Tuesday, January 31, 2017

As Pagan as Fast Music

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

(Another poem for Ann)

Do not let me hold your sadness.
I might bruise it like a flower.
It is too valuable a thing
to give away—
no—save it for tomorrow.

Your glass laughter
falls about the room
and I catch
the little dark notes of it
in my deepest mirror.
All grim happiness is shared this way.

You are really a dancer,
pagan as fast music,
your feet catching in the
green grass of the rug.
Oh, your joyous shadow
cannot keep up with you.

You take your eyes and your mind
and me to a place where
the man smiles and says hello
and runs his hands
over music to hurt us.
We fill our glasses with
sadness after sadness
and sing him love.

Tell your morning not to go.
I take my illness
and my broken song away.
You swim in smiles,
leaning against the black body
of the piano, giving it
resonance.  You are like
a heart that I leave behind.
To keep you safe
I fold down the wings
of your car before I go . . .

I hope you are writing poems today.

(first pub. in The Ark River Review, 1971)


Today the world is filling with white rain and a long gray
wind and birds with flashing wings and sharpened eyes.
And today the cold is moving in like an old guest, and the
light is thin at the windows, and there is much thinking to
be done. Something is holding the world like a cube of ice.
And today the leaves, as at a signal, fall and soften against
the ground, and I want to write you a letter, but a poem is
trying to write me. And today, time shortens itself into dark,
and it is winter, and will be winter, until winter must let go.
And we wait for that—with a patience earned and remem-
bered. And here and there a flock of words is trying to
become a poem—and I know that if I keep writing, one
will come to me—and when it does, I will send it to you.


lost bird

       in smoke gray 




hard and fast

         how long will 

                this grainy 

                        gray sky 

                               last . . .


In the birdcage of death
the bird sits preening its flightless wing
it does not feed and
it does not look in the little mirror

sometimes it sings its sudden song
and the whole air shatters
when it stops the bars twang still
and the bird looks out of its sharpened eye

sunbeams drift through it from the window
its feathers gleam
it clenches its feet in a little dance
and a voice from somewhere says: pretty, pretty.


Anna and I are looking out the window. “Remember the
fairy tale of the Golden Bird,” I ask her? But she is hum-
ming a little song out of our childhood, and the window
opens, and the curtains float back into the room and
Anna is floating out on a moonbeam—straight out—into
the wing-shadows that scoop her up and away. And I—
back at the window—cold and abandoned, cannot move
for fear of believing the loss of my own shadow to the
night. The curtains fall back into place and hang mo-
tionless. The sound of wing-beats fades, and there is no
moon. For awhile I listen for something mourned and
vague and find myself humming a little song I have
never heard before.



strangely luminous
you fly to my throat
a gauze-bird humming
bent wings around my neck
your beak in my hair
looking for perfume there
your gold feet pinned to my collar
your cold eyes lacking communication
how can I feed you
how can I love you
drops of blood run down my skin
into my clothing
your pin slips position
you fasten again
soon I am apathetic
I hold a glass of tear-water
in my hand for you


Lenora is sitting in the middle of a big cushion. It is a lap. It is a
lap of luxury and love. It is pulsing around her like a heartbeat.
She is smiling. She is wearing a long gray skirt and silver stock-
ings. She has been reading a book. It is called The Sensuous
. Lenora is being a sensuous woman. Her breasts are
bare and she is wearing a metal butterfly between them. Its
wings are moving. It thinks she is a flower. She is a flower. Her
eyes say, “I am a marvelous flower.” She is life to the butterfly.
It will never leave her. It makes a little burn like a tattoo where
it beats against her. The cushion is breathing her a song. She is
learning to say the song in her mind. It sounds like a gray wing.
Lenora is becoming a singer. Her shoes have slipped from her
feet. Her arm is resting over the soft edges of the pillow. She is
holding a lavender cigarette. Her eyes are denying all accus-
ation. She is becoming a painting.


It is from
blue source;
the old sensation
flows and becomes sound—
a hum in the mind.


You almost remember
a word that began you;
you almost wear the identity of
some mother-spirit
made of love.


You weep to be so offered;
now you must find the beginning,
get through . . . get through . . .
wear the wings of falling, 
the new memory trying to elude you.


It was for poetry we made these ruins,
colored them white for distraction,
marked on the calendar the disappearing days.
So many, we sighed. Not enough, we amended.
There is no death, said the words.

In the church of love,
we gazed at the artifacts that adorned the walls.
so many, we sighed, and shifted our eyes.
You wore an aura of red. I deflected you
with a confusion of resistance.
Our hands almost met.
I could not remember the words.

Someone played a guitar in the doorway
to block our going. We sang with the others.
We decided to forego black for the mourning.
Whatever was left, we divided.
Strange to be halved, we marveled,
folding our wings. Oh, Angel, I cried.
Oh, Angel, you answered.


Today’s LittleNip:

(After Capsizing Man 1950 by Albert Giacometti)

Teetering into far-off death
          behind me, the whole sky,
                    reeling away…pulling  my eye…
                              I raise my arms into wings.
                                         I think I can fly.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for a hearty poetic/visual breakfast on a cold morning, as she tells us all about Wings, our recent Seed of the Week. Our new Seed of the Week is "Candlelight". 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 plenty to choose from.

A couple of more readings have popped up on the area calendar this week: one of them is Poetry in Davis on Thursday, when the John Natsoulas Gallery will feature Pat Grizzell and Geoffrey Neill, 8pm. The other addition will be in Placerville on Friday, featuring Sacramento poet Shawn Pittard at the Good Earth Movement Cooperative, 250 Main St.. 6:30pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and, as you can see, more may be added at the last minute.



—Anonymous Photo
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