Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What Does It Mean?

—Poems and Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

Somewhere in time a gold bird explodes.
It is all covered with fire.
It is falling into our burning eyes.
We can hear its bright wings screaming.
We respond with our mouths open and answering.
We can see its white eyes bore through crimson skies.
The clouds catch fire
and the cindered stars are reeling.
We stand in the color of this sight.
We have come together to celebrate this mourning.
Our hands are at our throats.
We can feel our pulses pounding in our fingertips.
We can see the great self
of the bird burn away, and we can see
what life is made of in its mysterious center.
The sky has caught fire.
We ignite in the infinite color.
The bird has been falling forever.
Every glinting fragment of it falls
into our rapidly beating hearts.

(first pub. in Galley Sail Review, 1967)


Allow yourself one poem a day
Speak sadly of this.
Taste its meaning.

One day a poem will taste sadly to you,
test your crying, taste your tears.
Sweet tears for sadness,

one tear a day for sad remembering.
Tell someone,
or keep it to yourself for savor.

Savor one poem a day.
Write it yourself.
Do not give it meaning.

Let it grate—or soften
your hurt meaning.
Let it linger where it hurries—

to—or away. Let it go, then.
There is nothing to say in a poem.
Allow this.

Wing it with falling
if you fall inward.
How will this matter?

Do not ask a question.
Questions have no answers.
In a word is a poem. Begin it.

After “Some Questions” by Mary Oliver

First, it was a white page.
         Then a word fell on it,
                  like an accident.
Child of light
lives here, dressed in sugar,
with blue eyes she closes against my stare.
                                                  I know her.

The breathing wing
is fastened to a wire flown by a cruel child
who loves the broken bird—
the wind not strong enough to pull it free,
the sky too far—the love too strong.
All falling is slowed
into the illusion of falling,
like a mirror stealing your face for its own,
and you haunt yourself
   forever afterward
Half way through the word you remember
what it was you wanted to say.

It was a white page.
        A word fell on it,
             like an accident.

(first pub. in Galley Sail Review, 1967)

How can I see a waterfall
and know
the depth of its fall—
from where
and into what,
or even imagine
the cold sound
and harsh spray
of its surging
shapes and colors
feel its force
and direction
that gathers into sound
to make a visual
of its roar
or silence?
Here, is abstract—
only my words create
this waterfall, in a
broken place now,
and filled
with such endless falling.


OBTRUSION (A Pirouette)

Once in the evening light
a speck appeared—wavered,
and grew: a falling bird
falling through my sight.

I did not want to know.
I did not want to know

this was death in disguise
finding the window of
my eye. The air gave way.
I watched the bird fall by.


that  curve  in  the window-

screen — a gray finger-wave

against  the  pale  skull  of

the  sky — such  a  precise

pattern — caught  on  the

morning  window — at

just  the  right  angle —

I  turn  my  head  from

side  to  side  to  make  it

move — the  art  of  caught

light — a  falling-into-place

of  things — I move  it  back

and  forth, staring, mesmerized.


They will dance in the arms
of promise,
slow and sensual
in public shyness;
they will whirl softly
to a tune that will be theirs
for a memory
that they will weep to later.

But for now
her white dress will wrap around him
as they twirl;
his arm will hold her from falling;
the others will join in,
press near
and move away in unreality.

Soon they will slip away
into the life,
into the beginning;
they will slip away
to a car with cans and shoes
under a feast of rice-blessings,
under a wave of floating wishes;
they will blur away in a dust of hurry;
the child in her body
will be sleeping, sleeping;
they will drive away
into a few
or many years.

(first pub. in Pudding, 1995)


After “The Wedding” by June Jordan

They are caught in the long drift down together—
they are caught—trembling like two leaves in
a gold wind—warm in the light. They shine.
They almost love. They are caught in the
long drift down. They flutter softly to
the music—graceful and slow, as if
there was only this sweet falling—
no tree to memorize—no earth
to fall to—no grief to know.

Like discord
under lovely sound
we listen . . .
bird and man
     share all such
     as soul
     wind in throat
and deep within ourselves
as through the lift of wings
we hear the falling.

(first pub. in Small Pond, 1957;
Frog Perspective, Mini-Chap, 2002)


Today’s LittleNip:


We are at once alone and not alone,
oblique with sorrow,
caught in a seam.

You dance toward the center,
I catch your falling.
What does it mean?

(first pub. as a Poems for All #907;
also in
Brevities, 2004)


Many thanks to Joyce Odam today for her riffs on the Seed of the Week: Falling. Her “Obtrusion” is in the form of a pirouette; if you’d like to try one, the pattern is a ten-line poem with a turn-around in the middle. That’s three stanzas in the pattern of 4 lines, 2 lines (the turn) 4 lines; each line is six syllables.

Our new Seed of the Week is Feathers. 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.

And there’s a bonus SOW at the bottom of this page.

Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about upcoming readings in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.



 Bonus Seed of the Week: Celebrate words by 
putting together some of these tricky ones
into a poem
to flex your writing muscles!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.