Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Black Lace, Veiled Shadow

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


this morning the crow, with its cold gray voice, cawed

and cawed until the second crow came to the bare pear
tree, and perched—and the first crow cawed some more,

until the third crow came, and the cawing stopped—and
there they balanced, nervously, a monochrome of winter,
three crows, passing the ornate silence back and forth



(This has nothing to do with the sonnet of
blackberry eating—the old thrill of sunlight
on the passion of berries :
the taste,
like something forbidden,
the stain on the mouth,
the hands,
the clothing,
the child who will live
because of blackberries, wild and wonderful.)

When I lie, I lie deeply :

This is about blackberries—
where they grow,
and what they know,
though I question this.
We are here for each other,
rare as life,
with its seasons, and completions,
and beginnings—meaning what it means,
since we need meaning
and offer it when needed— 
and after blackberries, why we hunger so.



In the birdcage of death
the bird sits preening its flightless wing
it does not feed and
it does not look in the little mirror

sometimes it sings its sudden song
and the whole air shatters
when it stops the bars twang still
and the bird looks out of its sharpened eye

sunbeams drift through it from the window
its feathers gleam
it clenches its feet in a little dance
and a voice from somewhere says: pretty, pretty.

 Follow Me

After “Flapper Girl” by Alexis Rotella

Her black lips pout.
Her black eyes sorrow.
Time is too sweet for tomorrow.
Yesterday is dear, but gone.

Whatever she wants
is in the now of seeing;
whatever she wants or needs
is through the glass distance
of sweet and bitter time
that memory is freeing.

Her eyes
won’t say.
Her mouth
won’t speak.
Time is a long day
without a morning or night.

Take her back—take her back now
to the shadows, she is but a painting.
Her black lips pout, her black eyes sorrow.


After The Black Marble Clock
(ca. 1869-70) by Paul Cézanne

The clock has numbers
but no hands,
so time is unimportant.
Light is bigger than the dark,
the trappings heavy.
What’s there is there, useful to depict.

Nothing breaks: the cup that teeters
at the edge,
the vase,
the shell,
the folds of cloth
that rumple to the floor.

The future is crowded into a lifetime,
the gold light thick and heavy,
layered to oblit the background
crowding forward,
past the clock—
the silence that is caught.

Everything is stalled,
the future given
everything it needs
from symbols of the past,
everything meticulously layered—
the subtle layers built to permanence.



Oh for the glow of revelation to the
frustration of those who try too hard
to comprehend—who need solution
to their dilemma, though explanation
falls apart, at once, and reasoning
is too muddy for dire situations,
with all its empty promise
in return,

if only . . . .

If only, though,
does not fit the power
of the withholders who pacify—
who preach and speak in beautiful
confusion, who would rather put their
pretty shells in your letter box, or leave
their glossy literature on doorknobs—or
slide furtive notes under the door that say
they really care for you…

 Let It Rain


Once there were holes in cards
to be read as words—
A through Z—

And numbers—One through Zero.
Machines read them, quickly and magically.
I typed the holes, learned to read the words.

But, reading the cards was not
an exciting job, nor an occupation.
My life was outside of this—

out of the working hours.
And after this job another.
Typing. Always typing.

Outside of this I wrote poems—
songs I would sing to myself.
I was glad I could type.

Then, I bought
an electric typewriter,
used it for years—then a computer,

so complicated, so mysterious.
But I learned to use it.
I still type.    Poems.    I’ve come so far.


Today’s LittleNip:

This black heart

around my neck
that has no bone,

only sorrow, only
muscle that contracts—

reacts and quits—
like a broken necklace.

—Joyce Odam


Joyce Odam has gone to black for her take on our current Seed of the Week, Black Holes, and we thank her for her fine poems and photos! “The birdcage of death”… !

In that light, our new Seed of the Week is Cages. 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.

—Medusa, still thinking about the birdcage of death ~

"Three Black Crows in a Bare Pear Tree" 
—Anonymous Photo

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.