Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The House's Dream

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

After “Blue Nude” (1998) by Frank Majore

A shudder of blue through wavering wet light;
insinuating beings who murmur around you;
you listen but you are distracted by a beetle

in the glass, going after the dregs.
The curve of the glass
will prevent its return up the sides. You watch

in deep, slow-motioned concern
to analyze your vision. What is real?
None of it!     None of it!

An orange glow dissolves through the glass
where naked figures embrace and dance,
a slow dance of tragedy

or love.
You watch them through the glass distortion.
The dregs hold the muddling light.

There is no beetle.
The blue exaggerates for your eyes.
You are crying.



Oh—the ghost in the cornfield—in the
night—under the full moon it loves,
does a white-moon-dance with its
sleeves from its fixed position
though it tries to leap freely from its ties.

Oh—it shudders and cries
with its wind-hollow voice
and beacons its eyes to the eyes
of the windows. It knows there are
watchers there who admire it
and it flaps and moans the louder
until it is even more of a rag.

And tomorrow it will deny all this.
Tomorrow it will merely flutter
from inside out and simply hang
on a stick like a farmer’s joke
and twitch back at the crows.

(prev. pub. in Medusa's Kitchen, 2011)        

 Midnight Crow



I can’t get out of the house’s dream. Composite house with
yellow rooms—with doors that lean, and stairs that fall away—
a crooked moon in all its windows. It thinks

I am a game and waits till I’m asleep to rearrange itself—
change its colors and its new address that I have to learn
again each day. The house breathes in, and the space grows

smaller. Where is my mother? Which room? Which room?
Where do I go to play? I used to know which room was mine :
the one with the cot, the one with the transom,

the one with the loudest radio. Something walks the hallway
with a silent tread that makes it shudder. I cry out. Should I
hide in a closet? Dark will save me. A wall sags.

A light bulb sways. The page tears in my coloring book.
My blue crayon breaks. The porch falls off. I use more red—
press down—outline with black to keep the house

more stable. The green smears. Orange takes over.
I can’t make it right—the door too small—the windows
too tall, the looming house too big for the page now.

 In the Dark

After Shadows (triptych), 1983-1986, by Ken Kiff

First, there is the flapping, wingless figure trying to fly,
a writhing blue tree, and a yapping dog. They are fleeing—
one from the gravity, one from the elaborate blue difference,
and one to a triptych fold where another scene is opening…

Here, a yellow cat peers over a blue sea, set in the sky—
or in the mind of a frightened figure about to be,
possessed by a primitive green delusion that keeps
blurring in and out of whatever anguish thought it up…

In the third panel an original orange nude steps through
a profusion of flowers that try to keep her among them.
She is touching lovingly through the flowers toward
the struggling figures who are so desperate to reach her…

This is not a scene out of childhood, though childhood
holds the secret. Soon, the children—with their crayons
and life-sized canvas and skills of their imagination—
will tell us what this means, if nobody interrupts them.

 Hollow Moon

(Five Katautas)

What is that bright sound?
Whenever I hear color
rage against light, there is grief.

What does the sky pull?
The geese cried down this morning.
It was too bright to see them.

What will release us?                                   
Shadows pass through each other
then separate with no touch.

Will we remember?
Blue beads will break to a path,
then just the string, then the clasp.

Will there be regret?
Love aches with hunger, then starves.
There is taste, then aftertaste.



The way she was leaning against a tree, a scar of sunshine
on her mouth—you would have kissed her, but she had just
spoken a word and you had to answer. 

In the next moment she was gone, though your camera held
her. You could revise her.

And then she was standing somewhere old, one hand to her
face, a fur of winter around her neck. A man with a butterfly
on his skin was with her, but they were looking into the edge
of their small square place, which would never allow them
anything other than suffocation.

You walked right past them, going home, in a slow, sur-
realistic manner.

And just then, she whispered what she knew, and you
answered what you believed, and that is how long it took
to change an ending.

 Ghost Tree

(In the format of “Drenched” by Mary Gilliland,
Poetry Magazine, August 2000)

At first the howl was distant, like a whine—an engine
In strikes of light the heavy skies release
perhaps, failing, or some animal in echo through the 
their lightning flashes that outline the houses

primal throat of suffering. Where was it coming from!
and churches of our globed valley—absorbed by the

It felt like a surrounding—I, the center—deep and
bristling grass and trees and reverberating voices

frozen, waiting for it to reach. And it, magnified—
of the thunder. The rains wait in swollen clouds,
became a sensation—coming from my own reached
to pour down upon all this pending—
mind, and at its fullest moment passed through me and
the air building—the ground shadows deepening—
was gone, leaving a sensate hum that drained me of all
everything holding a long note of waiting.

energy and an empty feeling that would last forever.
Oh, beautiful storm, we thrill to your arrival.

 All Hallows (Paisley Curtain)


How will you find me
if I am a silence

an explanation,
a bowl of oranges

glowing on a table,
time turning in the clock;
how will you

recognize me—
out of the mirror—
my old face made of shadows—

my eyes burning;
what will you say
if I turn toward you

and wait for you to speak
after offering you
these words?


Today’s LittleNip:
—Joyce Odam

There is a crease where something moves
that has not moved before,

a shiver in the sky
where the white birds cross,

a hollow in the dream
where the mind lets something out,

an old desire
that fades and does not grieve.


Many thanks to these bewitching poems and visuals from Joyce Odam on this All Hallow’s Eve! For more about the Katauta, go to www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/katauta.html/.

Our new Seed of the Week is Autumn Leaves. 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.

I’m not a big Wiki fan [insert controversy here], but there’s an unusually thorough discussion of Halloween at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween. And for the 50 Most Terrifying TV Characters of all time, see www.denofgeek.com/us/tv/the-twilight-zone/250153/50-most-terrifying-tv-characters [insert political jokes here].


 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate poetry!—and the houses as they dream...

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