Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Like a Box of Paints

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

Around me the light expands,
a rainbow of dream—
a nebula of creation—
my own thought.

The walls hold it in—
suffocate it—
let it splay and recreate
into spreading pattern:

blue upon gray, roseate yellow,
softening like a bruise;
and now the travel of dark,
wiping the corners, flattening away.

A whirling sun of energy
hangs in the room like a daze—
my hypnotized eye, staring into my
centermost self—stunned at the power.


After People, Birds and Sun, 1954 by Karel Appel

People are meant to become what they are.
They open themselves like a box of paints
and hastily draw themselves—each one
a masterpiece. Their paint never dries.
Still they look at themselves
with dissatisfaction,
wondering why they seem
so primitive—so unfinished—
why they are so critical
they cannot love themselves.

The birds—
flapless and extinct—
hobble through muck of dribbled paint
as if looking for their memory.
They bump into swirls of innocent color
and cannot find the sky.
Nothing is in scale.
The air is heavy and orange.
Huge children are stuck in story poses—
frozen with accusation.

And the sun—melting into circular abstraction,
burning the paint of which it is made—
smearing all over the hastily-painted world,
its black rays pointing every-which-way
as if groping for balance—
does it, too, wish not to die?
It staggers through the thickened sky
with a bewildered look—
blinks—and other suns form
from its direction of destruction.

After Rainy Scene Postcard by David Chorlton

How late it’s grown when we go out,
under our umbrellas,
to recede under street lights

and wade the wet streets
toward cars
or nearby restaurants, maybe,

to gaze out windows
and wait for the rain
to stop

or disappear into a world
of streaming glass—
blurring our reflections together.

You won’t be able to tell us apart—
you with your

and an eye for composition—
how you will catch us

in such slow motion
that we melt like water colors
mixed too thin.

After Untitled #27 - 1984 by Richard Diebenkorn

Life is untitled, is it not?  It floats out
like pastel oil on clear water—a smear

of reflection on a pond, say, or reflection
in smudged glass where someone has wiped

the images away; it is framed in thought,
as if thought mattered, and takes on the look

of anything that cares to believe in it.
An artist knows: it has something to do

with color and form. 
Control that, and you have the answer—

step back, pleased, and declare it finished.
Put it in a frame and call it “Untitled”.


The way everything changes color
when you look at it again, like shades
of turning light on the second day of spring,

like old moods gone crazy, becoming
new moods :  a boy holds a colored scarf
in his mind, it flickers orange, then blue.

His small dog dances on hind legs;
rain patters around them
and bounces off his green umbrella.

Under his feet a small lake forms;
his shiny yellow boots
stand upside down in the water

and he is happy.  A mauve shadow
passes over and becomes a menace.
The boy is stuck in his puddle

and the small dog is barking.
The boy holds a purple world over his head
and looks for an opening in it.

His face is turned away to his new divining.
Somehow the day contains all this on a
single page; it flutters loose

then turns into a small paper boat that drifts away…
like the wish… like the dream… 
like the play come true in the small boy’s mind.


how much of the ungraspable allows the eyes       
of obverse imagination

how much of the mystery holds still for the
instant of viewing

how much or how little can the mind
know what it seeks to know

how many strange and lovely birds fly over
or rest in stillness before harm finds them

how much does the painterly world
become real

the distortions and the perfections entangle, 
sharing color and form

what encroachments yet wait to use and
despoil the lost perfection 

After “Zen Sonnet” by Elizabeth Spires

We are in a trance of devotional mystery,
no sorrow, angst, or religion

to betray our innocence. 
We are nowhere and

everywhere in purity of mind.
We have never traveled like this—

through the glowing rainbow
of a window.

Only the mirrors know we are gone,
though we have covered them.

Our old tapestry of sorrow
forgets us—

loosening its scenic threads
and stories,

Walls fold in
like little gift boxes.

Windows vanish into the sky.
Floors absorb our freed shadows.

All has left our fancy—
we are unknown 

into the configuration—             

The tips of our fingers

We are still holding on to each other
in love and desire.

We are as pure as we will ever be.
We are in a sleep of devotional mystery. 


Today’s LittleNip:

At the end of the rainbow,
“Just about the time you think you can make
ends meet, somebody moves the ends.”

with its
promise of gold;
you dig and dig and dig
until someone says, “Other end,

—Joyce Odam


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for these fine poems and photos, rainbows of words and colors to match our Seed of the Week: Rainbows. Our new Seed of the Week is The Watchers. 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.


 Celebrate the ride!

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.