Tuesday, January 08, 2019

The Brevity of Flowers

Night Sounds
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


and there is the white moon hanging
and a dark cat passing under,
prissy-footed in a stubble-field,
and a slow-motioned dog is barking,
far away it seems,
and the moon is sharp and full
and the cat is slowly stepping
through the shadows
and has almost reached the end now
and is just an abstract motion
in the field’s absorption
and the dog has hushed
and the moon has not quite paled
and the soft blue tone of morning
is just beginning
and a slight cold breeze
gets through as a crow takes
its dark silhouette across the window
and a long block away, across the field,
a jogger runs, tiny as a toy, and the cars
flow by him with their headlights on
and the spell is breaking



the midnight cat slinks
through the yellow moonlight
trailing its enormous shadow
night smudges the dark,
rustles the leaves,
muffles the sounds that follow
the white fence gleams
the lane curves
the stars inspect the gravel
the late night warns
night sounds crunch
the slow moon loses its yellow
the hushed leaves listen
the cat returns
dragging its ragged shadow 

 The Hushed Leaves

After Young Girl in the Park, 1957
by Tsugouhara Foujita (1886-1968)

You are fenced in with the roses, stroking the demented
cat that squirms against you. Behind you, park-goers are
unaware of your domestic wilderness. In distances of time
their lives are lived in theirs, and you in yours. As the time-
less day recedes, they become even smaller, growing back-
wards into a previous history,
though you never move
past this moment. 

The possessive roses
preen around you in the last
low light, sheathing their thorns,
the revelers but tiny silhouettes now, specks of dark-
ness, proof of your confinement. The trees have over-
grown the meadow. Light has softened there as well
as where you are. Look away, mind-dreaming child,
unfasten your gaze, your strange melancholy, the mind-
less way you hold onto your childhood which stays in
the overshadowed meadow with the revelers.

 The Murmurings


young and wild
wine and confetti
danger in the alleys…

intoxicate each other
the night is drunk with you
and fickle unto others…

morning will catch you
in a smothering wing,
sink and dream the pretty sleep…

your masks
will also sleep
and remember none of this…

 The Brevity of Flowers


She bends down to feed a cat
and she praises her own goodness.


Her eyes are quieter than a statue’s
and her skin is cold in
the thin hands of beginners.


Consider her smile.
She is opportunity and loss.
She is patient and her anger smoulders.


She is basic,
letting her naked children
rise to her shoulders like angels.


She belongs to the mirrors
which disembody her
mood by mood and season by season.


She will not complain
unless she be cruel about it.


How can she be old . . .
she is humming her safe tune
to the brevity of flowers.

 Mood by Mood

After Russian Impressionism (works by twenty-two academy
trained master Russian Artists of the past and present)

She is the center—her own muse—
her hands on her lap, her face in a stare.
Memories rest in layers around her:
the closed distance of her mother,
the mute presence of her father;
the attentive white cat on the lap
of an ancestor—seven lives ago.
She feels herself merge,
tries to pull away,
but the past has got her :

the visions swirl :
the old house she lived in,
the murmuring linger of vanished voices,
the thick scent of flowers in heavy vases,
the road of tall trees down to the lake,
the old cabin on the eroding bank,
the drift of summers,
the place where it snowed—
the polished fruit on the polished table
back to the present room that fits around her.

 A Strange Melancholy


driving slowly
on a road with three undulations
with a dangerous curve at the end
and a rag on the road that
looks like a cat
which we swerve to avoid



Dear Rain,
I’m glad
you’re back; I heard
you all last night. . . .
you soothed my restless sleep
and now at day’s first light
my cat sits on the windowsill
and watches you…and watches you . . .
I just

Today’s LittleNip:

A Boy with a Cat by Renoir

Absently staring
into day-dream’s distance,
he strokes the cat
which purrs against his face . . .


Thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s peek at some cats, alley (our Seed of the Week) and otherwise. Her “Epistle” is a Double Cinquain: that’s 2244668822 syllables.

Our new Seed of the Week is Twilight. For the three different types of twilight, go to www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/different-types-twilight.html/. 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.

Tonight, drive up to El Dorado Hills for Poetry Off-the-Shelves from 5-7pm at the El Dorado Hills Library on Silva Valley Parkway. 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.


 Alley Cat Opinions, Part Deux
—Anonymous Photo
(Celebrate Poetry!—and opinions everywhere!)

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.