Tuesday, January 02, 2024

The Honesty of Mirrors

 Not a Tear
—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
Sacramento, CA
—Photos and Original Art by Joyce Odam
—Joyce Odam

There is a tear in the world that fits you—
like a mind-rip made of cynical regret

that you stir like bitter coffee, as though you
forgot the sugar, or refused the sweetness.

Some days you like the gray air that
surrounds you. You linger against the tide

of going through it—turning cold where
every gray thought gets through, and nothing

gets sewn back together. Life is raw
today. The tear widens and you must not

add to the tearing which is bloodless.
You accept the wound as you always do

as part of its condition—and you shudder
like a knife-rip that goes through you.


—Robin Gale Odam

In the catacombs of war,
underneath the steel mill,
children sing.

(prev. pub. in Brevities, March/April 2022) 

—Joyce Odam
After Blind Time (Grief),
Painting by Robert Morris, 1973

Iris—opening to a shatter of light
through a tangle of eyelashes
and disbelief—blinking to be sure

this is what it sees—
this pattern upon whiteness.
Where has everything gone;

what power of anesthesia is it
struggling through—or is it only
something caught in the eye:

cobweb of time,
failure to translate,
distortion of normalcy—

what flares
for a reeling moment—
how real is this?
 Every Gray Thought

—Joyce Odam
Der Philosoph by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

He hides in his thoughts; you can find him
among his concealments :
maze of meaning, swirl of sensation,
tangle of question—imagination’s texture—

in symbol : fox heads and blue worms,
endless roots that touch and recoil,
darkness that ends and begins again,
one eye that stays open to see;

his mouth that does not speak.
His ear listens and sends messages
to his head—his profile
a kaleidoscopic swarm of his thinking,

complexity of thought
disappearing into blank stare—
further disappearance beyond his will,
caught in his own web—

color melting around and through him
until he is a collage of memory and
forgetfulness—at odds with beginning
and completion—all part of some emergence.


—Robin Gale Odam

Contrary to the semicolon;
two indeterminate clauses linked.

Daytime hours given as offerings;
duties in the ruse of mask and costume.

Sidelong gateways and slopes; alliance
of falling and soaring.

Ticking seconds even into night;
atonement for solitude.

Tea leaves; a notepad.

(prev. pub. in Brevities, April 2020)

—Joyce Odam
Dettaglio 1875 by Wm.-Adolphe Bouguereau

Her eye, her earring, the silken drape of her scarf,
her blue dress buttoned at the shoulder...
her unbidden blush of skin.

Her eye is following your perusal—
does not blink—does not tear,
her eye is a judgment and a question.

She peers through the corner of the curtain.
Her earring brushes her scarf and makes
a small tinkle of movement.

She is the epithet of Beauty,
with no other reason but this—no other
purpose but this. Her artist loves her.

Her eye is both haughty and pleading—
never to be worthy for anything
beyond this. Dare she grow old...?

Dare she love another...?
Dare she lose the intensity of her look...?  
Her eye darkens at the conjecture.  

Her eye possesses your eye—accepts the
vanity that is given her—forbids your look—
does not question past your curiosity.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 12/5/17


—Joyce Odam
Dettaglio 1875 by Wm.-Adolphe Bouguereau

That which you wear
is an apology for what is not perfect.
The eye is a sore judge of beauty.

Come forth through the shadows
that swarm for you. They will let you be,
and you will be beautiful.

What touches you now and makes you cry?
It is the spy for mother.
You are not who you thought you were.

Reach into the reaching place.
How deep it is.
What is there that you want, or need?

You had an image in mind—
it held more for your touch.
The touch is too tender to bear.

Last night in your dream you wrote a saga.
It was only one paragraph long—a very long
paragraph with no punctuation.

You were out of breath,
and when you woke up
hard to read pages fluttered all over the place.


—Robin Gale Odam
After The Goldfish,
Painting by Charles Courtney Curran, 1911

—your voice as from the waters, as from all the
tears in the welling of tears

—the fish would circle in the opaque water, in the
bowl at the balance of balance, at the fragile lift of
balance, atop the tall and precarious stand, cast in
the perilous curve of iron

—and I transparent, staring from beneath my
lashes at the fine kerchief in your breast pocket,
as if all the tears in the welling were welling and
cresting at the lid

—the salt would evaporate to crystal and fall
to the floor, if you should ask me to dance 
 To Love   

—Joyce Odam

What is fact except for someone’s pondering
on proof that is personally conceived.

It is always true to the prover—

Even the first and last lie
of everything at doubt.

When so much truth is hammering—

Even that much of the heart’s delirium
that is meant to sway the defiance of others

Who are all at odds—

Especially the ones who love or cannot love
because of self-destruction. Why does this matter?

Even the question mark does not trust an answer.
Where Has Everything Gone

—Joyce Odam

infant’s mouth
—wide open in
raw howl, in debris,
in awareness of life—
of hunger,  of loss,  of fear—
everything shattered around him:
poor broken world, offering its last
living being—howling here in distress . . .

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 8/20/19) 
Dare To Grow Old

—Joyce Odam

It is as possible as myth, this floating mountain
that makes its own shadow solidify, dreamt by a
faithful dreamer at the edge of waking with fail-
ure to recall the dream, awakened now. Not that
any mountain is less or more real than this one,
but the fading shadow of the memory dreamed,
the panic of losing time, or a thought, or flicker
of dream that is not dreamed, but real.

                              Here is where the text loses
the thin line of its own belief. Words speak—are
heard—inward, where words flow, and form, and
abort. The birth of time is at odds with a mind
that creates through oblivion—that line of dark-
ness that struggles toward light. This is a tunnel,
traveled-on, where the mountain shimmers at the
opening of a mirror lapping quietly at the shoreline
that is your life.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam       

deep pool eyes of
eloquent expression
—the eyes stay level
holding us accountable
innocent as the purity in the eyes
of babes or the honesty of mirrors

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 5/25/21)


The fresh eyes of poets Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam are carrying us into the new year with their fine poetry and photos, and we thank them for that! “Fresh Eyes” was our most recent Seed of the Week; be sure to check every Tuesday for a new SOW. This week it’s “Matrimony”. 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.


The Goldfish
—Painting by Charles Courtney Curran, 1911

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