Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Wanting to Know Green

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


I, too, am this
odd music
drawn out of time
like a reluctant sound
as far away as Eden.

I am timbered free for the
first time,
for the first free time.

I am as old
as you think I am.

I vibrate for all the love
that is in me.
Do not be afraid of
this wild sound
in all your quietness.

I am not a usual music.
I am thin and far.
I am heavy with new pregnancies.
I am diagonal like the rain.

Loneliness is
as brutal as love,
but not as tame.

It walks in the self
like a brooder
in the night-time of his garden.
It mutters in the gray wind
in the oldest trees.

So send me back along the leaves
if you want to know green.
If you want me to be real
bring me a silence to fill.

I will not be kind.
I will be sung
from your deepest listening.
You will love me then.                                

(from The Hearkeners, Charas Press, 1973)


I am a water lily, floating upon a dream,
my petals breathe,
the air is green    the light is cool,
I feel little touchings of love


when I was a reflection I felt the separation
from self,   sinuate,    textureless,
when touched, I broke


now you ask why I keep floating
in peaceful imagination
content and enough


my petals breathe,
I feel little touchings of love
the air is green    the light is cool,
I am a water lily, floating upon a dream



He stares at her through an open window—
which is to say—the night.  She is always
nude.  He is always green shadow.  A tree
of darkness conceals him.  Her room is
yellow.  She turns abstract—becomes cubes,
blushes with praise for his eyes.  He speaks
to her in a hollow voice . . . wind-whispers . . .

she listens without answer;  she is absorbed
by all the turning and arranging of the light;
the way the room magnifies; the way the night
enters; the way the tree wraps its branches
around the mirror.  He cannot close his eyes.
She cannot make up her mind about the glass,
which is about to shatter.  She turns out the light.


Jealousy looms—
personified with outspread wings
and wearing a green mask.

You will feel him at your window—
pulsing the air like a dark hummingbird.
You will feel his eyes
which are hidden;
his thoughts
will inform you.

You belong to him.
His energy will enfold you
until you are a suffocated thing
that cannot breathe without his permission.



How serenely she wears
the art of the painter’s hand
who painted her all green—

or is it the deception of light
turning her into
a numinous map of the sea

that follows her contours
with shapes and symbols
of intricate design—

even to the closed mouth
and eyelids, the hair sculpted
into deep waves: how

ever swim back now
to the real
and lose all this… how

ever clothe, and hide
the breathing design of her body,
so perfectly stained…



The rain is in love with the grasses.
It touches them with wet, green kisses
and they glisten in its windy murmurs.

Love, come again to all such places
where I have lain, the inner weeds
insinuating, the small, tame flowers

around me dying.  Love, come as rain.
When my mouth can know such bruising,
soft is the pain.

(prev. pub. in Retrospect, 1969)



Now she will praise the child for its eyes upon
her eyes in the mirror, their faces identically
serious, her eyes controlling their eyes in the glass.

Her hands stroke the air—blending their auras.
The child is soothed by the sensuous movement
of her hands. A warm glow suffuses the room.

The mirror grows envious—feigns dimension . . .
pulls her . . . pulls her . . .but the grave child
holds to her lap and stares through her eyes

to the pulling eyes of the mirror. The mother
admires the child for its attention. Their eyes
burn together in the glass. The mirror pretends

to love them too. It softens its surface—forgets
it is glass, suffers the warm perfusion to alter its
depth. It, too, is under the power of the mother.

(prev. pub. in Tiger’s Eye, 2003)


Did he not walk with utter nonchalance in the misty rain,
not hastening a moment for his saunter through the green
light, his white hair lifting slightly at his step, one hand in
pocket, his face lifted into the late afternoon, which was
slow—slow enough for us to watch him pass before the
stopped car with his singular gait, his long gray raincoat
tied at the waist, his steps at rhythm with the length of
the light that changed and broke the spell of our watching.



The bridge is for
old men walking

the long way back and forth
from sleep to drinking

over the gray-green water
lisping— lapping—

silvering in the wind’s
constant deeping.

Cold is the shiver of time
in the daily passing.

Hot is the sun’s bright pressure
in the pale eyes, glassing.

(prev. pub. in Driftwood, 1972)


Time comes to me like
some long whisper out of death,
sounding from the stem
of its own flower,
to where I bend
within the cold voice
of my mind.

Death, then, is tubular
and green,
a dreaded dandelion
flocked finished seed
like all spilled language
on life’s closing sky.
My particles give up their
bursting cry to silence.
Winds come darkly to the quiver
that defines in them.

My energies unwind.
The whisper
listening for my earth against
its winter root . . .
the milk lies bitter in the stem.

(prev. pub. in Kauri, 1996)


Today’s LittleNip(s):


the blue man
holding his hand out
to the soaring bird


in the air, alight
with fire-eyes, the phoenix sings,
feathers still burning


winter in the park
a seagull frozen to the lake . . .


wind ripples
bending grasses, the air
green with sibilance

(prev. pub. in
Poets’ Forum Magazine, 1996)


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for helping us think about green, our previous Seed of the Week. Our new SOW is Topsy-Turvy. Send your poems, photos and artwork about same to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs.