Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Walls of My Resistance

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Tonight the white shadow of loneliness
flows down upon the silent room

where someone sits in reminiscence
in the quiet hour—

something mentioned
long ago, or

only sits and looks at the white chairs
caught in similar emptiness, or

simply drifts away
from any meaning.

Beam by beam
the white shadow stretches

into moonlight
and the hour thickens.

The walls take on the brightness
that searches the room for some connection.

Tonight, the white shadow of loneliness
flows down.


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.  


After Ballet of the Woodpeckers, 1986 by Rebecca Horn

in these mirrors
stab glass images of

restricted flight
the in and out of light

the positioning of each to each
so no mirror can escape the other

the corner

all are level
with ceiling, walls, and floor  

walls coincide
with depth and spaciousness

how can light
decide which way to go?

can mental birds     get in?
go through?    get out?



How awful we are now, our gray shadows
learning to avoid the connections,
old sunlight burning between us.

You should not
have shown me your face.
I turned away.

It was dark after that
and full of the old repetitions,
sorrows and sorrows.

The walls would not budge,
became measuring points.
They grew into a thick house.

Even the nights have divisions,
they thread themselves trying to patch
insomnia with scraps of dreams.

 Moon, Clouds, Trees

(Rimas Dissolutas)

She stares toward soft window light
—shadowings adrift in the room;
the way the bare walls seem to glow;
the way silence clings like a sound;
a hypnotic feel to the air,

a white bowl becoming more white
deflecting the texture of gloom;
the way time can falter and slow;
a feeling that breaks all around—
a white cat asleep on a chair.

Whatever you wonder is right—
whatever you want to presume.
There’s nothing of this you must know;
whatever you think you’ve discerned
of forces that might define her.

It’s how she can hold back the night,
a lost look that she seems to own,
a trance that will not let her go,
the way time will not be returned
to the fathomless blank of her stare.


in a rented room
playing a violin to the night,
to the music itself, 
in tribute to the mood
and to the violinist,
music that softens against the walls
and spills out into the hallway
where someone passing
someone with memories—
someone with buried tears—
someone who unlocks another door 
and goes inside.

And this is not
a romance in disguise,        
this is a moment
that snags
against another moment
that only exists
in the imagination of this poem:
the violinist is someone
who died a long time ago
unknown to the poet
but who puts him here
to fill an unhealed sadness
of someone playing a violin
in a rented room.

 Sparrow on Fence


I grow into the cult of music
with my non-voice, misread the tune
with my deaf ear.

Once I was a singer—a mountain stream—
a spot-light target,
wanted for my fame.

I wore numbers to guide me through the hours
toward the white piano shining in the dark.
The cat purred in the tapestry.

I still sense the nearness of roses
in the shallow arms of vases.

Something still reaches from the mirror—
looks past me to the blankness,
into which it stares, as if remembered.

Afterwards, there is only light,
pocked with winter,
cold light examining damp walls and faded rugs.

Or is it only the escape of windows
where some singer remains—
an old echo, fading in and out, losing hope at last.



we have become heavy in the universe
silence is a tonnage 
we are in it
under it
we wade the slow water of dreams
we are exhausted

first it was winter then it was spring
now it is summer
we have progressed no seasons

we are a dragging of words
we are heavy of repetitions
we are a foreign language

such eyes! such eyes!
that burn out of our faces
going into the other
coming back unseeing

I am cruel in my sadness
I become destructive

this morning I entered the new day
it was the same as the others
there is a lot of dying in the world
I am afraid to write letters to it

today I will pick up my guitar
and create a new song
my fingers will bleed

now I am forming a circle around
my choices
and you get up
to put another door on the house


After Madonna of the Lilies by Alphonse Mucha

Lilies from the background
attach to the walls and fade.

The walls turn into sky
and it rains.

The lilies run together
and become impressions.

Every autumn a child comes by
to pick the lilies off the wall.

A Madonna overlooks all this
and protects the child—

unaware child who sits
deeming into the positive future.

The Madonna presses deep into the wall
among the lilies which make room for her.

The daydreaming child never moves
from this moment, full of such memory.


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.



When I was a dream, you entered, solid as a flame.
You parted the hours; I grew old—the child I was
entombed in your eyes.  Oh, Spirit—Love—or
some such loneliness, why have you chosen me?

I was the water you walked upon. How could this be? 
Night was so vast and far; there was no horizon for
my soul.  You kept whispering, “Religion”.
Oh, Father of Death, your great forests have converged

and all my lost paths no longer matter.
I have eaten my own crumbs of humility;
I have chosen glass pebbles at last for their reflection,
though it is hard to realize such an admission.

So terribly dark here,
at the center where you have
directed me.
What was it that shimmered with such slow violence—

a hum at the core—a blessedness?
And still I resisted.  I would not feel or hear.  I closed
my eyes and watched the walls of my resistance.
Is it love at last that I must enter as a country, or a role;

a swallowing; an entirety—with all its promise and
perfection; a surrender I must learn?
I am afraid to let go,
and cannot love, or let love learn me.

And do you hold bitterness
like a flower that cannot die for you . . . ?
It was the flame of darkness, cold as emptiness, the fire
gone—shell now—holding its force, holding its memory.

And then peace. 
And the long time between.
Maybe now I can write poetry.


Today’s LittleNip:


will never crumble here—they are too 
old—too fixed against the gaping door,
taking the seasons in and letting out
what memories remain—boulders rest

against the hill that old familiar shadows
love to climb—all as it should be—there
for only    sun,    and rain,   and random
photographs to find . . .


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for her fine poems and pix, and her daughter, Robin Odam, for sending them to me! Joyce, Robin and good pal Norma Kohout will be reading this coming Saturday, 4:30pm, at Sacramento Voices at Sac. Poetry Center, 25th & R Sts., Sac., hosted by Phillip Larrea. That is assuming that Joyce is able to be there. She’s currently suffering from a leg infection which has her in the hospital. We’ll be thinking about you, Joycey!

Carl “Caschwa” Schwartz wrote and suggested that we steal a phrase from D.R. Wagner’s reccent Saturday Medusa post, “afraid of sunflowers”, for our new Seed of the Week, and I say that’s a dandy idea. 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 of others to choose from.


 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate poetry!

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