the air
to kill some bird against the grass.
He flies away.
I croon my sympathy to each of you.


I wish I were a stranger to us both,
someone with large commandments,
easy ways,
with eyes that didn’t go
so deep as mine.

I give up the charade of trying to please,
undo my happiness
like some flown bird
who left the frightened sound
of such safe green.

After "Piranha Alley" by Ben Kaja

A basement window.
An alcove doorway.
The sallow green of city dusk.

Old writings on the door.
A dim light from the window.
Shadowy motion in the street.

Someone lives behind the door.
Someone stares up through the
basement window.

Something will happen here.
It is too soon.
Let us not tempt fate.

Footsteps on the sidewalk.
Then and now.
Never and not yet.

Sounds caution down to hear echoes.
There are none. Someone completes
the detour by turning the corner.



It is enough—all of it felt at once :
joy and anger—relief—the unwinding word.
How strong the yearn. 

And what does the yearn want—
something that it can’t have—something that it
does not know—whatever else is true. 

There is nothing here. 
Let us go somewhere else,
enter somebody else’s poem with our words for it.

Look how the light
shines green through these trees at night,
how we walk under them, wrapped in green shadows. 

Green night birds sing
(or is it only our thought of them) 
it was summer when we loved. 

Mirrors loved us—
mirrors with their impossible perfection. 
Should we have warned each other?

A long train came through the years
on its reverberating tracks,
always in some small hour toward morning.  

One of us was always on it,
leaving the other caught in the different dream,
unaware of such travel.


(Theodore Roethke)

Imagine the long dark of morning, the slithering aside,
the soundless whisperings heard above growing :

The ghost : come from the skeleton, come from the
flesh, come un-weighted by all, save death, moving
in deep sea-rhythm, made of the same stuff as wind,
looking around with new force—being both seed and
withered conclusion, both orchid and moss—moving
now to the source of love : Memory and its rhyme . . . .

Looking toward the glass distortion to the sky
(made of that light) the images in the glass :
Fragmented eyes that are green, struck blind by light,
glancings of time in shock-value of
timelessness . . . turning that look aside . . .

so out of death (whatever death is) the ghost, male
and aware, knows all that it gave old questions to,
dreaming back to all the error and concern—
teaching again, whatever next comes to learn :
All that moves here—all that is alive in the
grave-like dark, damp as a forest—are
transmutations, in stubborn life (whatever life is)

celebrating this most perfect place that is
everywhere, but here most especially :
Ghost of Roethke—putting it all back—
whatever was out of order—whatever was harmed.


Today's LittleNip:


what am I looking through :
far from my face

growing out of the mirror

the window behind them
reflecting twilight

I am so still the leaves begin to move
in the still room

for what do I yearn?
my unhappy face

caught in leafy green light
the room empty except for this

except for the leaves


—Medusa, thanking Joyce for today's toothsome titillations in the Kitchen today, and noting that our new Seed of the Week is Obsessions, Sweet and Otherwise. Tell us about your own obsessions in poetry, photos and artwork and send it all to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs.