—Poems and Original Art by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA
TODAY I WON’T WRITE ABOUT ANYTHING
Not about—not about—just of. Just essence, slant,
suggestion. I want the eloquent waves of thought
to wash over me and leave their dissolving words . . .
no, that won’t do : I want a flat white screen of
sky and a white floor made of air, I want to
drift there as unspoken thought, I want to
fall as white rain among the sorrows
and the solitudes—touch
every face as
tears . . .
that’s not it.
I want a cave to hold me . . .
I will sit at its dark table and
write whatever dark words come
to me. I am sad, and that is enough
to be. I will say that to you, if you are listening.
LISTENING TO CHOPIN ON A GRAY DAY
I play Chopin, over and over, all morning and into the
afternoon, and fall into some old time that was his, and
feel how sad such distances become and how wonder-
ful to still connect. And I am glad that I have made the
reach, and wonder about him: Handsome. So young.
Tubercular. A genius. On his way to early death—
that stealer. I feel the gray day as tenacious as that,
this day-long fog that sifts into mind and mood and
sorts out the music of my bones. I am in love with
music that can use such gray to enhance the misery
of winter. He must have felt the same cold about his
shoulders, in his composing hands, and so created
what I listen to today—hour after hour—how I de-
feated for awhile that Sacramento Tule fog that stays
and stays and stays.
ALONG THE FENCE
The dog barks back and forth
along the fence
and agitates the darkness
with his frenzy . . .
underneath the open window
on the narrow path along the house,
where the shape passes . . .
where the sound listens . . .
all along the white fence in the
darkness, where something moves
and pauses . . . moves and pauses . . .
while the dog barks.
YOU BRING IT HOME IN YOUR HANDS
There is an hour
known as love.
It flutters about in the heart
like a little lost bird.
You bring it home in your hands
and you buy it a cage.
You buy it seed
and a cuttlebone.
You give it a mirror
and a little swing.
And you hover
and coax it to sing.
And you listen awhile,
and for a sweet while
love is not your prisoner.
(first pub. in Oregonian Verse, 1971)
He takes the red night apart, bird by
bird and branch by branch of the black tree.
I have seen him do it.
He aims his eyes to what he wants
and goes ‘click’ with his mind
and spares the world another tragedy.
Another day will come, safe as a song.
She asks him, “How many sorrows
does it take to make a love?”
“None,” he smiles . . . “there is
no sorrow deep enough.” He turns
his camera toward the mirror of her eyes.
“Smile,” he says. She smiles;
and that is love enough for one of them.
(first pub. in The Listening Eye, 2000)
THE AUTHOR OF ALL MY SORROWS
Who am I to say love is not possible. I count
all the blessings and offer loneliness. I listen
to the story and ask for a different ending.
This one is familiar and always necessary.
The author of all my sorrows is hesitant to go
on, but I say: Hurry, we must get to the place
of tears, shining with expectation—we must not
waste them. But he demurs, saying:
How can I love you? You are a river, you are
always drowning, and I am tired of saving you.
You offer me a bridge but I do not know which
end leads where.
But who am I to say love is not possible. I own
all the pretensions. I have never been more
sincere. I stand for a long time looking at the
moon drowning in the river.
“Listen to the sounds of waves within you.”
A string of white nerve.
Your mind in a frame of thought—
deeper than deep, where you are now,
in curve of blue, in shine of light.
Don’t go too far—
stay in the real,
know where each is,
eyes closed for inner balance—
letting life go into un-life,
mystery of who and where,
the push and pull
of real and unreal—
How ancient you are.
One is the same,
except for the difference,
except for the fleeting loss of self,
except for the knowing
which will forget.
makes a sound.
The white string twists.
The white feather loses connection,
floats down as you float,
continuing its curious journey.
LATE ADVICE TO THE NON-LISTENERS
Wings don’t melt, no one can carry wings through desire
to fly. Not even the willing sky will accommodate such
an ambition. Wings do not adorn well the costume of
impositional desire—just as fire will not burn though
ice. Wings are for birds, and airplanes—not even
butterflies would acknowledge the audacity of
human beings who try to fly—sky heights are
dangerous to such ambition. Rather flap
your arms from a rooftop—consider
the law of gravity—against what?
Your strongest fancy? So, go
ahead—lift, lift, lift,
from the edge—
Nothing leads me to words
though you speak
though I listen
though I travel what you say
and arrow nowhere . . .
How can this lead the dumb
into eloquence, there is
only the long line of silence
thinning like a road
into a receding horizon . . .
How can the shining silence
reach the urgency of thought
that struggles to transcend
the locked mind that cannot form
the words that poetry demands . . .
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for this morning’s fine poetry and original artwork! Today she’s talking about sound and silence, our Seed of the Week. Our new Seed of the Week is Worry. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
For up-coming poetry events in our area, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
—Medusa, celebrating the sounds of the waves ~
“How ancient you are. How new.”
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.