Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Time is a Shadow

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


All day
he traces his findings into poetry,

his long and patient journeys
into what he knows and seeks to know.

This time he is a fisherman, standing
in patient loneliness while all around him

the sudden mouths of fish sing to his effort
and make him weep and fail.

How many mermaids
have offered him their souls . . . ?

He rewards their memory by saying
all their names on other shores.

What a soft shadow he makes
at twilight; small against the immensity;

small against the sky;
small against the swift night

which is never surprised
to find him there.



I am all memory. I am small. I am in the house of round-
ness. Rooms swallow me even as I enter another of them.
Walls mute my meaning with their own importance. As
long as I dream, I may stay here, season after season of my
life. I am the child of darkness. Daylight frightens me. I
stand away from windows with their harsh reflections. No
one else has ever lived here. How have I created this out
of my mother’s endless escape from every threat of rooted-
ness. My doll sits on a couch facing me with accusation.
Its arms out-stretch… outstretch… but I can never cross
the distance it takes to get to her. I am the doll. I am the
distance. I never find myself.

 Quiet Hours

After Morning by Gregory Kondos

The paint has not dried—will never dry
under the layer upon layer

of the artist’s revisions,
there is only the wide green land

with the suggestion of a house
among trees—after half a century

the house still there, pulled back
in a frame of time—around it,

the unpopulated fields
with the gold splashes of sunshine,

the wide clear sky drifting over,
the day’s shadows taking their time.

 The Day


These calendar days go by so slow they trace
the hours with a broken minute-hand.
Whatever lays its shadows on the land
must—in the morning—all of them erase.

And who knows whence the presence of the vase
so thickly draining—measured with wet sand—
the calendar days going by so slow they trace
the hours with a broken minute-hand.

And no one knows who turns the calendar page
as if that’s not for us to understand.
Time is a shadow—and it has no face—
and, shadow-like, must all of time erase.
These calendar days go by so slow they trace
the hours with a broken minute-hand.

 Sun Spots


Consider a summer chair
against a white wall,

the way its shadow plays
against the moving light,

the way the hour seems
to barely crawl,

the way the daylight
barely changes

though a chill sets in
and shudders on the white
illusioned warmth awhile
where sunlight

tries to linger
as the shadows win,

and as the season changes,
you surprise

an early shiver
and go in.



She stood in gray daylight
in shifting shadow,
in ritual of en-
that it rained…
that the hour was
leaning into darkness…
she motioned the world by…

 Window Light


How round she is in day’s soft window-light,
bending her arms above her head,
her hands in her hair,
her face a mask of pleasure—
her whole self anointed by tender shadow.
How round she is, her soft fat pleasing
to the room’s dim eye—
her belly—her thighs—the width of her hips—
her eyes soft, looking toward the daylight.

How round, how round, her round self
posing for some admiring camera
made of love for her—adoring, adoring
her roundness, the soft touch of her hair
through her hands, the way she sits on the floor
by the window.

How round the hour that holds her like this—
a safe round hour that will move slowly
around her—slowly like a look of pleasure.
For this she wills herself to be beautiful—
never self conscious—never shy.



Wrapped in music, she goes deep—
goes deep into her own

composing heart :
how long ago is love . . . ?

how far away is time . . . ?
She finds a place to be.

Her eyes glaze
to a distant stare.

Someone is there, evolving into
a commiserate sadness.

They embrace. The music dies away
and leaves them there.

 Picking Hops


It’s not as if they spun the daylight down—
dizzy with love’s sweet vertigo—and young,
—brash as children—but he broke his crown

and she forgot the little song she’d sung
and they forgave themselves their little folly :
how they tumbled ; how they wept and clung,

—he as hero. She could not stay jolly.
There was no metaphoric pail of water—
no such chore. He had heard a volley :

War, he whispered : she was someone’s daughter;
he a wayward son, and they rewrote their story,
and there was one more lesson that he taught her :

Love is full of tears and war is gory,
and if they’d told the truth, they would be sorry.


Today’s LittleNip:


down the trees
forcing back
the tight shadows
and finding,
under the blanket-leaves
left by the sparrows,
huddled in their tiny prayers,
the lost children.

—Joyce Odam


Thank you, Joyce Odam, for your fine poems and photos today as we sail into July! No storms, little heat, lots of poetry: life in our area is good right now. We are very lucky.

Our new Seed of the Week is “Remembering July 4”. I remember going to the old State Fair and watching the fireworks. I was always afraid sparks would fall on me and set me on fire. Other families had BBQs, fireworks at home, etc. I always find, though, that people in our area love to write about the old, so atmospheric, State Fair; so, steal my idea if you’d like. (Photos, too!) 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.

Alan Lowe of Lincoln writes that the 2019 Voices of Lincoln Contest deadline is July 20. For information and registration forms, go to www.lincolnca.gov/Home/Components/News/News/2506/2267?backlist=%2fcity-hall%2fdepartments-divisions%2flibrary/.

Tonight from 5-7pm, Poetry Off-the-Shelves read-around in El Dorado Hills takes place at the EDH Library. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 —Anonymous Photo

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