Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Wearing That Old Song

The Singleness of a Flower
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


a flurry of birds
a white fence
a house

an old road stretching by with no one on it
a time of day
not noted for this verse
. . . all that motion . . . all that stillness . . .

a wide play of sky to hold the birds
a frame of land to hold the house
a boundary to hold the fence

an isolation so severe the birds break free to escape it

a house
a fence
a lack of birds

two disappearing ends for the road that stretches by
with no one on it


You are the one I almost love.
How will I hold you now,
my arms are cold and distant;
I wear an old song in my mouth.

You are coming toward me in warm light.
You are carrying a rose,
oh, you are carrying a rose.
I reach out into the emptiness between us.

You are walking through me
in the warm light. It is the mirror.
It is the mirror between us.
I am on both sides. You are on neither.

It is the false light that hinders everywhere.
It shifts and loses us too easily.
It cannot hold.
No wonder I cannot find you.

Now you are sitting in a circle,
your own reflection, a new-formed sea,
surreal as always,
I move toward you,

but there is no substance of reality,
you cannot hear me or see me.
I am under water,
deeply breathing.

 Questioning The Dark

After Tree by Alice Neel

It is so far now to the house, past the old tree
that is such an embarrassment in winter and
such a poor hiding place for winter birds
and summer’s memory, the snow
piled up against its trunk
and the empty doghouse
in the yard, the snow
covering any
that were
unlit and
cold, showing
no new sign of
chimney smoke
or curtain pulling
back to look out—no
breath-circle on the glass—
best not to make the effort—
best not create a new disturbance
in the snow not deep enough yet
to become an isolation from the
world—best let it all obliterate and
swirl away again; it’s all an old ghost-look
can really do—there’s nothing there except
the privacy of snow, not ever me, not ever you.

 Stem As Answer


Angels flutter their wings
In their transparency
I see them

or is that an error of human imagination :
what are gods without angels
angels without gods

but I see them from the hundred windows
that my mind creates,   believes,   denies,
these spellings of illogical truth.

I feel the chill at my back
and turn around to the disconnection
of a receding, dispassionate landscape.


               the white pallet the moon
               spreads across the leaves
               is like a fairytale
               turning dark at the edges
                                —Lloyd Van Brunt

You hear yourself weep softly in the night. 
You hear night answer with its own release.

The room of misery opens out
into a sad endlessness.

You feel yourself enter the permission
of the dark.

You are unhealed.
You are unfound.

Nowhere is there light,
though light surrounds you—

elsewhere—in some soft memory,
like a sheet.

It hums with direction—melts against
the cold enclosing shadow, and goes out.

 Against the Unknown

Brussels, 6 Rue du Lac

The beautiful blue door stands in the way of the city and
the vanishing land. On one side is the ideal, on the other,
the real. Which is which, asks the glorified blue window
through which the difference intensifies.

The door is the art of the mind, holding time against the
forces of time; there is only this division, praise for the
developers; upheaval and crumble vie for balance.

What is the door to this; it is one of a kind, designed
for awe and envy; it has only one true side for its
admiration—who would know otherwise—
the door is bewildered by what is demanded:

remain thus forever, open to eyes of passersby,
fame for its creator. The entrance is closed to all but
the curiosity of wealth and elegance, of rank and stature.
The door is the reminder of the work—the house of it—the
unattainability of it, though the unprivileged are told otherwise.

 Mysterious Depths

After Le Peintre by Henri Matisse, 1916

Swaddled on the canvas, on the chaise,
the room light barely there. Outdoors,
the small tree shivers, casts no hint
of shadow in the watery sunlight.

The artist—nude—
and from a wooden
chair, contemplates the
wretched model, huddled
from the cold—her dull face
turned toward the open window.
Time ticks forward—involves the
trio : nude, canvas, model, waiting
for the winter light to be sufficient.

 Many As One

After Flight of Birds by Morris Graves, 1955

terror-force of movement—
the skies intruding—a collage
of birds becoming a wingless blur
taking on the shape of one comet-fall
through ultimate migration.  

                              which way forward
which way back ?
                              the skies change,

making a hole (  ) to fly through.

now they are each  )(  part of the other,

each one leading  >  <  each one following:      
                                        remember them ?


Today’s LittleNip:

Psychological Morphology by Roberto Matta

The sun is the eye now
How it sees

Spilled jars of colors
Oil on water    Caught by the eye

A fold in the middle
A division     Two sides and an edge

Somewhere a signature. In code.
An “N” and an “N”: no vowels.

There is always a focal point
That shimmers      It has a center.

There are knobs and tryings
Too slow to verify.

Let us leave this panel
Before it overwhelms.

—Joyce Odam


Our thanks to Joyce Odam today as she weaves her way through our Seed of the Week, Marooned, playing up the isolation of people and hearts and houses, even  some “concrete” poetry to help drive home her images.

Our new Seed of the Week is Dead Ends. 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.

—Medusa (Celebrate Poetry!)

 Psychological Morphology
—Painting by Robert Matta, 1938

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.