Tuesday, February 20, 2018

In Dream's Moody Water

Gray as Theme
—Poems and Visuals by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Out there in the fog
the farmer is working with his hoe.
I can almost not see him.

The two white geese are
hunched in the wet grass by the pan of water.
Silence is sifting upon everything,
cold and gray.

The farmer is wearing a white wool sweater
and moving in and out of motion
in swirls of energy.
He seems far away.
The sun is icy white above him,
the fog between.

The window I look out of is dark with morning.
I am the farmer’s wife,
his recent lover.
I watch him work
with an awesome pride.
He is stronger than winter.

He is turning and turning the earth that he loves
with a methodical determination.

The dog with the cowbell around her neck
is allowed off the chain
and she lets me know where he is
whenever he drifts out of vision.

(first pub. in Interim, 1997)

 Gray Sky Moon


Upon Ghost Bridge the women linger, staring into
the moody water, taking their time before time takes
them, emerging out of the foggy night to stand like
shadows of discontent, their faces caught in occa-
sional arc from a searchlight lost upon them and the
moody waters. They are not here for suicide. They
are not here at all. They are dreamed, in bed asleep,
approaching the old dark bridge, which connects two
shores of difference. They go to the rail in their sheer
white dresses and listen to the night with its old wet
stories that they love to hear. They stand in their
dreams on the ghost bridge that crosses the moody
water; and they stare and sway the way dreamers do
who are not where they are—or in their dreams—but
drowned somewhere—under some ghost bridge, in
dream’s moody water.



Everything disappeared as in a gray dream. We became
particles of light, broken by dark—a jealousy of forces,
and though we were whole within it, we felt part of a
texture that was both form and formlessness. Sounds
got lost within sounds. We groped and could not feel.
There was no color. No time. No sense of destination.
We moved as though suspended; as though on a distant
moor; as though transported to a place of old tales told
by survivors—but only their voices, we could not see
them. And after centuries of effort we found our way
through by second-sense and perseverance. The fog-
swirl lifted and dispersed, and we were on the other
side—as if having come through a gauntlet of fear.
And through the thinning mist, haunting voices wailed
behind us, begging our return.

 Slat Door Shadow


The sun is after us.
We are hidden in
the wet fog
but now a glow
We feel it grow
against our disbelief.
We are all misty
and made of
moleculed gray.
We cling to
everything we touch.
We move through
one another
as the dawn
moves through the night.
The sunlight burns.
We suffer light.
Death is
too much to hold.
We are squeezed dry.

(first pub. in Writer's Showcase)



I, writing good news,
make you worry—
you have known me
too long—you
read beneath words
for what I am saying.

I tell you about
the seasons and the
domestic cuteness of the day,
skim-off the surfaces
like fat from a
simmering pot of chili.

I send you an easy recipe
using wine     and recount
all the latest
household disasters
to make you laugh.

And because it is time to
start dinner
I close with love
and start

cutting up
with a     newly-sharpened
making insignificant wounds
on my only life.

(first pub. in Squeezebox, 1975)

 Three Levels of Gray

After Les Derniers Secrets by Claude Lazar

How the light follows the line of the hallway in a long
perspective;  how it widens past the three open doors,
each room with no occupant; how time is not the
meaning here, or the consideration.

It is the green tone of silence, the meticulous gold
shine on the floor and walls, the darkness that blends.
It is the curiosity. If the three doors close, where will
the light go?

The photograph on the left wall is the only clue, but
it is hidden, seen only at an angle. The open rooms
swallow the pale defining light from the hall. The
immaculate floor swallows the dust. The ceilings
press and expand, as if breathing.

The photograph tries to remember—tries to re-gather:
this is a new place, and it is of the old. What does it
know of now? Now is myth.

The dim hallway is content with its soft ambience.
The green tone of silence deepens as it turns the hour
from one tenor to another.


After “The Meaning” by Charles Simic

What must you give as sacrifice here?
The cost is too dear,
unbearable under insistence.

Reality as symbol—unreality
as meaning to the real—something
you look for still lost in the mystery.

How shall you name it? 
What is lost in the finding?
Something-for-something. A ruse.

It is only the game of innocence
gone too far. The greater the insistence,
the more desperate the solving.

Superstition lurks, reminding you
of consequence. Flattery
comes to your lips, like a smile

you force to delay a moment. 
Hidden in the game
is a way out. The dead trees rattle.

Sounds scrape together
like so much weeping. You offer
what you have.   Intuitive.    Sincere.

 Continuous Line Ballet


I cannot tend to violets or the
glass frog in the water glass on
top of rocks and out of water now.
The gray scum world surrounds him
like a drought. The violets bend their
gray leaves down around the rim of
the mundane flower pot while I
stare out the filmy window at
the world, my life in doubt.



If it were not for fog, I might go as substance through the
gray moving night, avoid the invisibility of strangeness,
be anywhere and nowhere, without point of reference—

as if drifting out of dream-state into landscape of half-sleep,
winter hovering, wet and drear, erasing me as I waken,
being of myself, but nowhere else. The lack of fog leaves me

almost lonely for it—this substance of being, replete with
sentience and anxiety, with concrete movement of will and
form, this glaringness of presence, observed or unobserved—

this beingness of being. The fog remains dense with illusion
and non-illusion, remains a wet swallowing, a hole filled with
itself, contains all the lostness of context—this whole insistence

on reality, with only partial recognition of it. Whatever
was real becomes unreal—becomes mystery of fate—
becomes abstraction—like fog—like lost-being in fog.

 Gray Feather


And when I become a seagull
I will fly to San Francisco
where the oil is in the bay

and I will hang my heavy wings
among the grabbing of the hands

and when they rescue me
they’ll wonder why
my human eyes are so unglad.

If they remember me
from some old love of sky
before I learned the

endless way there is to die
I may surprise their sympathy

the way I follow boats in fog
the fatal way I follow
hidden boats in fog.

(first pub. in Wormwood Review, 1971)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam
The rain has lessened. Everything subsides.
The winds. The sirens. All the dreary news
the day began with. All that’s whole divides.
The silences stay silent to confuse.
We don’t know how to read each other’s clues
or all these pendings—not just if but when.
It rained. It stopped. And it will rain again.

(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2011)


Our many thanks to Joyce Odam for her thoughts about our Seed of the Week: Secrets in the Fog. Our new Seed of the Week is Better Days. Ahead, or past? What do you think? 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.


 —Anonymous Photo
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