Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Brooding Into a Mirage

Birds on Wires at Treetops
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


You are brooding into a mirage
of broken images—the oblivious city
through a café window—
an idle glance in aftermath—
as from a future: you make out
the details—is that a dance or struggle—
she is blurring into fragmentation;
she cannot hold herself; her features
are terrible; he is reaching out to her.
Change the reality:
you have poured through the glass; 
you are the one in fragile distance;
you are both self, and image of self;
let the blue arm of his gesture
reach through the sorrow and console you.
Dusk now. Lights come on. It changes
everything. Sounds press in. The blue arm
has caught the one who is you,
but you are still falling. The waiter
is coming toward you: They are all out
of tears. Do you care to substitute?



Fragmentary. This old light out of older light. Repetitions.
Believe in it. Let it lead you into its farther self. You can
go as deep as you dare. Its name is night. It has many stars.
Count them. Take forever. A child sits watching you,
blowing soap bubbles into planets. Wings without angels
fly everywhere. Oh, this is such a night. Go with joy, that
old foe of sorrow. Tell the child not to cry. The child
does not listen. The child rubs an old tear into its eye,
watching you for pity. You are both lost and at home in
this night-city which has opened up its wing for you. Do
not try to understand this—you are not here. The child has
dreamed you. Hold the child until you die.

(first pub. in Blue Violin, 1999)

 Crow on Pole

“And the monkey said, this is not my city…”
                                 —Mansoreh Moramedi

On the border of light is a place I know—
a valley that deepens every year,
or the mountains rise,
or the sky lowers.
Sunshine finds it
again and again
with spokes of light
and fading brightness
at night.
Clouds feel drawn
as they drift over and try to stay
but fog can be trapped for days,
for weeks. Birds
are becoming
the people know not of—
they live
in tight little houses,
rooftops touching
where buildings rise into
a crowded future and flash
their extensive windows and
crush their shadows between.
Roads lead in—
and out—
and in again.
Restless streets and cars
play chances with each other
and the valley stretches out, and up,
to make room for more.



Sirens full of loss, looking through streets
for addresses that hide in their brief
tragedies, how the city swallows up

such sounds as a small indifference,
or the passing interruption of
irritation and curiosity,

or the listening—
to see if the sound is going
in the direction of loved ones

before turning back
to self-involvements
and connections.

It is
There should be no sirens.

 Sidewalk Cracks

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.



Wearing some thin garment
on her thin body
with the slip-
ping shoulder straps—

singing her scarf and
sandal song in the city,
deep-eyed lady
with a face so long there is

not enough sadness for it,
turning her head
just when I
want to touch out to her

and ask if she is real,
knowing she will
put her hand
between us

to emphasize her non-being;
and how, when it is winter,
she will wrap herself
in lost-soul clothing

so I cannot find her—
passing by me and
averting her eyes, though I stand
on corners—begging—looking for her.

 Rainy Sidewalk


The woman shopper
cuts through
the city’s graveyard,
a wheeled cart,
pulling her daily meaning
through the finished
leaves that beak
beneath the mourn
of old, dark trees.
She does not look
at death
or its inscriptions—
she is too imminent
for that.
She walks in her own
in the cold and stippled
thinking of supper.


After Street Scene, 1936/1937 by Mark Rothko

She has become increasingly lonely,
her frail shadow follows her
on yellow city walls,

trying to retain connection,
her inner self cajoling:
Let me out.

take little note of her.
She is inward-bound,

her eyes a little wild,
her face
suspiciously closed.

The buildings
closing in
entrap the crescent moon.

Poor city moon—
as lost as she is—casting no light—
claiming no direction.

 Red Leaves on Lawn


i in my little black dress
went mourning

went sea-sickly
down to the sand

went neon-griefed mourning
down to the city

took everybody’s hand

told them where
i was going tomorrow
when the sun came over the sky

told them where i had been today
with my deep-looking eye

then i winked when they
opened their mouth
for a pity

told them midnight was waiting

and I must run forth
to deathlessly marry

(first pub. in The Hearkeners Chapbook, 1973, Charas Press)

Today’s LittleNip:


Unable to breathe
city man
longs for deep woods

for green silences
for snap of little sounds in
night’s sharp cold

for long hill to climb
to find
a virgin place

in which to plant
the acorn that he carries
in his pocket.

(first pub. in
Driftwood, 1972)


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix, and a note that our new Seed of the Week is Family Dinners. Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other subject) to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWS.

Also note that there is a new photo album on Medusa's Facebook page: "Busy Weekend in Sac. Poetry" by Michelle Kunert. Check it out!


Sparrow on Fence