Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A Head Full of Bees

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


The clown arrives with his black mask
and signature; he will amuse
with his pointed humor—
wait for the laughter.

Who knows him, who asked him here—
the audience propped in chairs—
his puppets.

He dances, he juggles,
he rolls on the floor
to make the spotlight follow him;

he offers the flourish of his autograph
to the first one
who finds him funny.
The audience cannot laugh or applaud.


(After “Swift to Place the Mask” by Kelly Rivera)                                      

She is mood of purple,
slumped sadly bent,
contorted sadly vain.

She wears a mask
so she can see herself
as sad and studied pain.

Inside the mask, she
weeps and smears
against her inward face.

The mirror holds
the mask’s expression
and feels complete.

The lighting changes,
purple turns
to sadder wallow of blue.

She distorts; she elongates;
she finds her new pose

Inside her face, the mirror
weeps, squirms and wavers
and changes shape.

It does not know her now,
and she forgets
she wears the mask.

She stares at herself
and smears to nothing
in the glass.


I touch the no-man’s-land of your face;
how strange—even your eyes speak
gravity of distance. I dare not ask.
I use the desert of your mouth for answer.

This time I go away, find where light
meets dark, enter where I fit and become
new. You stare for awhile at the point of
vanishment, then turn away and enter
your own opposite direction.

I soar through the distance in my blue
wings—dream flight, maybe. I’m not sure.
I have already fused light and dark to
lock time in place—name it mirror and
go through as image. Always I approach
you as I recede from myself. Remember?

Your face turns back into my touch, a
map of readable and unreadable messages.
Your eyes are blue. Then gray. Then green.
Your cheek hollows with shadow.
Your brow retains its deep furrows.
It is no longer safe to know you.



She feels love tighten around her and holds herself
from within—against the breaking. Her face is serene,
one hand held still on her lap, the other hand making
a strangle of feeling. It is always harder to breathe
this way. I love you, I love you, I love you, she keeps

(first pub. in Cotyledon, 2004) 



She cries black tears,
her face
gone white as a mask—

black streak
of three black tears—
that slip from her eyes

in slow dismay—
before she wipes her face.
and turns away


And it was nothing like life. It was death in disguise.
They were lovers. Their masks were facsimiles of faces.
They did not allow mirrors to haunt them, only their
eloquent eyes that fastened to one another. They were
possessive and possessed, ultimately to become each other.


ISMS . . .

Oh, poor heart, poor heart,
your first death,
your grief inconsolable…
Dark as her shadow,
ghost comes visiting to see
if we still love her.
Blame not the flowers
with so much dying lately.
They are innocent.
Death must be lonely
It empties every mirror
and finds its face there.
My little dog snores,
curled like a white dream
asleep and safe at my feet…

(After Edward Mycue, Cover Art for Mindwalking)

Black leaves against sky of mottled blue,
small clouds forming—the hour turning
the wrong way on the chalk-white wall,

losing time and meaning, and through the
latticed window an empty face looks down
at the woman fleeing from her dream—

hands held wide with effort to run, pushing
against escape. She turns her head back and
the dream can be seen through her skull—

her head full of bees where the viewed dream
is a black swarm—buzzing  with warning: 
hurry,     hurry,     she is about to waken.


It was never for loss, we flurried.

It was love, only contradiction.

It was only this—and the other.

What was never, was ever, 

and the only face

that knew what it was to disappear.

Even the vanities that appear as wonder

can lead into and into the mirror—

even the vanities.

Only the center is the where and when.

Sometimes we can pick up the trace again

of clue and direction.


Today’s LittleNip:

(After “Little Old Man” by Charlotte Zolotow)

Wearing my daily mask,
I let my eyes flick idly
here and there
in passing mirrors
that do not recognize me.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s poems and pictures on this, November 1, All Saints Day, as she gets us through the season of ghosts and goblins and guises (lookee—a creepy clown poem!).

Our new Seed of the Week is November Treasures. 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.



 Celebrate the poetic treasures that are hidden 
in November, and later today, head up to 
El Dorado Hills, 5pm, for the Poetry Off-the-Shelves 
 read-around at EDH Library.

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.