Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Surreal As Always

 Surreal As Always
* * *

—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
Sacramento, CA
—Photos by Joyce Odam 

—Joyce Odam

I was walking on the water being a common woman
afraid of drowning, and just under the water,
holding me up from it, was an
invisible organ—
the tide
the music
of the tide,
great sighing
water music—
I, standing, sea-
breathing, was not
afraid, the swimmers
around me laughing in
their summer, seemed un-
aware—only I, on its great endless
size without edges, knew the organ was there . . .


—Joyce Odam
L’Art Céleste, Lithograph by Odilon Redon

how he can hear
music with his mind . . .

how he bends his head
forward and closes his eyes . . .

how the tiny doll of music
hovers its wings and plays its violin . . .

how the very skies surround
and hold the music to a page of hearing . . .


—Robin Gale Odam

alone on this page
i wrote to ask if you

still have your violin—
i really wanted to ask if you

still have your violence
you said yes

i think i knew already
you stuck in the third line

and the other lines continued
on another page

it’s all so effed up i can’t even
imagine what the hell it’s all for

every other word stuck in what
should be a dream

but it never was
shut up shut up

shut up shut up
shut up

mockingbird so joyful
tiny black hummingbird
painting on music
falling through
shadows and
 Wake Easy

—Joyce Odam

I am just the rain, come to waken you from
your dry-eyed dreaming. Wake easy. I am at
your window—streaming like summer tears,
erasing the grime that time likes to leave.
Look how I shine as you peer through—our
transparent reflection in mirrored rivulets
between. If you wonder why I am so familiar—
why you love me—let me lure you outside.
Leave your umbrella. Let it be as it was the
first time we walked together—all wet and
glistening—in mutual happiness. 
 Something About An Old Memory

—Joyce Odam

…ah, here is someone to love,
someone playing a piano
out in the rain
in the way of
a wide sunbeam
claiming the music
and the one listener . . .
…here is only the sad memory of
a stranger who has wandered
into this scenario,
to whom
love is not given,
only taken from the wild
reverberations of the music . . .
…and here is someone
looking out a window
at the piano which is ruined
by the music of the rain and the
encompassing sunbeam that takes
these pictures—these words—
and blends them into this rain-story
and makes the window glass shimmer . . .
 The Vanishing Sky

—Joyce Odam

Out of the harsh landscape comes the lone shadow,
out of the gray stone,
out of the gray hour—the vanishing sky—

the bodiless shadow, so lost there is no place for it,
only this desolation, this astounding wilderness—
no creature or vegetation, no line of horizon

or relief of water—nothing here but the slow shadow,
displaced from its life, or its dream, or only created
for the duration of this poem.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 8/2/16)
 A Light in the Dark

—Joyce Odam

You are the one I almost love.
How will I hold you now,
my arms are cold and distant;
I wear an old song in my mouth.

You are coming toward me in warm light.
You are carrying a rose,
oh, you are carrying a rose.
I reach out into the emptiness between us.

You are walking through me
in the warm light. It is the mirror.
It is the mirror between us.
I am on both sides. You are on neither.

It is the false light that hinders everywhere.
It shifts and loses us too easily.
It cannot hold.
No wonder I cannot find you.

Now you are sitting in a circle,
your own reflection, a new-formed sea,
surreal as always,
I move toward you,

but there is no substance of reality,
you cannot hear me or see me.
I am under water,
deeply breathing.


—Joyce Odam

The words flew into each other—love
and love—on their white identical wings;

as image into startled glass.
Amour, said one;  

Amour, said the other
in the transparency of

glass / water / air

through which they met—
possessing each other

in a terrible collision—
the beautiful birds of language,

becoming one,
even as they broke through each other.

In a Transparency

—Joyce Odam

What is harmony if not
distortion, for what it’s worth :

the gasp—the turning away—
the refusal

(to love)
the aversion (to judge).

How can we open the hat
without a rabbit?

someone says,
and laughs,

and that would be that but for
the intensity of recognition

that knows
art is never for the blind.


—Joyce Odam

I do not yet know enough about the things I love :
the way of shadow—the grace of light—play
against play—question against answer.

I strive to be what I love,
but am a self at peril—a fool at tears.  
Weeping is not enough.

I must become more to become enough.
No lesson is unlearned :
the thrashed, the torn—the almost drowned.

The flood of meaning is harsh—
my wants excessive—my needs too few.
I over-ride what I should hold innocent of me.

I live in my own world and do not understand
how it is different
from the sureness of others.

What hope is there
for those at the edge where everything falls away
except intention.
In My Own World

—Robin Gale Odam

Interval from then to eos—the simple
comma, followed by aurora.

The mortality of a loved one—metaphor,
for the interval.

So now the day was new, an imitation of

Tonight will be long—the vex of solitude,
in comfort of darkness.

It could be a dream—or a poem—or the
tapping of a telegram. Stop.

(prev. pub. in Brevities, October 2019
    “The Long-Awaited Issue: Then to Now”)


Today’s LittleNip:

 —Robin Gale Odam

ghost light of evening
dark bird takes the night
one forgotten dream

(prev. pub. in B
revities, August 2020)


The Odams have sent us dreamy poems and photos today in response to our Seed of the Week: Dreamscape, and we are grateful for their expertise on the subject! Our new Seed of the Week is “A Peaceful Place”—countryside, heart of the city, the mind of meditation—tell us about a place of peace. (We especially need it these days.) 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. And see every Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry form challenges, including those of the Ekphrastic type.


 L’Art Céleste
—Lithograph by Odilon Redon, 1894

For upcoming poetry happenings in
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