Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When Silence Does Not Work

Yellow Orchids
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

After Stables, 1913-14 by Franz Marc

it was music that fell first to structure of decibels
assigned to silence 
vivified in shattered mirrors 
frozen on amazement of sharp design 
roundness and straight line
blent and mingled by the eye which craved surprise
and found it

in the way
reality was torn and lent to something lost amid
panels of illusion
curtains of suggestion
something behind something

movement frozen
to make more movement
a face here—a hand there—a listening
a force of unreality so strong
it becomes clear
even as it shards away
into the next kaleidoscopic shift of self’s illusion


in a fool’s cap
pleading for madness

flat to the wall of dampness
the air closing

against the scream
which is rising

for the sake of screaming
that old dream of dread

how to simply merge 

through the solid doorway



for what they are—they are words.
I never meant to say them,
but the brokenness was there
and the heart replied—spilling like blood.

I emptied. You recoiled.
Turned white as my mirror.
I died then, in a rage so beautiful
I took it as a life lesson.

When silence does not work—when
patience does not work—when lies
and truth are stuck together like an
explanation—words tangle together

so beautifully they do their terrible
work despite all repercussion—
silence as aftermath—purified and calm,
the rage-heart beating again.

After “Silence” by William Carlos Williams

Something as silent as a whir of thought
in its passing—

as bird shadow, peripheral,
and slow—

as the moment is slow
in its impression—

what else is there to note
and lose before the loss is realized?



The bird has no name
so I call him silence.
I make up my own prayers for him.

The bird has no eyes
so I call him Dark.
He looks at me through color.

The bird has no mind
so I call him Oblivion.
He sings and sings.

(first pub. in Hibiscus Magazine, 1988)


If I could take words into my silence,
I might call you love, I might call you
ragged witch of heaven.

But words are hard to hear. We never
speak. Great vowels of pain take form
and we are lost again in one another.

Once there were two of us, spitting and
snarling like cold water on hot stones.
It was a wilderness. We were the beasts.

Even the cities ignored our strange ways
of walking with shadows at night,
and dreading the lack of them by day.

What’s in a silence
that must be given form—
that must be taken apart to be solved?

There is a loon cry—I have never
heard one—and an owl cry I think I heard
once. That comes closest to what I mean.

I am one lonely town. You are another.
How come we stayed, or left
and returned?

All is
confusion now.
Even the walls have stopped listening.



I talk again to old blue stones
that don’t respond, but shift and stare
from their blue depth, deflecting light
as secretive as what I write—
with all the meanings hidden where
nothing betrays…  nothing atones…

THE LIMITATIONS               
After Circle Limit III, 1959 by E.M. Escher

all I did was follow the circles to the center
coming anew to this roundness
as to a place

and there you were
with your old reflection
your sad eyes

your inarticulate mouth
which opened and closed
on silence:


the distortion of this thought:
and true to the eloquence of art

with all its longing—its ambition
glass walls and sunlight—the timing it takes,
and once again a failure to amaze the critics,

and we, in our old routine, move silently
around each other in a love-like dance:
how gracefully we blend in studied sensuality.

Today’s LittleNip:


Must I always
write of stones

and bring them

to you
in heavy poems?


Thank you, thank you to Joyce Odam for today’s poems and pix exploring Silence. Our new Seed of the Week is Green, celebrating the season! Send poems, photos and artwork about that subject (or any other!) to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs.