Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Thousand Things to Say

Abstract of Many Colors
—Poems and Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


feeling measureless—feeling
that you must confess somehow
your nagging crimes and sins of idleness

and little worth—must overcome
your malady with some adventure
or recall, losing grip on the conversation,

not boring, but not of you, and you want
a bird to fly past the window for diversion,
and you find yourself staring at a wall,

obviously important with pictures
that you do not scrutinize for curiosity
or recognition. There is no ending

to your moodiness; your life is
such a dramatic failure after failure
of lost intention. And a blur of silence

fills the background—heavy as
a last effort considered, and let drift
away, like those boring, motionless

pictures, and that drain of voices,
so far away and tedious. And, just then . . .  
just then . . . a bird flies past the window.



I am taught.
I am taught to obey.
And to hold still.

But I do not obey.
And I do not hold still.

Look—I am over there
on the sunlit wall.
I am making poses.

You think I am funny
and you laugh.
I am not funny at all.

I am taught.
I am taught everything
you want me to know.

But I cannot listen.
I am in an ear—
the ear of deafness.

I am in the sea—
the sea of myself,
and the shell’s silence
goes inward to where
I am hearing the silence.

I am taught what to do
with my patience
which is loud
which is loud as snow
after it has blinded everything.

And there is my footprint
going into myself
just before the sun
shines upon it
from the patterned wall.

 Something in Blue


of words
to my poem,
the subtlety of refusal—

what I obey of
small significance:
urge,    need,    appeal,

to the
unanswerable muse,
so I become my own:

a poem fighting itself,
choppy,     desperate—
this what results . . . .



I will write thinly on
yellow strips of pa-
per to be thrifty with
my thoughts—to ex-
periment with narrow
width, let words break
in the middle, with hy-
phens. I wish to con-
fine myself thusly, to
test the rush of words
that flow so swiftly
they cramp my hand.
I hurry. They hurry.
We are in a race—no
finish line, except
the end of the page,
which I declare to be
the end of the poem,
a rule I impose up-
pon myself that the
words must obey if
they are to be caught.

 Yellow Trails Through Blue


I carried your sack of misery
with me until it turned into

I strained against it
even as I strained against you,
while you held the rope.

Valleys were hard,
as mountains were impassable.
The sea stopped me.

You were always there—as
naggard—as ubiquitous blame—
even to the long pier over the water.

We were both prisoners—
one of broken love
and one of chronic anger for the misery.

What of the core—what of
the center—what of the edge?
There was no buffer to save us.

Sometimes I laid your grief down
onto quicksand,
but it would not drown.

Sometimes you even tried to
retrieve it, but it was empty
as I had told you.

Grief is a proud metaphor—
for sadness—or pride—for willfulness
of intention.  

Eventually the grief sack opened
of itself
and you were nowhere to claim it.

What would I carry now
that bore such awful weight
as this old futility?

 Dimmed Neon Aspect


Mother, I am clambering right behind you
over perilous distance. We are competitors.
Loose stones fall behind us; I mutter and
follow, grabbing at anything.

You laugh and gain a better hold. 

If I fall, you will be angry, scold my
unskilled clumsiness. If you fall, I will have
to hear forever your impossible descent, our
echoes mingling.  



Rags Bones Bottles and Jars,
what will you give for my wife?
She sleeps too late and she nags too far
so what will you give for my wife?
She talks and talks in a voice so low
and she know I cannot hear.
Mr. Rags Bones Bottles and Jars,
she does not weigh so much as you think
and she always wants me to scratch her back
and she always wants a kiss.
Shall I toss her over the balcony?
She will float through the air
in her thin nightgown.
She will catch you around the neck.
She will tell you how mean and how good I am.
I will give you a wink.

(first pub. in Frost In Spring anthology, 1989)

 Glowing Mountain


Oh Violin of sad strings,
always ready to obey
the hand—
the hand at rest—refusing.

Why refuse
when music rests in the soul
as in the mind?
Violin knows this.

The hand is weary of
substituting music for want
and need and even the
superior talent of its training.

The hand is broken—
or grieving—or in mood—
a mood so bottomless the hand
cannot lift itself to the healing.

Oh Violin, how patient you are,
how loyal, how dispossessed of
the music you remember and yearn
to play again when the hand is ready.

 White Swirls on Black

Many thanks to the wonderful Joyce Odam for her poems and her artwork today. Joyce has poems in the new (and last) issue of our WTF, which will be released at Luna’s Cafe this Thursday, 8pm.

Speaking of Art Luna, congrats to him! He is being honored today by the Cal. Lawyers for the Arts, one of six locals who will be receiving the 9th Annual Artistic License Award tonight at the Cal. Auto Museum. Way to go, Art!

El Dorado County Poet Laureate Taylor Graham has set up a new Facebook page to pass on news of poetry and poetry events in the El Dorado County community. See www.facebook.com/El-Dorado-Poetry-1237910429583182/.

Our new Seed of the Week is Traps. Send your poems, photos and artwork on this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWS. For past ones that might tickle yer fancy,  check Calliope’s Closet in the links at the top of this column.


Today’s LittleNip:


The dark bitch of
po-e-try has a
thousand things to say

at the drop of a
thought—at the end of
a quip, or nag,

or complaint—as if you
could prod or coerce her
to your bidding.



 (Anonymous photo)
Celebrate poetry today by taking a swing at our SOW: Traps!

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then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
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