Friday, June 04, 2010

The Small Boat-Child Within

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

(after a drawing by Wayne Hogan)

Bird above boat. Boat above trees.
Diagonal light equating sunset.

Moon-shadow suffers explication.
Flowers burn in the moonlight.

Bird pecks at stars which are invisible.
Boat-shadow lures fish to the surface.

Trees bend in the same direction
as the breeze that caresses toward night.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Friday (6/4), 7-10pm:
Youth Speaks poetry reading (under-21 open mic) at Sol Collective (, 2574 21st St., Sacramento. $5 donation.

•••Sat. (6/5), 12-8pm and Sun. (6/6), 12-5pm: Join the arts organizations and artists of the R25 Complex (25th & R Sts., Sacramento) as they join together to host the first-ever R25 Crossroads for Arts and Culture Festival. Free admission for everyone. Bring the family! Children will enjoy puppet shows by El Teatro Espejo on Saturday and Sunday. Art lovers may bid on artwork at Sunday's art auction. Poets will read Saturday and Sunday, including Bob Stanley, Sandra Senne, Paco Marquez, Kelly Matthews and Kate Asche. On Saturday, music lovers can listen and dance to the sounds of the Christian Dewild Band, Marty Cohen and Sidekicks, and The Streamliners; more music to be enjoyed on Sunday with James Israel Band, Aisle 99, and Puzzletree. On Saturday, Bill Trainor and Children's Network will also present. Vendor booths will offer art, crafts, and food. Open house and opportunities to meet the artists and find out more about the following organzations: Artists Studios, California Stage, Ed Claudio's Actors Workshop of Sacramento, Three Penny Theater, Alliance Francaise de Sacramento, MatrixArts & the PopUp Gallery, On Stage, Sacramento Poetry Center, Wilkerson Theater. Info: Ray Tatar (916-600-9536, or Joy Gee (916-370-5628, or go to Medusa's b-bd and click the pic.

•••Sat. (6/5), 3-5pm: Bay Area Poets Coalition ( presents an Open Poetry Reading at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St., Berkeley (Addison is one block south of and parallel to University Ave., between Acton & Bonar St. Please park on the street, NOT in the S.C.L. parking lot). Reading will be held in the 4th floor movie room (or back yard/garden); upon arrival, please check in at the front desk. All ages welcome to come and enjoy a friendly and informal read-around; 3-5 minutes per poet/reader, or "just listening" is fine, too.

•••Sat. (6/5), 1-6pm: The 8th Annual Berkeley Poetry Festival, corner of Telegraph Ave. & Haste St. Jack Foley to receive lifetime achievement award. Limited number of spaces for the open mic (arrive before 12:30pm, drawing at 12:30). For details:

•••Sun. (6/6), 4-6pm: The Book Collector (1414 16th St., Sacramento) presents an afternoon of poetry celebrating Peter Ludwin’s new book, A Guest in All Your Houses, with Peter Ludwin and William O’Daly. Free. Light refreshments. Info: 916.442.9295 or Click/pic on the b-bd for more.

•••Sun. (6/6), 2-4pm: Poetry Rocks in Many Languages at Century House, 2401 Santa Rita Rd., Pleasanton. Come for readings of poems in Italian, Spanish and French with translations. Pleasanton's Liz Fortini will host and read poems she has written in Italian with translation; Award-winning Ukiah poet Jabez Churchill will read in Spanish, & Ronnie Holland, Poet Laureate of Dublin, will read her poems written in French with translations and those of French-speaking poets she has studied. For reasons why language is important, check out Ruiyan Xu's NY Times’ recent op-ed: "Each of the thousands of languages spoken around the world has its own system and rules, its own subversions, its own quixotic beauty." (

After light refreshments, an Open Mic will be held. The public is invited to read a poem up to 40 lines (one page or less) in a Western European language and read their translation or read a poem they’ve written in English. Contact Deborah Grossman for any questions:

•••Mon. (6/7), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Catie Rosemurgy and Martha Ann Blackman at R25, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento. Catie Rosemurgy is the author of the poetry collections, The Stranger Manual and My Favorite Apocalypse, both from Graywolf Press. Her work has appeared in the American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Best American Poetry. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and teaches at The College of New Jersey.

Martha Ann Blackman has been writing poetry since the '70's. She co-edited a number of poetry collections, including Watching From the Sky (co-editor, Ann Menebroker). She has had poems published in numerous collections, most recently in Rattlesnake Review, Medusa's Kitchen, and Poems-For-All. She has performed (poetry/songs) at numerous UCD Whole Earth Festivals, Earth Day Events at Marin County and the State Capitol, Friends of the River Events, KVMR Radio (Nevada City), KVIE-6, and KXTV-10. She was also an "Artist in the Schools" through the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, where she worked with young students on Earth-friendly poetry and projects.

(for a more complete listing of NorCal poetry events and workshops, go to


—Janet Pantoja, Woodinville, WA

to adults
and yet . . .
the child lives on
inside each one of us
this child cries out
when in anguish
for its Mother
for its Father
for comfort
for advice
for a hug
for Love


—Joyce Odam

All night the sound of water, heavy as
dreams—the sky lapping overhead like
a black window—the night, a wet creaking,

and I am being whirled in a small whirl-pool
of gentle dizziness; my balancing hands
are cold; I bump against a shore

where I can grab into long grasses
and fasten myself into place among
the gnarled roots of ancient trees.

I am a small boat-child, drifting upon
this poem, and over a thin distance,
voices are laughing. I remember

who they are, but I am very sleepy.
I stay where I am, in the comfort of rocking
and curl into my comfortable position

in this borrowed boat on this small stream.
The boat is just my size;
it alters to accommodate my movement;

it breathes under me
like a bed I have slept in all my life;
there are hands underneath it in the water,

holding me up.
all night I hear the lullaby-sound
of sleep-wind blowing softly on the water.


—Joyce Odam

Snow falls amid the plight of crows who are
on a tethered boat that rocks itself
almost under.

They hold to positions of some uncertainty—
in curious
stance—using the motion to test
the balance of winter.

Why can’t they fly? Is the sky too heavy with
Do they think they can ride the winter
out under the
wet weight of such a sky?

Fly, crows, fly—the whole world is sinking—
your attention—send your voices out
like warnings.

But the crows are fascinated by the shudder-
feel of
the sloshing water, the sound that it
makes in the filling
air, the creak and shudder,

shudder and creak, of the straining boat, the
way they balance their feet on the rim
of the boat that is
up to its rim on the water.

And they are held by this. And the snow builds
them. And the cold grows colder. And
they wait—too
long, perhaps,

to be anything more than this bleak, engulfing
study of
silent crows on a rocking boat that is
filling with snow.


—Joyce Odam

(after The Studio Boat, 1876, Claude Monet)

oh, to float
in a green boat
above green reflection

on a green day among
green trees in the soft green
warmth of the filtered sun

to be the one
who can capture this
though time is gone

from the echoless calm
of the glade’s green sound
that murmurs in and around

the lazy drift of the small green boat
on the rippled calm
as if time is meant to be spent this way


Today's LittleNip:

The darling mispronunciations of childhood!—dear me, there's no music that can touch it; and how one grieves when it wastes away and dissolves into correctness, knowing it will never visit his bereaved ear again.

—Mark Twain, from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court


—Medusa (with thanks to today's contributors, including Carl Schwartz for Today's LittleNip)

Photo by Katy Brown