Tuesday, April 28, 2015

White Room of Sleep

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento

 (After "Portrait of a Dream, 1953" by Jackson Pollock)
A face that is caught in a garish mirror
where colors gnash and light stabs.

Your life
is a white room of sleep.

Your mind holds a candle.
The flame wavers.

You stare through yourself
as if to escape :

you are a smeared painting,
your dream has defined you

against a wall of canvas.
You echo this—repulse,  

then admire—
held by your own stare,

by the anguish of the art,
rendered thus.

You have lost your power.
Such is the angry power of the dream.


Every exit is a word—

followed by a long red hallway
muffled by a gray silence;
some escape by following

the blue map of their lives,
past all the numbered doors
down the one-way stairs—

ghost-mingled and musty
with trapped shadows.
My hand follows a wall

for balance—reaches an end,
then another end—to a lobby
where inhabitants

look out of windows to the
blurry rain—so beautiful under
the streetlights

in the rain-light
that pours down my face
in reflection on the inner side of

the window by the door where others
enter and leave and emphasize
my deepest loneliness.

(After "Juxtapositions—Front Doors/Back Doors",
by Grace Bentley-Scheck, 1991)

The escape-house is green. Its steps narrow.
Its white banister gleams in the moonlight.
Its windows are boarded. Who lives there?
Its yellow door appears locked. (A ruse?)

Behind the high windows of a higher house
with the shades up, a figure walks back and
forth in the light—a restless
silhouette —unmindful of voyeurs.

Only the dreams escape from the houses,
huddled so closely together, holding each
other up, locking their shadows in—even
the one with the light burning all night.

The night swallows all the houses,
bits of all night music stream from the walls.
The yellow escape-door stays locked.
The white railing gleams in the moonlight.


(After CD Jacket: girl with butterfly and two birds)

Your hands are too small
to hold all that you desire.
The live butterfly
caught in your hair
will not love you for long.
The tethered swallow
you keep on a string
will escape
back to the wallpaper.
The beautifully feathered bird
you hold on a stick
will lose its will to fly away.
You are too innocent for such power,
to keep all that life as yours,
to possess and try to tame—
standing there in all your defiance,
as if you dare not believe me.

(From “The Cubist Poets In Paris”  by L. C. Breunig)
“At the back of the room a Christ was taking off
 Someone had a ferret
 Another a hedgehog
 People were playing cards
 And you had forgotten me”
                     —Guillaume Apollinaire


. . . when she let the opportunity escape
she went into a rage
became obscene and unbeautiful
        the small flowers
        on the glass
        in their delicate vase
trembled in the sun-
light that traveled to them
from the far window
        was never
        a consideration,
not even the soft evening tones
too soon gone
darkness was always close
as light is to darkness
or as any one thing is
to another
when one reaches for the specific
        or totally opposite
becomes what quarrels love . . .


(After "The Art of Poetry" by Yves Bonnefoy)
The curse is part of the mouth.
The mouth is innocent and led by the word.
The word is innocent of the mind,

The mind is contorted by the mouth

The word must be uttered to escape.
The mind must free the word through the mouth.

The mouth is obedient to the curse.


I am in a room of many women
each alone from the other
each a container of stories
each a silence worth listening to…

our dresses touch when we pass each other
in soft, aversive movements
when we are waiting our turns,
when we are measuring our restlessness…

shall we escape…
shall we be here forever in our
alien kinship—who are uniquely alike—
who are divided by our difference…

(first pub. in Calliope, 1992-93)



A bird winds slowly skyward
lifting a bronze shadow out of the murk.
It is heavy and lonely,
the last thought of a dying dreamer
who has heard the faint call outward.

What follows is grief, freed of weeping,
though it is heavy too
and folding like a weariness,
too much effort needed
to be free of truth and imagination.

A fan closes as if by itself, ending
the escape. The sky goes dark again.
Or stays bright. Who can say?
The delicate art is saved from eyes.
Nothing depicts.

Everything moves in relation
to everything else, even the stillness
which must breathe and wait.
A word is being offered to the silence.
A listener must make a choice.

Who am I to grieve over such things?
A dream cannot live without the sleep.
Let the bird go.
It is only your thought of it.
If it loved you, you will know.

Today's LittleNip:


what if I write love poems now
in couplets

like us
in certain dark

room to escape
room to step aside

where we
can think it over

and decide if love is safe
or all that necessary

for two who won’t trust


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her delectables in the Kitchen today! Say—what's in
your closet? Family secrets? or just a lot of junque? This week's Seed of the Week is In the Back of the Closet... Send your poems, photos and artwork about same (or any other subject) to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadlines on SOWs.