Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Plagiarizing the Light

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


for what they are—they are words.
I never meant to say them,
but the brokenness was there
and the heart replied—spilling like blood.

I emptied.  You recoiled.
Turned white as my mirror.
I died then, in a rage so beautiful
I took it as a life lesson.

When silence does not work—when
patience does not work—when lies
and truth are stuck together like an
explanation—words tangle together

so beautifully they do their terrible
work despite all repercussion—
silence as aftermath—purified and calm,
the rage-heart beating again.



They always just miss each other,
not knowing what to believe
of the other’s truth.

The house contains them simultaneously,
though the rooms shift, and the night and day
for each of them is different.

they left notes,
but notes are no longer legible.

 Go With Me



pair a bell
pare a bell

tell truth without truth
bell words
are a knell

knell  ,  knell
is to tell
a parabelle

tell it to the sky
that trembles
for the bell

I can tell it
now  ,  how it rings  ,
how the bell rings

when the voice sings
tell it well  ,
be the knell : parable


(After Threading Light, 1942, by Mark Tobey)

I, being abstract of expression, come to you with
riddles—complicate the darkness with the light—
talk of a distant year and place—run my thoughts

over language and beg you listen to the hum and
flow of words that skim the surface—like gull
to sea then back to sky, but all in white.  I ask you

for detail, to close your eyes and see, describe, define,
reclaim from blank space all that you remember of
nothing.  Out of my vagueness I plagiarize the light,

threading it…threading it…threading it…while you
watch—while I create patterns of thought and silence
between us, the way you do when you look at me.

(prev. pub. in Mobius, 2003)                



Two horizons emerge from the blurriness,
become an apparition of fear and wonder

if not the old blindness of the unresolved
truth or question—when all is not stable,

uncertain of the wonderment.
How else explain the duplicated vision

that appears to the truthful imagination
of the mind—the self-deceiving

mind—that relies on the rationale of
complex desire: two skies that waver

apart like double exposure—having
to choose the real or unreal to exist in.


After Still Life with Ginger Pot II, 1911-12 by Piet Mondrian

Lines break apart to explore the center, which is calm,
which is ‘thought’ in moment of clarity, where a round
thing defines—is defined—a union of answer and question.
The lines maintain their design of being—whatever they
are to meaning, which is not immediate—or meant, which
is only chaos of beginning and continuance.  All is relevance
seen by blindness, forming the center truth, which is and
is not, what you thought—curved and perfect—circular—on
the ledge that supports it safely, will not let it topple into the
compositional chaos of lines around it, that allows it the
revelation that reveals and protects it.



The birds fly over this disconnected world.
There is a map in the air
but no candles for the windows.

Time represents our confusion :
how can the birds save us?
Symbols are failing to be truth.

Still, we watch with hope and fear
we are ever at the mercy of . . .
what will become of us . . .


oh, what will become of us :
time represents our confusion
that we are ever at the mercy of.

Still, we watch—with hope—and fear,
with no candles for the windows.
There is a map in the air

and birds fly over this disconnected world,
but how can the birds save us
when symbols are failing to be truth—


symbols—failing to be truth—
yet we watch, with hope and fear.
Time represents our confusion :

how can the birds save us?
There is a map in the air,
but no candles for the windows.

We are ever ‘at-the-mercy-of’ . . .
and birds fly over this disconnected world.
What will become of us?



Which side is which to which
of the perception?

Words float through lines
in audible silence.
The reader reads and is informed :

Let me follow the words that blur
as I read them—doubling for

I must not be too literal here,
I must honor the mystery.

Someone has discovered a truth
and would share it,
but it shifts as I listen.

Words like twisted, and broken,
are placed against
a simpler word for comparison.

Random lines scribble and scribble
in broken direction. The original
thought is twisted as a challenge.

I am in this : the artist / author
has seen to that.  He would
involve me as co-conspirator.



We saw how you stole
line after line from
yourself and called it
original, how
you threaded strands of

sunlight into your
hair when you stood at
the burning window;
how light entered you—
the transparent light

with you shining there
—an apparition,
alive and screaming
until a din of
silence received you.

How will we find you
among the golden
ashes that still hold
your original
presence. Your words were

written on the glass
where rain erased them—
your tears, as you turned
back to us—unchanged
and we believed you.



It is so easy to know this truth—
this perfection—this theory
found by accident or by someone’s

grace, this note by way of explanation,
this single puzzle-piece found and put
where it belongs.  Now you can rest,

stare into your deep window, find your
horizon.  Now you can lean without falling,
safe as a noon.  Now you can know

how the petal feels when it curls around
its own center.  Now you can be
the folding and the falling—that eventual. 

How easy it all is.  Look where it
takes you, this knowing, even through
the dark of your own mystery. 

You know where you are: you are
here.  You were never that far.
You are there, which is everywhere.

Every soul opens to let you in.
You are the missing piece.  How easily
you fit into the great sighing,

the light that unfolds from the secret
darkness and you and the eye
that look at each other in such knowing.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam
There’s a monster in the

No, David.  There are no

David all golden
and beautiful and three
stands and looks at me
with patience and truth
after pulling his wagon of toys
from the feared room
and as sure as a man
and as if I did not understand
explains :

There’s a

Monster in the bedroom.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her poetic words of wisdom about our Seed of the Week, The Naked Truth. Our new Seed of the Week is The Web. Could be the Internet; could be that black widow spider in the corner. Could be beautiful; could be a trap. 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.

As promised, Katy Brown’s new photo album of the Sacramento Voices reading last Saturday (where Joyce was one of the readers) is now on Medusa’s Facebook page; check it out at www.facebook.com/Medusas-KitchenRattlesnake-Press-212180022137248/! And thanks again, Katy.

Head on up to El Dorado Hills today, 5pm, for Poetry Off-the-Shelves at the library on Silva Valley Pkwy. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 Celebrate poetry! Here are Mikey and Eva West 
at last Sunday’s premiere of Susana Haifon’s 
(on the left) documentary film, In, Done, and Out!
all about Mike West’s poetry. 
And yesterday was his birthday, too—
congratulations on all counts, Mikey!


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.