Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Edge of Summer

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


There is
too many of me
this morning.
I am plural of mind.
I am at odds with myself.
Too many of me
look back
through the mirror.
Too many of me
look in.
I wash my faces
with hands that
wear strange rings.
I know that below
the line of glass
I have no body.
I float in the room
like an incompleted drawing.
There is no touch in
my glistening fingers.
Now it is raining
in the room.
The sound of it
runs down the glass.
The ceiling light
is burning through my skin.
The paint of which I am made
is mixed too thin
and I am melting
out of time.
Some oblivious thought
keeps running
into my eyes.



This is the edge of summer now,
this slow hot dwindle, cooling at both ends of the days.

We press between, half wishing for the rains of change
to come—counting ourselves away from the long humidity.

We stand and listen to the small city trees—how at night
they murmur under street lamps. We look up at them

and feel the old sadnesses brimming—how could we lose
so much in so little a time? We take this measurement

inward once again and have no answer for it. We sway
and remark how beautiful the trees are in this light.

(After "In the Rain", 1912 by Franz Marc)

In the complexity of rain-light,
a city of distortion:

color upon color,
movement upon movement,

sound upon sound
as sirens bore through.

Red and green street lights
become a collage of confusion.

A faceless woman under a red umbrella
hurries through blurry faces

of misdirection—
a force after force of opposite-going.

And in a puddle of drowning light
a shivering white animal

looks back in trust,
then slips into oblivion to get out of the rain.



a day of gray
no rain
the green leaves flutter
on the nervous tree

I feel the gray air

I feel my breath escape
but not me

I passed a dead cat
this morning
by my gray car’s wheels—

a glance only—
quick as its death
its mouth was bloody

my life is in this drama—
broken piece of myself,
another whole piece, center—

when I drive home today
I will have forgotten
the dead cat . . .
the nervous tree . . .
the omen in the flat gray air . . .

maybe it will be


now we have these bones out in the rain
these gnawed and
chewed-out leavings.

safe from our decisions
they lie there smiling.

oh, they have known the bed
that comfort
that quality percale-count to the inch
when that was what they needed.

and they have sat
unobtrusive on chairs
in quiet positions
and they have walked
in tiredness and in beauty.

of our lives
we have given them the edges
not the center
our hungers are meager
we don’t complain.

now they are ruined and
somehow vulnerable to staring
stray dogs of us are greedy possessors
sleeping lightly.

and if the sunlight of summer is not fair
making satin shadows upon them
bleaching slowly there
what can we do
they belong to us
they are valuable
we have use for them.

(first pub. in Green Fuse, 1977)


THE RAIN            

I would belong to the rain
but the rain has vanished
to its own season.
Where is the memory of such need.

When I was in the desert
crying all the dry words that I knew
the rain was far away and different.
I was a delirious shimmering.

Now I am in another need.
I am the only child of my only mother.
She has died and left herself alive in me.
I weep under the absence of the rain.
I cannot taste my grief.

When I am sad enough to heal
I will drape my house with
the sound of rain upon cold things
that hold and echo back,
all night in a dark imagining of this,
the force and resistance
that is in every grieving.

(first pub. as “Rain” in Bitterroot, 1990)


Sad music filled night’s rain-charged air
and faded there—
blue sound
that seemed to make the candled-brim
of light go dim
around our mood

And then it rained.
The light
flared once and sputtered out. We wept
awhile. Then slept.
All night.



It is all rain on a winter street,
umbrellas floating
above the people

and in store windows
that seem to weep
with forgiveness and plenty.

Rain deepens the sidewalks
and flows down the swift gutters
into drains,

like a kindness,
like a pity.
It rains     and rains     and rains.

Today’s LittleNip:


when the force of the rain fills the night
and the streets turn to rivers of light
and the path of the cars
makes a splash through the stars
and the moon turns to shards, over-bright


Our thanks to Joyce Odam (who just turned 91!) for her riffs on rain, our past Seed of the Week, and a note that our new SOW is Dear Diary. What will you write in this mysterious book of yours? Tell it your worst day, or your best? Grocery lists, or most special secrets? Loves long lost, or plans for the future? Send your poetry, photos or artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs.