Tuesday, December 04, 2018

My Seven-Minded Horse

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


in the sky
like a high
promise made of sunset and
voice of, say God, in His Most

Religious Moment—shining there
like a private illusion, not at all (un)like
some Neon-Cloud Formation
made of pollution dust in a windless sky,

the ocean blazing beneath it
with shimmering red light from the
disappearing sun, and lapping against

the consciousness of everything
even the silhouette of the very earth…
the breathing trees…  the (un)breathing stone
picked up at random and carried in a pocket,

where some divining hand can feel
the comfort of it. Oh, sweet digression,
you have carried me away from

The Number In The Sky
which seemed so vain
with its self-congratulation—and was

so admired by the (un)discerning,
and the envious, like an ad for happiness :
Oh, One;   Oh, Zero;   Oh, Ten.

 Winter Scape


I, with my seven-minded horse,
go through the visions of its eyes.

How high the night
we grip and ride.

Three ears east, we listen.
It is the light.

We make a silhouette
and define ourselves against the sky.

The horse dreams.
I guard its sleep.

Later it tells me :
One innocence. One flaw. One kind forgetfulness.

I am its strength,
it, my direction.

Sometimes we feast
on grass and rain.

The rest is hunger.
We are lean.

My mind is one.
The horse is free.

And always, it turns just before the
fall from where I lead it.

Sometimes we fly,
but only after death.

The rest is sad :
recapture and simple grazing.



how deep the red sunset water
how steep the blue images of trees
how smoky the sky in the reddened water

how blind the place where the river turns
and you want to turn there
though the blue trees shudder
and the red goes deeper
and the slippery bank is too dark to grasp

but you turn with the water
the redness folds you in
and the clouds continue
and even then you want to grasp at texture

(first pub. in Brevities: A Mini-Mag of
Minimalist Poems, May, 2009)



It was the red cow under the gray crackle of sky in the
gold field-light—the thundering back of sound—the
soft reverberation into nothing—the slightest movement
that the stillness knew. It was the far-off moment waiting
to be this one. It was the timing.

 Looking in Windows


Three levels. High blue sky of blue clouds—
below, two tall trees—nearby, a tall lit house
for night to see—
exaggeratedly built :

square box bottom
red roof
held up
by another
also lit.

The hill is next, rounded in night’s special green,
sloping down to a hidden valley—who lives here
with this sky, these trees, and this beaconed light,
closer to heaven’s own dark mystery,
churning all around, like a scenery . . . .


THE PERIMETER                            

Late afternoon—
the day’s light turning cold—
two girls in thin white dresses
stand on a high slope facing the
gray and distant winter sea, which,
for the moment, is calm. The girls
seem out of context—like future
beings, or ghosts of some earlier
time—one as the desire of the other—
pondering life and questioning the sea,
which always answers with long, gray
sighings that pull beyond the girls’ 
hearing—standing so still—
leaning forward to listen
—outside the perimeter
of the rickety white fence—
where they seem frozen
except for the sheer,
white movement
of their dresses,
flaking shades of gray
thickening around them
in this capturing moment
that threatens to hold them forever.

 Turning Point


Soon they will pleasure to the night and love,
holding the future closer than it is,
yearning that far together with their eyes—

all that they mean and want, hot in their eyes;
all that they give to trust, wild in their love.
What they will learn is what the difference is.

Passion is what the first compulsion is,
and what remains will suffer in their eyes:
infatuation stays in love with love—

and love—before it is—will haunt the eyes.



An unfurling of white umbrellas
from a great height of weightlessness
on a day of spent light—moving
like ripples and bouncing the raindrops

over the wet streets. It was a camouflage,
I thought—a great mass of winter souls
in migration followed by a white singing
of birds that were invisible.

I felt my window tremble with joy
at the spectacle as the floor swayed 
and I wondered how so many
floating umbrellas could fit the space

of my watching. My own umbrella
stood dry and folded beside the door
with my keys and things that I needed.
I wanted to be down there among them,

but did not want to give up my view
as the umbrellas kept touching
and parting in their maneuverings—
occasional bits of sidewalk showing through.

The height deepened and left me no time
to decide—the window opened
and the room-light poured through
and my umbrella flew into my hands.



Note this craggy waterfall struggling down
the jutted rocks—the land broken—

the one tree barely alive

and the tufts of straggle-grass—
the flat white sky—

and the clumsy way we stumble
over this terrain

as we go
from one word to another

and your eyes are hot,
and mine are cold,

and we have left the even ground
for this—

this terrible moor,
something to get across—

admire even—for its significance,

this trickle of chance
for anything to survive until the rain.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

The night
off the roof
into the arms
of some beloved
admirer—you flew
—flew down the dark
into the net—caught.


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for her poems about our Seed of the Week, the little house in the dark woods: its roof, the darkness, the rain... Ekphrastic poetry, as you know, is not just a description of the picture—it's about what the picture evokes. It's okay to talk around the picture. And Joyce notes that the Tritina form (as found in The Bird Catcher by Marie Ponsot) is three stanzas, three lines each, each line ending in one of a set of three words, patterned:

1, 2, 3  /  3, 1, 2  /  2, 3, 2  /  1, 2, 3  

An additional line at the conclusion of the poem contains all of the end words.   

Our new Seed of the Week is Too Rushed For My Own Good. 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.

Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets in El Dorado Hills tonight, 5-7pm, at the library on Silva Valley Parkway. And there’s an addition to our Thursday calendar: Mary Mackey will read from her new book at the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis (plus open mic), 8pm. Mary and Andy Jones can be heard in conversation on KDVS (90.3FM) this Wednesday night, 5:30pm, on Dr. Andy’s Poetry and Technology Hour. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


Celebrate Poetry—and the art of slowing down!

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