Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Pilgrim

Mountains and Sky
—Poems and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


The sky, so wonderful,   so close,   so far,
with its panoramic clouds      its endless-
ness—how it sets me to gazing :

Does sky touch earth?
If not,
where does sky begin its invisible texture?

And the night sky, with its nomadic moon,
wandering the huge sky until
it is almost gone—feeling my eyes follow.

Of course, I know this is not thus—
but the mysterious continuations
of sky that compel me so.

And I roll this earth around under my feet
with great imaginary skill, feeling it go round,
and marveling why I don’t fall off….


(Balboa, 1941)

Shallow waders,
wet roar of invisible dark waves,
brushing ourselves with shining hands—
our phosphorescence.

 Green Mirage


The invisible white fish
in the pond at night

with only the moonlight

to where 
the invisible white fish live

and with each other;

you imagine them : silver ripples
that move in unison—

that have no shadows—
that are invisible.



this region
of self . . .
this solitude . . .
this time,
unbroken . . .

this grove
entered for
its slanted light . . .
the harmony of its trees . . .
its depth into quietness . . .

this time, cut off
from any other,
the world
dropped away,
with its noise
and its uniformic
clothing . . .

the choice
the linear path
into the abstract center
where a shimmering

mirror is waiting . . .
a lake
of pure gray water
where the shadows are drawn back
like twilight curtains

and the
sweet-voiced birds
are singing

 Insomnia Bird

(After The Reach by Michael Whelan)

In the perfect center of a motionless blue void I suspend
like a stopping of time, with the distance above and the

distance below of equal compulsion. Above me, a dome
of violet shadow and curving windows with no view and

a dim escape of ladders that climb past a swoop of breath-
held silence and an invisible flutter of wings. Below me,

a murmurous fading of applause while I hold to the pose
like that reached-for moment that dancers know between

leap and release back into gravity. I am a horizontal line
of stillness, connected by ceiling rope and rings and the

balance and skill of my own performance. Hovered thus,
I reach down and something reaches back. Our eyes con-

nect.  Above me, something sighs and lets go.   



…motion of life…the face
in transfiigurement of mood
the changing attitude

the invisible look of air
(if we could see it)
as we move through it

the way a silence
shapes to sound
and sound to silence

the way the eyes
draw in their sorrow

the way time moves
within the clock
and yesterday in tomorrow…

(first pub. in The Lace Review, 1969;
later posted on
Medusa’s Kitchen, 2011)

 Places on the Map


I take the loud map of time and follow it—the flat land-
scapes—the edge of direction—the vertigo of distance.

My old eye clears the way and removes all obstacles. I
thrill to the path of birds, those silences that were song.

I wade through the dreams that assail the dark intervals
between sleeps—every mountain has another side and
every sea its crossable depth. I enter forest after forest

with familiar longing—whoever else is there has not
found me. I am invisible, though I have seen my own
image in reality after reality—that clouded mirror.

I fetch far into the realms of distance, those gray mirages
that tremble and hold and wrap around me when I arrive.

I am the pilgrim, and the anchored one. I diverge. I go and
stay with the same intention.


So what am I doing but writing my life in pieces,
little prosy pages of impressions and recollections,
muted with time and time’s philosophy—what I know,

and think I know. All the trailings and currents.
Fragments that tease, and haunt, and insist.
If I were a poet I would do better, I mourn—

seeking into myself for what, and who,
and why—all those w’s—leaning into my life
with all my balance—all my falling.

Head-long! my mother would tell me, if she
were still here to tell me . . . . she, who already . . . .
and here is where I differ with my quarreling self.

I want to be whole, not these spiraling, restless
fragments, kaleidoscopic in the happenstance—am I
the reflecting mirror, or the colorful pieces of glass?

I fascinate myself with the mystery of  ‘being me’
knowing all others bear the same fascination of self,
and how do fragments connect to a single knowing?

Feeling this, I watch the twilight birds in their single
flurries of motion  . . . . rising and turning together
as a single unit . . . . of what part of this am I . . . ?

 Unto the Heavens


Now there is only one thing left to do :
make sense of the words:

here is the setting, the arrangement,
the simplicity.

But there is more :
the ‘here’ they represent—

the invisible loom
on which they fit—your mind,

the shuttle.
You know what to do.


Today’s LittleNip:
(After Edgar Allen Poe,
Artist: Edmund Dulac, 1882-1953)

Upon a high bed now, she lies,
underneath the brooding skies,
huddled figures writhe below
huddled in their robes of woe
—woe to beauty, lying there
in the ghosted, roiling air—

ghost of beauty, ghost of love,
silent soul that will not die—
rising gently now into
the invisible heavens of the sky.


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s breakfast talk of the invisible, last week’s Seed of the Week. Our new SOW is Stuck. Send your poems, photos and 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.


 Celebrate poetry!—even when you get stuck…

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