Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Shadows Reaching Through Shadows

A Curve of Shadow
—Poetry and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


The sky, filling with blue, then a fragile cloud or
two, threading. A sharpness of birdsong, penetrating

the silence—brief—and from no distance other than
where it was a startled moment back. Then, that slow,

soft tone of whiteness that takes the place of early
blue, the way you slowly surrender the owned moment

to the swift intrusion of sounds and urgencies, your
reluctance to rise from the warm bed—seductive with

comfort—warm around you. The sky again—gone flat
outside your window-measure, full of daylight now,

the clouds, losing their pink direction, taking on the
heavy factory gray that smudges them.

You stretch and sigh. You look at the clock.


    (After “The August Darks” by Amy Clampitt)

The darks of morning
early darks on the cusp of winter—
heaviness—damp weather—the hours building;

somewhere the sea echoing the body’s heaviness,
the tidal restlessness,
the hollowness of the air;

a drizzle of wet light at the window,
the first light of reluctance,
what does the clock say—

what is the cause of this unease—
something will fill this frozen piece of time,
this hovering on the peripheral edge of life,

then a bird—once and lyrical—
certain of its existence—
the cold moon fading back into the graying sky.

 Catch of Light


How long ago was that?
There was the sensation
of holding.
So necessary.
Life was in a hurry.
So was time.
We were in its grip.
Swift. Intoxicated
and uncertain.
What did we know?
We held each other
in the dark mysteries.
Was this love?
What did we know?
We were practice.
Tremble. Young,
with the loneliness
of the young.
We were pulled away
into the swift years.
We forgot each other.
Our faces would fade.
We would become shadows
reaching through shadows
and find nothing but
our own selves
dancing to the mirror.
Music returned with this.
Music came back
to remind us.
Oh, vanished ones,
of my memories,
which side of memory
are you on?
It seemed like love.
Time is aloof, suspended
somewhere like a spell
put upon those
who believe in spells.

 Color Choice


1. A tangle of light
through an old tree
above a wide gray flow of water,
that’s how winter moves
and offers itself . . .  

2. I have seen light come and go
beyond the days.
I have felt myself follow.
Life was slow.
I held time in disbelief . . .

3. I went from child to
old woman
in a single flow,
seamless as one ripple to another,
borne on a rushing current . . .

4. This morning
I watched the clock
beside my mother’s photograph.
She smiled at me . . .
Her eyes laughed . . .

5. The red numbers keep moving . . .



Life is an art of patience, like this old man
sitting on a porch chair as frame after frame
of time-film catches his non-movement.

But a closer look will show
how much higher the weed grass is
in the last frame from the first.

See how faded his clothing has become,
how first he stares in one direction
then another.

Note that he crosses and uncrosses his leg
and that the subtle house in the background
has settled into disrepair around him.      

 Despite the Flaws



No matter where I go, the sand falls. I go through myself
in window reflection and the glass bends back.

I slide through air and things take my place.

I go through time like a message.
Twilight remembers me with its strange light.

I grow luminous. Time has replaced me with itself.

I fit the blue shadows of transition and feel no difference;
when I am there—I am here—how could you know me?



I am embryo of death,
held in throbbing measure,
with time to wonder, time
to feel, to learn
that I am not the dreamer
but the dream.

I grow through
all the stages and must not
abort myself
before the full gestation,
nor can I be completed
till the sleeper stirs.

At first dull twinge
of wakening,
I thrust against
the wall of life
and give
one fetal gasp in that
omnipotent dark birth.



friend fool
you have already inherited
you have already been kissed
by its loving eyes
and signed your self

so what is fame
but brief
and worth, at best, one
drop of rain
time can be measured
in instant or eternity
they are the same

(first pub. in Writers Showcase, 1971)



Through the beginning which is unknown,
into the ending which is unknown,
morning-time and night-time,
eternity-circle and beginning—
together there is a sway.
Many enter this sway,
enter and find the
core of stillness—
like the quiet eye
of the hurricane—all
brokenness—all healing.
Suffer and let pain heal you.
Something measures you by this.


for purple candles
and for music
for some lazy time of

for light that falls in a
certain way

where you like to look
there light the candles
play the music

let your thoughts be tranquil
close away
whatever needs closing

in a place of private storage
under purple tassels
and embossed shadow

leave open what you love
life is yours
give it your happiness


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

A stone dislodged from a path,
a butterfly torn by wind,
a voice-echo as it fades:
oh, to reclaim what is said,
oh, to restore what is harmed,
oh, to return what is moved
—symbols of all I regret.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her poetry celebrating time and the new year. Her LittleNip, “Reparations”, is a forty-niner: seven lines, seven syllables.

The new issue of
MockingHeart Review is available at mockingheartreview.com/. Submissions! Do it!

And head up to El Dorado Hills Library tonight, 5-7pm, for the Poetry Off-the-Shelves read-around. 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.

Our new Seed of the Week is Unwanted Guests. Send your poems, photos & 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.


 Celebrate the poetry of the pun!

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.