Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How to Reach the Self?

 —Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

      After Tulipa, pastel by Maria Sylvester
It’s in the feature known as
background—a drooping red flower,
huge crowding leaves for the hiding,
petals grown too heavy for the light,
the ineffectual light—caught
in a mottlement of shadows,
urgent daubs of green and splotches
of orange that overwhelm the flower.

The breezeway trembles with confusions.
The shade has lost the light.
Someone has died here.
A death-bird sings in the absence.



I am a mad doll with torn hair and broken face,
doll-tears and yellow tangles all over the pillow

in the dream of a sick child who holds me
in thrashing sleep.  I can’t get free.

Come put her other arm around you, thus.
Come play in the dark with me.


Here is
where the dark

life fathoms; where dense
figures move about and call

themselves shadows; where arms reach
out—and pull back in—at the touch of light.  

(first pub. in Lilliput Review, 2003)        



In the murk of remember,
a torn page lies waiting
for this poem:

I prefer the damaged—
the substandard—over the
sleek perfection of unmarred pages;

I favor this wrinkled sheet with its fading,
its stain from some old spill, its torn corner
from an uneven stack of such pages.

This page will do for my first draft
of whatever poem will come to me—
those phantom words I try to find

to honor the imperfect moments,
the illusive and unexplainable,
unworthy of acclaim.

I would dig deep into the rising
of mind-fragments for
what I would say

in empathetic musing
that would mean
the way my heart feels when it is broken.


The dark horse whirls. The lovers cling.
     Forever is a game they play.
          The other horses blur in tune.
               The children seem to disappear.
                    The lovers grow too old to care—            
                         they’re drawn too quick to be aware
                            of all but holding on to time—         
                             in rhythmic pull the horses lift           
`                          and try to win the fastened race.     
                         The platform strains against itself.       
                    The colors fade to black and white.
             The time is day. The time is night.
          The horses creak, and rear, and bring
     the circles back to where they were.                
The dark horse whirls. The lovers cling.      



It was the little things that broke us, like a dish
from soapy hands, or the deliberate glass flung

to the floor—or any such urge, regretted or praised
for its effect upon weeping—like a dam that breaks

and spills water all over your life, and you drown.
I held a knife against my wrist, or maybe it was you

with a gun against your throat. Or maybe this is only
metaphor—harsh examples to impress. There was

always the recovery of sense and balance. A few more
words, a few more deflections. Life was good, we said

and must be paid for with suffering. Even at its worst,
there is this need—this terrible need to love. 


It is the night of penetrant dark—deep lapses into
sorrow—that old state of being, vague and distant.
How to reach the self?

The mirror does not help—does not know the eyes.
There is no light for the mind which is delving into
known depths for the old deliverance.

The window swallows the night—allows sounds
to magnify—sounds to diminish. There is such
an ache in the universe. Fiction does not allow

one to tamper with reality: one becomes the other,
just as the face becomes the mirror-face, which
becomes the real face, which becomes glass-flesh.



Tonight, in the tweak of time, life enters
like a thief, taking what I am. Never mind

the hours waiting for my dreams,
the sweet hours of morning with their

and schemes.

I am not willing,
though I doze, and nod, and waken

at moments—lost—and not of counting, 
which is odd. I have a clock and calendar,

I have plans, small as they are,
not like tireless sands of sleep,

mindlessly drifting—over and over,
through the same container that I am.

I free the night,
I free the weightlessness. 


all you meant to say

the long quarrel with time
and its occasional rhyme

all the sorrows and woes
all faith as it goes

wondering again
in search of an amen

to contradict the prayer
that is ever there

beginning of the aftermath
in God’s hollow laugh

whisper then alone
faith is the undertone

that burns into the soul

the part of you that’s whole

Many thanks to our Joyce Odam for this fine breakfast she has once again whipped up for us, giving us her take on our Seed of the Week, Dark Moments.

Our new SOW is My Favorite Shirt. Or blouse. Or skirt. Or sox. Clothes are not to be sneezed at; some of them are friendlier than others and may carry memories, comfort, scents… We just can’t seem to let go of some of them, for reasons that are our own and that deserve to be written about. Send poems, photos, artwork about this (or any other subject) to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

wobble-voiced again—
old morning rooster

what does he crow about
—ruling the silence

the sleepless

with his unmelodic and
somehow plaintive crowing



 April is National Poetry Month!
Celebrate by writing a poem—on our Seed of the Week, 
maybe—or any other subject!