Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Looking for the Castle

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


I have been looking for the castle;
it was on this polished landscape;
it shone on the sky for days
while I traveled toward it . . .

then I came to this forest that was
deeper than it started out to be,
made of lost directions, moans,
and tangles, but I came through it . . .

then this blue desert—a night-scape
upon which pale figures mingled,
real as dreams, pointing and
fluttering their cold dresses . . .

and now I come to the
castle-landmarks and the signs,
though I can tell by now, up close,
that they are very old . . .

and some have fallen,
and here and there
a weeping person passes by
in the opposite direction . . .

but never mind, I think I see
a turret up ahead, and a tall
white wall, and a flag
of some kind, and a gate to enter . . .



I hear the cat’s voice, but the air is too thin to hold it.
It is another fairy tale, and the cat is under a spell. The
scene is a forest, as it always is, and I don’t know how
I got to a forest anyway.

The point of the story seems to be vanishing among
the trees, and the cat’s voice, too, until I am sure
I was mistaken, because the last page is missing.

The old dread has not yet settled down, and I don’t
expect it to. I suddenly realize I am writing—I am
making this up—it is all my own doing.

The cat’s voice is what I need to guide me through these
deepening trees—but where did the cat go? Where did
it take its path of mewling? How will I save it—or it
save me? How will I ever know the ending?  

(After Maurice Denis, Les Muses)

The muses come into being again,

slipping between the old trees
of the autumn forest.

They step among the painted leaves,
and more leaves fall.

They wonder at the quiet of
no need,    no duty,    on such a day,

They talk among themselves in the
golden air of time yet unfolding—

here—as everywhere—and there—
in the time to be. The plein air murmurs.

the muses pause     and more leaves fall.
Somewhere a need…     a plea….



two horses with two riders go
through a serene forest
show how unafraid
and how lonely
to be
and just let
the horses find the way
step by step and hour by
hour through the seasons that
come, one upon the other, with
no sign of guidance from the reins



She goes through the chorus of trees on her
bridal horse. She carries a bird in her hand
and wears a flowing scarf the color of leaves.
Her own song falls through the notes of the
others. Her attendant rides alongside, whispering.
But this is the forest of music that lovers use to
hypnotize each other. ‘She knows the way back
from her’ she assures the blindfolded one who
she makes wait beneath the only silent tree.


All night they struggled through the forest,
two creatures from the tale of woe,
doomed to create an ancient story
from myth to moral,

she being borne on the back of a handsome beast
who would protect her from the evil that
lurked at the edge of fairy tales
not yet written.



this yellow path through green woods
these pure surroundings not yet entered

the going
the arriving

the sky continuing
the world turning its timeless measuring

the way in

the way through

the way out

the entering and closing after, seamless



A dark shack
in a woods
edged with yellow flowers
and simple daisies
and tall green stems of
something thick and climbing.
Who lives here
among these darks and lights?
Whose little house
is huddled
in the closing shadows
that pull even deeper
into long, deep night?
No light is at the windows.
Does a face peer out?
Are we unwelcome,
passing by like this?
This seems a dream-place
of some ancient calendar
and we an unturned page
of our own travel.
Should we knock?
Should we ask
direction, or perhaps
to stay the night
now closing down upon
the last soft shining
of the flowers?


So vague, with only twilights now—no grand
announcement—no noticed entrance hanging
to an edge which is growing cold with shadow.
Bent years are turning our corners. How we envy
them, laughter behind us, weeping ahead—or is
that so? Is it weeping behind, and laughter ahead?
I don’t know.



this morning the red sun came up
hung above two trees
created the new day
we took chances
we rescued a silver dog
but it was blind and deaf
and old
or was it just a silver dog
of our kindness
tonight the red sun will lower
into the black trees
through wide clouds
made famous by forest fires
where it will bury the last howl
of our sadness

Thin white trees at night,

struck by light in a blue forest—
only the forest of patterns
and directions,
sunlight and moonlight
and green rain
that falls when needed.
White flickers of rain drops
make tiny reflections
on the boughs and leaves and
even the shadows that notice them.
Here, there is nothing to be sad about,
for no one has ever been here.
These are but words for a mysterious memory
of a soul not yet born to this sad world
of so much damage and lament.


Today’s LittleNip:


Ah, sweet bird,
sweet yellow bird,
with such keen eye and forest-heart,

wherever you go
a tree waits for your resting;
when you rest, tree calls to forest
and forest listens.

Your eye leads, and
the sky follows.


—Medusa, thanking Joyce Odam for today's fine poems and photos, and a note that our new Seed of the Week is City Life. Send your poems, photos and artwork on this (or any other!) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs.