Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Hours of the Sleepless

—Poems and Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


Out of the harsh landscape comes
the lone shadow, out of the gray stone

of this place—out of the gray hour—
the vanishing sky, comes the bodiless

shadow—so lost there is no place
for it, only this desolation,

this astounding wilderness
with no creature or vegetation—

no line of horizon, or relief of water—
nothing here but the slow shadow,

displaced from its life, or its dream, or
only created for the duration of this poem.



Behind the soiled night glass, a bear on hind legs;
behind him a polar bear, one paw on a seal;
and farther back, a ghost-white mountain goat . . .

among all these, the blur of smaller animals,
of dusty fish and dusty birds.

But the window-bear commands the front of the shop,
his claws as long as my fingers, his brown glass
eyes connected to my glass-deep stare.

The window shifts, and I feel my breath in his chest
when the car lights pass;

and on the hearth-rug by the counter just inside
the door, a small round dog who does not bark
at anyone any more—asleep forever.

 (first pub. in Pudding Magazine, 2002)

 Night's Crow


All night the freed bird sings of the empty cage
while I—bereft of song—press hands to ears.
Though shadow comforts me, I close my heart,
will not believe the touch I cannot feel.
My eyes are hot with sorrow, tears refused.
What do I want? I do not seem to know.
Now rain beats at the window. Ah, that’s good;
I understand the rain, the streaming glass,
where something begs at memory like a wing;
I am the glass—I am the beating wing
that tests illusion. Now the rain has stopped.
The shadow has not left me. It is love.
At last I cry. I ask love where it’s been.
Am I the cage that love finds comfort in?

(Smith Sonnet, first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine, 2006)



I dreamed of a turtle, torn from
its shell—a limp and helpless creature—
formless and vulnerable, with a human expression

—trying to navigate as I
kept trying to hold its head up to let it
rest in my palm, where it went limp and sighed. 


out of the throat of some creature on a
frozen landscape—on hind legs perhaps,
stretched full, into sheer far-reaching anguishes . . .

or like the new-found cry of some new ghost
found reaching for a prayer—final and slow,
in the loosened, abstract grip of being . . .

it is all of this—this self-resounding proclamation—
seeking the way through one’s own terrible self
with such a cry as I am hearing . . . .


After “Song” by Federico García Lorca

The crying creature
magnifies the night with its cries. 

The round moon weeps into
the little pond—

there to hold all the tears
of the inconsolable creature

who has lost what it has lost
and feels what it must feel—

for its little heart is broken,
and its eyes are red from

so much weeping
and it cannot speak for its sadness,

and the round moon knows this and keeps
making little tear-circles in the pond.

 Melting Moon

         “The black oyster of night opens
            to release a white moon.”
                             From “Desolation” by Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni

The countless stars spill freely from the sky. The
white moon stares after them.  The cold darkness
pulsates as the sea accepts the stars that pulsate with
sensation as the stars touch the water. There is
nothing lost from the sky—nothing to prove of this.

Children at bedroom windows recite their prayers,
then sleep under the restive sky. The sea makes a
hollow singing that sounds like the wind. The moon
is a luxury tonight—a white wish for those who
used to be sailors. The sky takes back the moon
with a slow gathering of dark clouds. In city trees,
nightingales are easing the hours of the sleepless.

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine)



I fold my life in half until it fits. I tell my arrow not
to warp. I drift upon all ebbs-and-flows and do not
drown. I dare thin atmospheres of effort and thrill at
my accomplishment. I cross the cold blue deserts of
night until I find the warm heart of some safe creature
to lie beside. I explore thick forests of nightmare and
learn to waken. I dream the dream is real. I re-enter
days of endlessness that fill and fill with more of
themselves. I get through, moment by moment. I ask
the arms of heaviness not to drop me—to be patient
with my frailty. I fold my life in half again—my Self
to keep.

 Stepping Cat

Our thanks to Joyce Odam today for these fine images of our past Seed of the Week, Creatures in the Night! Our new SOW is Hot Coffee and Doughnuts. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the only civilized way to start any day, diabetes or not……..

For more about the (Charlotte) Smith sonnet that Joyce mentioned, see

Another note from Canary Editor Gail Entrekin: Our new book of poems centering around [her husband] Charles' experience with cancer, The Art of Healing (Poetic Matrix Press), was released on January 1st and is now available on Amazon. See www.amazon.com/Art-Healing-Charles-Entrekin/dp/0986060070/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451943441&sr=8-1&keywords=the+art+of+healing+entrekin

Note that this Thursday night, Jan. 7,  The Poetry Night Reading Series will host an Open Mic Night in Davis for poetry, short theatre, and music. (Two poems or 5 min., whichever is shorter.) Sign-ups at 7:30pm. John Natsoulas Gallery, 521 1st St., Davis. Host: Dr. Andy Jones. Free.

And Michelle Kunert captured some faces with her camera at the premiere of the new First Sunday reading series which took place last Sunday at the Albert Einstein Residential Center. Check out the photo album on Medusa’s Facebook page! Thanks, Michelle!


Today’s LittleNip:

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.

—Robert Frost



Black Zendala