Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Do Not Touch The Dreamer

Valse des Fleurs
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Man of the wild dance—of the mad reunion,
let me dance with you, and whirl like you—
until my shadows beat like wings about me
making their own circles of lift and fall,
the way your garments whip and flail
like ghost demons of red light and
black momentum. Let me bend
in all your directions, follow
your darkest dream toward
the illusory center where
a mirror breaks—even as
you leap, through and away,
from the center that holds you.
How can you be held by images
that release you from the frantic dance
of being—you who are distant—you who
are gone—gone into the image of yourself.
You never open your eyes. You dance alone,
even as I dance beside you but avoid the mirror
that bends your fragments in a gradual glitter and
fade—and there is no further music for the dance.
Are you still my father?



The old woman is hunting for
something in the grass.
He thinks it is the stems of flowers.
The grass is deeper than her hand.
The grass is separating so she can see,
but her fingers probe and fail.
He thinks maybe it is a ring she lost,
but her eyes do not glitter.
She is moving away from him,
bending here and there to search the grass.
I guess it is the weeds, he decides,
but she is looking at the sky which is growing dark.
Now the grass is as high as
her shoulders when she reaches into it.
Finally, she picks something out of the grass
and looks at it closely then goes into the house.

 For All Eyes

After The Wall of Life, 1959 by George Constant

As in my early time, the wall of life seemed made
of colored stones—divided by lines of white—like
those pretty stones stuck on the wall of a house I
used to pass. I’d stand there,

trying to pick them off the corner of the wall to
keep for treasure. Today I thought I saw that
childhood wall again in the light of an older day—
this time it glowed—the stones

like jewels—the painted light hitting them just right
—patterned together in deliberate design : the blue
ones interlocked—as if made of hands guarding a
secret doorway.

I wanted to enter…   see what was behind…,



And in the room were light shards—who chose all the
forms to be, the pierce against cold, the very dance of
mystery from an old nerve of response and as giddy?
I was lifted through the glass as if it were not there—
not window—not chandelier. I was dance with dance,
and light with light. The room blazed again as before,
Shadows ceased to be. I could not name the colors :
jewel tones, exotic blends, no color, one color, frag-
menting the room into a clash of exploding brilliance.
There was no room now for anything to regain its same-
ness, though the surface quivered back at once—like an
hallucination turning back into sanity.

 Blue at Midnight

After Dark Birds, Dark Sea, 1959 by Milton Avery

Midnight birds in a dark blue river,
held by a spreading path of moonlight,
their gold beaks shining
in the shimmer-silence of the hour.

They seem too shadowy
to be real—as if painted
by a midnight child
in love with midnight’s deep blue color.

(first pub. in Brevities)


of Shreenathji
Two golden doves guard the smoke
that comes from the floating incense.
The eyes of the blue mask close to a slit.
An extravagance of crystals gleams sharply
against the edges of the headdress. The blue
smoke has made the two doves close their eyes
and fall into a trance—let us make up a scenario
here : the time is unknown, the place is here : in
the mystery of now. Now is secret and will not
verify. The two stone doves sleep deeply and
will not waken. The gems shine and shift in
the merest shadow-touch of the mask. The
mask is a costume of irony. The wearer
of the mask is unapproachable. It
chants prayers and warnings to
anyone who dares to touch
the face. Its eyes do not
open, but they will remember.
Do not touch the dreamer when you
back away. Do not try to steal the jewels.




How did I become this band of gold.
I thought I was a glitter-rock
in a shallow stream caressed by

years of sunlight where I felt
the water and the light reflect me
long before eyes found me there.

Now, I’m shaped to fit this finger—
turned and turned in admiration.
I like the touch. I like the circularity.

I think I was blessed :
I remember words of love
when I was passed from one hand

to another.
I even have an inscription now—
I am its guardian I think.  I honor that.

 Through Silence


Long after it was said
that we were wrong and right
for each other
because everyone knew
one truth or the other
we asked ourselves the
only question
we could ever answer.

It was then! It was then!
we learned to fear
what we had loved—
the way we changed the shadows
on a wall—
the way we stood at noon
to make no shadow.

How could we know which hope
to realize—
they all were broken.
We groped for tiny beads
upon the floor.
You had spoken first
and my answer
was this disaster.
So much for words.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

They were never for this symbol
—not the tender image of a poem,

softly jeweled by a glint
of light
on a smooth face—but a

smear of dark feeling, salty to the taste,
making wet stains upon some pillow.


Thank you to Joyce Odam today for her jewels and colors and shadows, celebrating the many shades of May, our Seed of the Week. Our new Seed of the Week is Thin Ice. Snow melt? Climate change? Rocky relationship? Send your poems, photos & 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.

Poetry East is an award-winning journal of poetry, art, interviews, and translations edited by Richard Jones [editor since 1980!] and dedicated to poetry that is immediate, accessible, timeless, and universal. We invite you to travel the world with us and join our conversation and community. Visit our website, poetryeast.org, to learn more.” Their current issue, #96 for Spring 2019, focuses on Ireland. Check it out!

Poetry Off-the-Shelves read-around meets tonight in El Dorado Hills at the library, 5pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, celebrating poetry!

 The Wall of Life
—George Contant, 1959

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.