Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Hot or Cold of Life

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


I am in the small sailboat on the pond,
one among many such boats.
It is late summer.

I am up to my knees in the pond,
gliding my boat carefully among other boats
that we not bump into each other.

Our parents sit on the bank and smile to us
so easily guiding the small white boats
around and around in criss-cross patterns.

I am so comfortable in the small boat now.
I simply close my eyes
and drift in my sleepiness.

The sunlight
sparkles the shallow water around me.
Sounds murmur away.

My parents also are napping now,
lying quietly together on the bank,
beginning to dream.

The day reaches its peak
and all at once I am alone,
pushing myself around in the small boat

that is drifting out and away
amid the sun-flickerings
on the smooth surface of the water.



My childhood is like a dream. I am found in the
youngest mirror where it is deep and murky. I will
not go there where everything shifts into shadow.
Hands grope through as if lost on the other side.
Mine are among them. Mother, I cannot get back,
I cry. Heavy bodies catch me with their dying, and
her worry turns to laughter. Touch silence with your
scream, I say, and my mouth opens into no sound,
being at the death-angle of the dream. I waken from
the arches of my curled position, and brace myself
beneath my own body that is falling.

A Good Chord On A Bad Piano—Weldon Kees

On days like this, endurance is the test;
the hot or cold of life is what we blame;
the good or bad of it is much the same.
As long as there is time left to invest,
how we spend it, is what we should claim.

To change all this we might avoid the blues.
Familiar and remembered.  What we know.
So habit-forming.  All we have to show
for our misreading of life’s murky clues.
We always seem to find the undertow.

A downward drag is nothing but a drift
that takes no effort.  Energy is lost.
The sand grains of our falling merely sift
around us. We can still resist—can lift
to days of chances—find them worth the cost.



Corridors. Trains.
Dead faces floating.
A spiral coiling over my face.
Murky streets
diminishing between dark houses.
Wading through effort of running.
The car that grew tiny under me
until I was trying to escape
in a toy car that wouldn’t run.
A slipping shore edge.
Too narrow to keep balance.
Must touch the awful lapping water.
The heavy weight of flying,
trying to get the right lift
trying not to fall into telephone wires.
The time you shoved a knife
into my belly
and we quietly stared at each other.
One mother trying to pull me through
a mirror while another weeping mother
tried to pull me back.
A vast, still body of water—everything
a cold blue—unreachable mountains—
trying to swim toward them.
The time I woke up, laughing, and you
tried to comfort me, thinking I was
crying, and it made you angry.


The gold water drowns into the night,

the light of the moon…

Save me, says the full moon,

orange and low.

I hold out my hands

to catch the moon…

The moon drifts into the water.

I am too far.

I follow the moon-path of the water.

My eyes do the catching.

My eyes

are full of the moon.

I close my eyes

and lose the moon.

I sleep and the moon escapes

into the sky on the water.

The light illuminates my wonder.

I am in my dream now—

the drifting dream,

the falling moon—

the moon-filled pond that is now

a shallow desperate river.



How is it the moon can hang so low    
how is it the moon can hang so high
how is it no moon at all will show
         in a certain sky?   
How is it the old moon tugs me so,        
how can the sea make such a claim,
and how could it travel all that sky
        with no sea to blame?

How would I want the moon to be:     
        forever low?   forever full?
forever magnet in the sky,
        with the sea at lull?

Oh moon, oh sky, oh moody sea—is that
why I can sometimes feel the same in me?


In my dream again
I saw the two white egrets
in a pond making a quiet ripple among the lily pads
and the tall dark spears of listening grasses—

two egrets looking in the same direction
toward some sound or movement,
and I, caught there,
went still and listened with them.

What was it that I needed to know
amid this familiar tableau?
They always held the still pose
that transferred their instinct to mine.

No shadow moved upon the water.
No light shifted from the moon.
They would not cross again
 this dream dominion.

What could I learn from this—
this tranquil moment before some answer
drew me awake into the brimming silence
of the moon as a sound from somewhere
startled back into the white shadows of my sleep?


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today's sumptuous fare! Our new Seed of the Week is Cool Mountain Lakes—the opposite of last week ("This Murky Pond"). Think clarity, cool water on your skin, maybe a deer or two watching from the banks... Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for more SOWs than you can shake a pencil at.


Today’s LittleNip:


—Joyce Odam

Two swans drifting by
the lake shore—though I

had no bread to throw
with nothing to show

for the sad guilt I felt—
my mood seemed to melt

for the marvelous sake
of two swans on a lake.



 Celebrate Poetry!


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