Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Blue Ghosts

And My White Gardenia
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


An orange moon lists in the left corner
of the sky. Off to the right an ecstatic
blue ghost is dancing to the moon.

Waves of sound become visible,
like a dark rainbow. Dreams are not
of the mind, nor yet of the soul—
the dream in-between, becoming.

The blue ghost is made of air
and light from the moon.
Such is the power of moonlight.



out in the dusty day where old dog sleeps
insects die against sunlight
I lie under lethargy like a rag
the mailbox holds up a metal red flag and
inside     in the hot darkness
the letter regrets itself

nothing of summer is ready for
such distortion     that drone in the air
takes so long to pass     makes a
long dagger of blindness of its metal wing
turns to dark speck in wavery distance
but it takes all day

(first pub. in Poet News, 1990)

 Mirage of Dark

After Sunset at Etretat, 1987 by George Inness

Could it be fire
instead of sunset . . . ?

This summer
it’s hard to tell from

that fill with smoke and

apprehensively, we

and sniff the air.



What do I see of the red-leafed tree
but curling leaves as it grieves and grieves
in the summer sun—turning every leaf
to a tiny fist that cannot resist—

so they hang there dead,
red and red and red,
while the base of the tree

struggles on 
with a tiny clutch
of soft red leaves
I can barely see.

 But For the Fence


and the plum tree
weights its heavy branches down.
the plums too tight together,

and too high. Each year
another branch breaks
and the plums fall to the ground

Much is remembered and expected
of the taste of plums:
one sweet bite,

before the sour taste within.
These are not plums for the finicky;
these plums are meant for jam,

or wine
and have no further use
except for the birds. 



It was a sepia day.  We strolled downtown, toward a late
café that waited for us where we would claim the small
round window-table and be seen by our own reflections.
Moody again, not quite in love, we would waste another
hour touching hands by accident and offering a wounded
smile.  Nothing else was real.  We saw to that.  The wait-
ress would come and go as frequent shadow. 

The soft light did not change until we noticed dark around
the edges, and the distraction of the bell on the door as
someone came or left, and the way the day grew sudden
once again;  and it was late;  and we were outside, walking
down a boulevard of closing stores.  And still we did not
speak, and were amused to see ourselves break up in all
those windows.


Skeletal Train,

and diagonal
slips through the hot city
stops at a railroad crossing
where cars
and wait
for their turn
to cross
first a few
then many
looking through
the steel bones of the
skeletal train that  doesn’t
hold anything and is in no hurry

 Red Shadows

          Jodi Cobb ~ Geishas ~ 1995
          from Tale of Geinji by Murasaki Shikibu

                    “When the colors of a robe do not
                      match the seasons, the flowers of
                      Spring and the autumn tints, then
                      the whole effort is futile as the dew.”

Red is the most disturbing color of the day,
the day intense with summer.  Red sways
and sways in unison with the heat-shimmer

of a long glass window, where seven dancers,
in geisha-red, stare down a long enticing
hallway toward a glass audition door.

Or, they are seven sisters—born
at the same moment—out of your
imagination. You cannot change this. 

Free this thought : red changes shape,
runs thick, like blood, runs thin
like water, is powerful in any light.

Other motion echoes this—blurs
and runs together in fascinations of red :
red in shadow, red in puddle,

red turned into a bleeding sunset.
Red in windows that reproduce
in windows, shifting and breaking

everything that hurries together,
lights, and sounds, old thermometers,
eyes that smoulder. Red is in rhythm with

the mind’s distortion. It is a pulse; an embolic
flow; a flash against silence; an affirmation;
a dark glow when you close your eyes.

It is the throbbing aftermath of memory.

 In the Arms Of

After “Memory”, 1937 by Agnes Pelton

Let’s take this apart, discover it,
wonder is for wonder :

A pure white vase over-
spills with rose petals, floating off.

The vase gleams from within
with contained light.

A new-born sea erupts from its base,
teeming with new realities.

The white vase becomes white heat
no longer able to contain form.

Was it always meant to spew roses?
Create stars? Why is it familiar?

Memory: white flare, white burst
of energy taking shape,
fragile with illusion . . .

Memory: Needing to find you
in the swarm of thought, even now
able to define me.

Memory: Contrived image now,
talking on its own memory. . .
memories . . . on and on . . . beyond mine. . .

 No Room for Blue


She is singing the high blues
in a low blue voice with a cat curled up on her lap.

The summer fan blows hot breezes through
the window. The room drips warm tones of light.

She is pleasantly real to herself—
in good voice—loving the blue words in her song.

The cat purrs under her hand
and flicks its tail. She leans her head back to let

the oscillating fan stream the air through her hair.
She closes her eyes and lets

the weight of herself resist the weight of the room.
She has a mood to feel and it is heavy and dense.

And the purring cat does not care for music—
or it does—and she, for one, is a damn good singer.


Today’s LittleNip(s):

        “Long walk home”

the dusk tide-line,
the day going under—
a few gulls—the sea calm, taking
my time.

* * *


Tag-end of summer, with its wilt and drag.
Then rain.  Soft.  Brief.  With its relief to see
the sky fill with clouds, a few inland gulls—
sense the renewal of energy—sweet.
Then back to summer, with its wilt and drag.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poems and photos as she leads us through these deadly days of heat—as she says, summer’s “wilt and drag”—and that was last week’s Seed of the Week: Sudden Heat. Our new Seed of the Week is Freedom. Pull up those metaphors: not just political, but personal freedom, both physical and mental. First driver's license? Graduation? Divorce? 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.

And be sure to check out last Sunday’s Medusa for Tom Goff’s fine poem about Joyce.


 The Eagle says, Celebrate poetry, and get those poems in NOW! 

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.