THE WORLD . . . THE SUN
When the sun came out this morning, it burned a
hole in the sky and spilled its black ashes around
and whatever dared to look at it was stricken with
stabbing color—rings of nausea—jagged patterns
of blindness. The dark hole of the sky filled with
blessing—the light pouring in—in all its radiance.
When the sun came out this morning, everything
that was too fragile thrived then shriveled.
Know that this light is forever. It borders the
cold world and the cold heart alike. It wobbles,
then settles into a golden ring. Bask in it . . . bask
in it . . . let it heal whatever can bear such healing.
SENSATIONS AND IMAGINATIONS
Sometimes I feel a soft butterfly-
shadow and a darting flicker of light
and a movement that precedes the
shadow by a precisive moment—
then a flash of color wavers by
and enters a waiting mirror
and I feel myself follow into
the same mirror as the shadow.
A brief flash of color overtakes
the shadow and I feel a change
of mood—and being—as I become
the butterfly that evolves. I am
both frightened, and enchanted,
for there is no time in the mirror
and I do not know how
to follow the vanishing butterfly.
Three Worlds, photograph by Clifton Albergotti
earth . water . air
(Where the occupant?)
motion . stillness . depth
light and substance reconciled.
(Where the intrusive, changing eye?)
No eye must worry this tremulous light,
unsteady substance. What least is most?
Whose faith reaches here? Whose doubt?
Nothing will ever change for the frozen moment.
Everything will change for the penultimate moment.
Extreme to extreme—awe—and what is missed—
word swallowed by no sound—silence that disturbs.
All this is to memory is what it reveals, what it troubles.
IT WAS ON AN OLD SURREAL LANDSCAPE
It was on an old surreal landscape that we came upon—a
small rain-lake that held its own reflection of some hovered
thing that melted down against the land and changed per-
spective in the red and moody light that swarmed, and built,
and altered, what we knew of light. And in a quiet, receding
distance the small cows fed, and roamed, and never knew
what grew so strange in this mottled light, or what the thing
became—perhaps a ball of sun-flame that would burn-out in
the lake and leave no after-image in the crackling light—or
in the way the long red shadows fled across the ground. And
still the cows sensed nothing different while a huge new dark-
ness built in the sky and filled the rain-lake with itself. It
went so deep we were alarmed. No sky could look like this
and the world not know—not even cows.
TO THE WORLD
Maybe we will flatten to the world,
live out its arrogance, live in its grace,
resist the many shadowings that pull
like any leaf relinquished to the fall…
and maybe face the mirror of reprieve
and tell our stories to the deaf and blind
as if they cared about us or could bear
the giving and receiving of such cries…
and if we pray to silence when some grief
has torn us for some last time, may we bide
forever in redemption made of love—
as if love were not sacrifice enough—
that when life gets too real we may pretend
there’s more to the beginning than the end.
“O WORLD, THAT’S YOU”
, and I am you, and thus
Oh, not the planet, but the abstract you,
the one of all, that small.
I am not claimed
or thus inclined.
I drift in effigy,
my own revision.
Of soul: O what am I
in this transition of mind,
the beingness of being—
I am the twig from which the leaf is torn
and the leaf in its mid-fall . . .
I am the reflex shudder of the tree,
I am the shudder in my throat,
the next breath to come
and the one after that.
(After “Isiah Beethoven”, Edgar Lee Masters’
Spoon River Anthology)
OF WAKENED ANGELS IN OUR SLEEP
1. And in every house in heaven there were lights waving,
2. in empty houses, where old things take place
3. The faint moon falling through white-washed glass
4. out of so dark a source it makes no sound:
5. swelling slowly as if considering spilling over,
6. I breathed my pleasure out onto the chill pane
7. The silence was answering my silence,
8. Unprepared for these conditions.
10. If words could hold this world
11. I would be for you an offering of clear spirit,
12. in mercy, each by each set free.
13. It is what man does not know of God
TITLE: Archibald MacLeish (Words in Time)
1. W. S. Merwin (In the Night Fields)
2. John Berryman (The Dispossessed)
3. Theodore Roethke (Orchids)
4. Mark Van Doren (Undersong)
5. Elizabeth Bishop (At the Firehouse)
6. James Merrill (A Vision in the Garden)
7. Denise Levertov (The Goddess)
8. Ted Hughes (Piebroch)
9. Henry Rago (The Knowledge of Light)
10. William Dickey (Love Among the Manichees)
11. John Ciardi (Song for an Allegorical Play)
12. Richard Eberhardt (On a Squirrel Crossing
the Road in Autumn, New England)
a vast sky
you are dead .
you turn to say
this to me.
you sift and
I sit on the
The way nothing really fits solid against anything else.
There is a space between; there is a possibility of change
—of letting go—or letting be: the lake against the sky,
the ground beneath the feet, the canvas from the painted
scene; the way we levitate from thought to thought; the
way the world is separate from what is not the world;
the way the sleep is not the sleep. The same with words,
the way they slip away before they’re heard. Only the
soaring bird belongs in cutting space—in followed time
—a beat away from everything that’s free or caught.
a mute in the land of silence
a sage in the land of praise
a singer in a field of song birds
a gossip among rumorous bell-ringing . . .
these are the tellers of what we ask
these are the tellers of what we answer
these are the voices and non-voices of all
the babble with which the world is filling . . .
oh, go to the mute for silence
go to the sage for opinion
go to one who is hushed by birds
and let the old bells keep ringing . . .
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poetry and original artwork! Her “To the World” is a Smith Sonnet: unrhymed except for its couplet ending. “Of Wakened Angels in Our Sleep” is a patchwork poem, made of lines from other poems; the attributions are shown below it. See below for San Francisco photographer Clifton Albergotti’s Three Worlds, or go to his website at www.albergottiphoto.com/.
Joyce’s poems today center around “the world”—her vision of our Seed of the Week, Paradise. Our new Seed of the Week is Silk Stockings. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to email@example.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.
Yesterday, we posted Carl Schwartz’s “Rite of Birds” which was based on a poem of Joyce’s last Tuesday. Unfortunately, the stanzas got jumbled in yesterday's posting. I fixed it there, and here is the corrected version:
RITE OF BIRDS
(Poached from “That I Can Write
of Birds” by Joyce Odam,
Medusa’s Kitchen, July 10, 2018)
as colossal servants of
distraction not fleet
by the blacksmith
on huge anvil feet
they are the tree
disturbing the air
with their nervousness
though as careful
as a delicate
they totally own
my watchful eye
until we both die
beset are we
by the patience
our bodies in ruin
our minds full
alas, our cares
do not amount
to a cure
only the promise
of paradise can
yet make us pure
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