Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Let The Hand Withdraw From Knowing

Edge of Waiting
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


The conversations blur into each other.
It’s good to be among people.
People are lonely.
They talk through each other.
They don’t have anything to say.
The window sunlight streams.
The light plays with the dust.
Color deepens at the edges.
The door disappears.
Nothing takes its place.
The light teems.
The juke box runs out of money.
Daylight wanders across the floor.
No one leaves.
They are here to share their isolation.
Laughter is loudest at the point of tears.
The hours struggle toward farewell.

 Late Daylight


This haunted shore, at dusk,
everything turning blue,

that old spectre here again
in thinning light that shines

through his body.
But I no longer go through ghosts

that appear and disappear—
the sea behind them,

churning the years away,
sad as time that holds back

some old distance, some recall.
I would walk alone here,

my shore—my hour—
to be alone on this old beach—

all the promises turning to sand,
seaweed catching at my feet.

 Long Slow Days


“There is a community of the spirit. / Join it, and feel the delight / of walking in the noisy street, / and being the noise.”                                —Rumi

How infinite the consequence—how true—
how far the drift, alone in bright surroundings
with your thoughts and view—limitless,
and without sound and without shore :
where are the birds . . .
where is the sky . . .
and where
all that you thought you wanted,
all that you thought you knew . . . ?
It is like coming out of a spiral,
changed and erased of
all damage, making
one step forward
into a vast whiteness,
no memories impede—
you are the one made of
particles, as if you have yet to
become real and looking for the other—
the one you have dreamed—the one you love
without knowing love, the one you need for a mirror.



To note a scribble on a page
and deplore that scribble
as a spoilage of intention,
or accidental blemish—

or some perfection unexpectedly
as holy words are loved—
words you read as wisdom,

and then to ponder them as willful,
as defacement,
followed by
a second-thought reaction :

should you erase them,
leave them be,
white them out, if ink—
or trust as something learned,

a thought-barrier of interpretation,
the otherness of it—apart from you—
or sense the bemusement that you
might be the one who put them there.



It was a pale morning of love
that was neither love nor pale.
It was a virtual memory.

If we take the quiet to heart,
might we deserve it? We are such
a din, the many of us who complain,
then cry about the crying.

However we mean this is nothing
compared to the literal meaning
that swirls through the other effort
of trying to comprehend.

Savor this—this reactionary memory
of loneliness with its false perfection.
Oh, never mind that—it was as you want it.

 Streak of Light


Sensitive to light, you stare through
the crimson leaves and reddened flowers

on the window.  Your eyes refuse
to withdraw from the eyes

of your reflection.  You put your hand
to your mouth to taste the scent

at your fingertips.  On which side
of the glass do you exist? 

Your shoulders merge with the
crimson-lighted leaves—even the sky. 

You float within yourself
and all but disappear among the flowers.



We touch what is there with a certain
hesitation, as if it might break—the
hand go through—to some other world.

We crave sensation,
yet dare not learn of sharp, or sting.
We want the illusion.

Now soft winds sigh and rustle—
a shadow that disturbs and flattens—
makes a sound, I swear.

What is, is not.  Or never was.  But
what of real, we argue, and once more
let the hand withdraw from knowing.



Red sunset dribbles down a complicated skyline.
Dull gold shimmers where feeble sunlight
strokes walls of steep buildings
full of grand intentions.                      
Colors flatten
in deep shifting motions
and merge to a deepening
of spilled color
into a vertical maze
of human environment
where caught-up lives   
assume identities
yet stay estranged
from selves and others.
Here there are
rooms and hallways,
elevators and stairs,
numbered doors,
inside and outside windows.
A bridge suspends. Its vast cables sway.
Ways crowd in and out of complex timings.          
There is never a way back.
One-way lives seek their directions.
A multi-voiced howl can be heard in the teeming.
Oh, Look! how the small, indifferent birds fly over.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Travel this dark
that goes too wide
across the day
which is too long
which has
no other way
but through
and has
no other traveler
but you.

(first pub. in
Poetalk, 1995)


Many thanks and Happy Mother’s Day-to-come to Joyce Odam, who is writing about isolation, our recent Seed of the Week. Our new Seed of the Week is Mothering, For Better Or For Worse. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to 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.

James Lee Jobe writes: “I'm moving my weekly poetry reading from Facebook to It will be a video, and I’ll post it every Friday at 7:30 pm. This week: Poems of Spirit.”

For upcoming poetry readings and workshops available online while we stay at home, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.



Mothering, For Better Or For Worse
(in the time of coronavirus) 
—Public Domain Cartoon

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.