—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
—Photos by Joyce Odam
You have come with your gift of black roses
for my midnight joy. Now the house
is full of flowers that die after all,
no matter how I loved them.
All of my rooms are thick with their dying
and I am sad now. Flowers cannot
heal me, yet you keep bringing
these impossible black roses.
(prev. pub. in My Best Regret, Mini-Chap, 2008)
THE AURA OF DARKNESS
"Bird in silhouette against flare of light"
—Photo by James Ballard as seen in
Reflections On a Gift of Watermelon Pickle
O bird, in bird outline
O bird, in bird silhouette
O bird, in stark relief—
that old thieved line
Around you, a rim of flared light
Behind you, a swirl of energy
Inside of you, the dark threat
Unreal or real, what
has decided you?
Sharp beak and quiet eye—at rest,
what has arrested you?
…against swirl of energy
…all light has suppressed in you
…self darkened to mere silhouette
A shadow-child might see you
and think you tame.
A shadow-world might free you
and release your name.
And I might rearrange the gathered
instance of you to exclaim :
…reality is not true
…imagination has its own view
…no shape of fear is darker than you
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 6/15/21; 8/31/21;
—Robin Gale Odam
iced coffee, a piece of empty paper
a candle flickers the dark morning,
little starvings—feeding the options
i saw the seabird in the sky above
the intersection—as in a pencil sketch,
there was only one
ANOTHER STRANGE CONFRONTATION :
an old woman in white crossing the road, all night—to the rural mailbox to check for mail—her lost brilliance of mind but a reflection now in the occasional headlights that pick her out of the ghostly darkness, giving the driver a fright—but not her—so intent on her one errand. Somewhere her history rewinds itself like a book she might write, that might be scholarly, or surreal. What letter does she need to reclaim herself—the road too wide for her slowness—her frailty no match for the oncoming car that might drive through her, a disheveled presence escaped from a dream, or from the mesmerized attention of the driver.
THE EMPTY CORRIDOR
After Les Derniers Secrets by Claude Lazar
How the light follows the line of the hallway in a
long perspective; how it widens past the three open
doors, each room with no occupant; how time is
not the meaning here, or the consideration.
It is the green tone of silence, the meticulous gold
shine on the floor and walls, the darkness that
blends. It is the curiosity. If the three doors close,
where will the light go?
The photograph on the left wall is the only clue,
but it is hidden, seen only at an angle. The open
rooms swallow the pale defining light from the hall.
The immaculate floor swallows the dust. The ceil-
ings press and expand, as if breathing.
The photograph tries to remember—tries to re-
gather this is a new place, and it is of the old. What
does it know of now? Now is myth.
The dim hallway is content with its soft ambience.
The green tone of silence deepens as it turns the
hour from one tenor to another.
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2/20/18; 8/23/22)
IN CROSS-HATCH DARKNESS
Here is a man in a scratched-out opening,
a stick figure only—but there,
in a clump of despair. How is it
he has affected me so?
I care for him—
trapped in the crosshatch darkness.
I want the artist to release him—
captive to misery—unable
to back-out of the opening
or step forward into a positive dimension.
What do I recognize in him?
Is it myself—did I do this—give him
this hopeless suffering—why do I
linger at this page—as if only I can free him?
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 4/15/14; 3/29/16)
HE TENDS THE DYING WOMAN
He tends the dying woman, gives her a name, gives
her a vision to hang on to the fraying thread that is
her life, medicates the space between, holds up a
mirror, then a curtain, touches her shadow as she
dies, a breaking smile between them as he closes
her eyes. He names her Helen, or Wife, or Myster-
ious Future-Being out of Grave-Fog, out of love’s
lost light. He names her perfect who never was
She ties him to her with a thread of painful light,
then a thread of darkness, weaving them intricately
and perfectly together until they knot. He sings into
himself, naming her name.
Eve, Eve, he sings, then weeps in a dry place which
he names silence, silence for her name to him, for
her importance to his effort. He never knew he was
so full of her life that she lays before him now like
an entrance. He fills his hands with hers but they
do not fit; they marvel away into her numbed sen-
sation, which is so real he cannot enter it.
—Robin Gale Odam
The night summons me in the
amity of darkness—I breathe a
question into this peregrine
complexity of time: “What is it
like when I cross your mind?”
deep is collective
whenever I look for you
one more memory
(prev. pub. in Brevities, 1/17)
TO SAY MY DARKNESS
I come with a heavy word now
for your lonely mouth
the kiss is heavy too
and made of weariness
each gift is broken first
to give you perfect sadness
I put my hand across your eyes
to say my darkness
I lay my fever
underneath your touch
I cry gray laughter
for your ashen echo
I bring you everything I am
and call it love
(prev. pub. in Oregonian [Newspaper], 11/12/72 and
then from deep of night
hunter’s moon with jupiter
red leaves on the ground
—Robin Gale Odam
Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam have taken our Seed of the Week: Out of the Darkness to new heights (depths?) suitable for Halloween and for Día de los Muertos, and many thanks to them and to Joyce for today’s photos! Our new Seed of the Week is “Where Am I Going?” Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to email@example.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. And see every Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry form challenges, including those of the Ekphrastic type.
And don’t let your own ghosts spring Out of the Darkness and getcha…
Northern California and otherwheres,
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
in the links at the top of this page.
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.
Find previous four-or-so posts by scrolling down
under today; or there's an "Older Posts" button
at the bottom of this column; or find previous poets
by typing the name of the poet or poem
into the little beige box at the top
left-hand side of today’s post; or go to
Medusa’s Rapsheet at the bottom of
the blue column at the right
to find the date you want.
Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
firstname.lastname@example.org. We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
(A cookie from the Kitchen for today):
what if . . .