Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dreaming the Lion

—Poems and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


I am in a wide field.
Distance is pervasive with its shimmer.
A lion is loping toward me
in a lazy manner.
There are edges I must find
but I am in a dream of yellow languor.
My peripheral is blind to any other motion
but mine and the lion’s.
The lion does not see me.
She sees the water behind me.
She does not know it is a mirage.
She thinks it is real water.
Or maybe I have invented the mirage
to divert the lion.  Her fixed eyes
are indifferent to my presence.
Her rhythm is deliberate
and I am fascinated by how long she takes
to cross the yellow distance between us.
Is this reality, I wonder?
A blue haze is coming down around us,
or are we rising into a blue haze
of some other meaning?
I have not moved
and she has not yet seen me.
She has grown larger
but is no nearer.
Am I safe in my dream of her?
Will I harm her?


How will I know light
if my eyes cannot open ?

I feel a warmth on my face…
I cannot tell...   I might be wrong

if I open my eyes to darkness with
nothing to assuage my certainties


After “Damaged Photos” by Amber Flora Thomas

Lament comes easily.
Fortune frowns. Pictures fade.

Words are remembered as lies, or yearning.
One never sorts the realities for truth.

Whiteness is everywhere there is a scream.
The utterance is terrible.

Moods are made of water—for drowning,
for surviving—if one can swim.

Drop-offs have no ending. Cliffs are too high
—an eternity stretching between.

In your dream you are an infant crawling upon
the ice, your eyes blue coals of effort, and resolve.

Reach is hard to master. You reach for the shadow
and it recedes at the pace of your reaching.

Sometimes a faceless stranger brings love to you
which you accept, already weary of it.

When you are pitiful enough to love
sorrow will love you. You are promised that.

You are her servant, the one who webs
the doorways, and the windows.

She is no-one, and no-where, though you
have need of her, so she becomes your mirage.

You know you will win. Your resolve is faultless.
That you are target has never occurred to you :

Bow pulled back… Arrow trembling at
releasing point … Target a blur of surrender.

After Cover Art: “Strong Is Your Hold” by Galway Kinell

Lavender trees against golden water made of fire-flow of
sunset in its own grandeur. A yonder-row of hills—or sky—
compressed on its own reflection. Such a thin light, made
of quiet turbulence and transformation. Nothing real as eyes
would have it, like a smear of colors, becoming all, be-
coming neither, the trees but reeds in a dry field. No
changing back. The eye will have what it will : lavender
trees against golden water made of fire, you as witness.



That look in your eyes,
and the touch of grey in your beard.

The intelligent wrinkling of your brow.
Close up.

Close up now to me.
As though listening.

The way you lean
attentively, as if about to speak,

though you, polite, are waiting for me
to finish this. Your white collar

throws a shadow on your face.
The darkened room

fits into the background.
One side of your face is almost lost.

There is a sway. I feel it now.
Your mouth is so silent.

Only my thoughts speak.
What if we might have loved,

were ever real to one another.
I sit here writing to you—

looking at your eyes looking at me.
That look. That look.


There is a look that women wear
when your eyes are caught
with theirs,

when you want to know
because she will not be known.

And you will look back, or away,
and her look will follow you.
You will almost know her thoughts.

You will lose her then.
Her look is too private to go deeper.
It is a final look—

one that shifts
one feeling to another,
If you ask, she will tell you,

but never what you want to know,
or think you hear,
or guess, or let go—too close to risk.    


NUDE STUDY: For the Eyes of Love
(Levels of Beauty)

You said I was beautiful, didn’t you. You said
you loved my mind—the way I thought—
the who I was, inside. You said you admired

my virtue, loved my sense of humor, my
bright laugh—the way I solved your sadness. 
You listened when I spoke, brought me candy,

roses, wrote little notes. You called me Honey—rubbed
my back—did things around the house. Now I’m fat, huge
as a crime against your eyes, adorned with words carved
out of silence since I have no thought worth any challenge.
You scorn my opinions, mock my laugh, argue my ideas
and burn my eyes with your cold look—now that I’m fat.

(first pub. in Pearl, 2009)


Love on the verge of failure,
risking themselves on one
another—how can we
bear to watch them—

happy as fools—
following the light in
each other’s eyes, holding
hands on the dark pathways.


After “Finnish woman with twigs” by Rilke Ikonin

When her mouth smiles wrinkly,
and her eyes go twinkly,
we know her laughter is close

Her cheeks are rosy.
Her nose is nosey.
And her mouth is ready to voice.

And what she says is wise and chatty
and makes her feel imprudent and happy
and she gives her hip a slap…

for all her wisdom is a prattle,
she shakes her head and the twigs rattle
with a shake of her twiggy hat.


stacks of mirrors are dying in the air
they are making image after image
of their lives
they are making deepness after deepness
of their silence
they are learning not to sHaTtEr


After “Echolalia” 1943 by Henry Miller

What can you say about a face like that,
its mouth word-torn and the features
a blotch of blue shadows

while the eyes glare out until you look away,
until you feel the very same futility
and start to become a mirror;

what can you say about such a face—
the twisting mouth—a dark smear of words
still trying to be spoken?


You turn your face toward the window,
watch the rain,
feel the room shiver.

You become anonymous,
put on a cloak of indifference
to brave the night with its opposite direction.

Someone is getting in the way of your arrival
—someone hooded—without
a face—without a name—without a history.

You move to his arms like a shadow.
You embrace.
The mirror closes its eyes.



These are the dark opinions of myself
these frail connections to a frailer thought
too personal to trust to poetry
or vain confession to the curious.

Oh, there are listeners. And there are priests.
And lovers who would magnify the heart
to wonderful distortions . . .
such is the art of everyone you meet.

But mute is best. Talk to the undercurrents
and the tides. Mask to the madness-mongers
with sane eyes, whose look is deep, whose look
if held too long, would stare your secrets down.


Today’s LittleNip(s):


The cat yawns and stretches
and curls his paws beneath him
and closes his eyes again.

* * *


secretive with old knowledge,
secretive and inward.
How you love her, stroke her,
ask her questions—

her distant look, ignoring you,
letting you stroke her,
maintaining her secret world
that you may not enter.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for this beautiful collection of poems and photos focusing on our Seed of the Week: Eyes. Our new Seed of the Week is Dads. 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.


Original Art by Joyce Odam 
Celebrate poetry!

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