Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Like A Homing

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento

After a painting by Kathrine Lemke Waste

A certain rage
like words upon a page—
ceramic blue—real peach,
the nothing we can reach.

Rumple the cloth around
the last confining sound
that rustles in the light
and makes the dark too tight

for self-hate or self-pride
revealing what we hide:
the art so poor
that it cannot endure;

the center’s dark surprise,
that wounds the opened eyes;
the canvas we destroy,
the tantrum we enjoy;

the efforts we abuse
for all the art we lose,
like words upon a page
torn by a certain rage.



I enter the house of angels and
am at once given a halo to carry
with me as I browse and admire.
The power of love is everywhere
in elegance and simplicity
and I am in the influence. I am
reduced to surprise of humility
I want to soar through my own heart
like a reunion; I want my eyes
to preserve everything they see
in my symbolic need of angels.
The aisles narrow. . .angels balance
on shelves. . . crystal-bodied angels
sparkle from glass enclosures . . .
a cloy of angels fastens to the
walls. . .they overlap. . .they are
too many. . .they become one. . .
I am overwhelmed. . .I buy nothing. . .
I go out the door, still holding on
to my wire and glitter halo.

(first pub. in CFCP Winning Poems
     Booklet, 1997 and Hayden’s 
     Poetry Review, 1997)



what would we feel—

what new sensation
for lack of feeling . . .

what does numbness know of touch,
what not to trust of the brightest red,
the hottest yellow, the saddest blue . . .

how could we not bruise
the softest pastel,
the subtle fading against all texture,
the quietness of white . . .

and how not be overwhelmed by
the heaviest of tones that are almost black,
that throb in backgrounds 
and cut against edges of completion—
as against frames . . .

why would we enter   
such a strange unknown,
except for
some need that is never satisfied:
the wanting to blend—
become part of that which thrills us . . .

(After "Another Spring Uncovered" 
by May Sarton)

(After “Love” by May Sarton)

It was only love, and I was its failed student,
always looking out the window
into some daydream . . .

I mistrusted it, thinking its edges over-
powered its center
that was too far away, and deep . . .

I struggled with it—wanting it to be
different—wanting it
to equal my perfect illusion of it . . .

I could never learn my way
through all its disappointments.
It was love—a changeling—ungraspable . . .

Even now, I call it—censure it—challenge it
again—willing to soften my terms—
if only it will love me past my harsh resistance . . .


Japanese Irises
Propped Against Stripped Wall :

Ruin against ruin ,
what will survive here ,

among words ,
broken into sentences

thrown against walls in little shouts
and whimperings . . .

how long will it take—life against death
—survival against destruction ?

Weeds or flowers in their own struggles
and surrender . . . Oh, that I can lose myself .

Oh, that I should
turn against myself like that—
in such confusion and desire—
in all the ways of self-destruction.
Who will help me . . . ?

Here we are hidden in white,
a surrender of mercy and fear—

that we will be found
trembling beyond description—

our own cries for help
that even we ignore .

It is the whole of it—
the entire arrangement : words
on white page , the description
struggling to be known by any other way .




of realization

Petals :
sweet mouths of flowers
sweet eyes of flowers
innocent and loved

entering and entering
this harsh existence
of life and its welcome

oh, and oh, how fragile

Sorrows :
Each sad little death bears such burdens
of regret . How can we bear them all ?
They haunt us : each fallen bird and
dying flower , given this small tribute of words

the moiré of darkness,
lying in wait .

Someone I Loved :   
Whose face is this ,
staring out of the darkness—
whose memoried face , eyes hidden,
mouth in a tight silence—
still not revealed through this dim memory ?

To return
    is to go where . . . ?

It is you—
    this memory-world

so full of shreds
and blurs—its dark receding . 

(After Re-Arrangements: A Book
of Wall Flowers Photographed by 
Debra Heimerdinger, Text by Collette)



Old love is
sheltered in the
brimming mind—
the long
and the tempered now.
Rose-colored by time
how loyal it stays
to all that it
It makes its own
conditions of give
and take—
old love that still belongs
to love—
the comfort of time
that endures
and knows no failure.


(Balboa, California, 1940s)

The small sea-house grew musty in winter
with its dark wood
and its just-so window shades,
pulled even.

All the tourist noise was gone,
and the days endured themselves,
and the nights,
and the sea rolled in and out of time
with a certain patience.

The quiet light seemed almost blue
when the day closed down
and the sea-sounds muffled against the air
like a lamentation.

The house would creak and brace itself
against whatever force
was set against it.

To live by the sea in winter
is a lonely waiting:
too cold to stroll by day—
too gray its colorless dimension.
I was too young to love it then.
That would come later.

Tonight I think of that small house
with a sweet remember;
the safe domestic hum
as I bided my time to be gone from there;
the quiet rustling of the rooms;
the restless way I stared out into the night
from the gaze-back window.


Today's LittleNip:


The esteemed poet stands in a marsh of
swirling words that settle around him
like a homing of white birds;
he can have his pick of them
but only stands there—
stunned to silence
by the sheer whiteness,
of the words—
blinded by them, even,
when he contemplates
loving one
more than another—
wanting to capture them, somehow,
in immortal poems, 
when all he can do is watch them
in their shining presence,
and become their poem.   


—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam, who will be undergoing hip surgery Dec. 12. Keep her in your thoughts!

Our new Seed of the Week is Angels, and don't forget to think metaphorically! (Poets do find it hard to take anything at face value.) When have angels (guardian or fallen or vengeful) popped into your life? Tell us about your take on them and send it to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs, either; maybe you're still in the midst of Overwhelmed...

Like a Homing of White Birds...