Monday, January 31, 2011

Set Fire To Words

The Nightingale
—Illustration by Edmund Dulac

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

It’s the way you treat light—
as if you owned all its properties,
you the magnet for its releasements.

You own the word: Light,
you who own the darkness, too.
You make light find you.

You rim the dark with light,
trying one against the other—as if
you could both blend and separate.

You make form out of nothing.
Will surrendered to Art:
Dark. Light.


Thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s If-I-Could-Write-a-Poem poems, and my apologies to Sandy Thomas for not being credited for last Saturday’s LittleNip. And thanks to Trina Drotar for so tactfully pointing it out, and for this week's Poetry Trap. Trina's new littlesnake broadside from Rattlesnake Press is available at The Book Collector.

Don’t forget to watch the ever-changing b-board (at the right of this) for all the po-news that’s fit to post—I've been moving the furniture around again. Right now we have links to the new issue of Poetry Now, to the fine article about Elsie Feliz that appeared in the Sacramento Bee last week, to an interview with Six Ft. Swells Editor Todd Cirillo, to a 2011 Poetry Calendar—and, as usual, local events that are taking place this week. And that’s just the beginning! Keep scrolling down for more and more links, photos, and other fun stuff—plus readings that are more than a week away, as well as SPC’s own column and various SPC happenings that are coming up. I know—it’s a lot to take in—and that’s because there’s so much po-business happening in our area!

You also need to be familiar with our SNAKE ON A ROD—now in a new location in the skinny GREEN box—and all the entryways he provides to workshops, weekly readings, and Calliope’s Kitchen—a place to hang out until the Muse strikes.

And I could use some tips about online poetry journals that you like for our new "Submission Tip of the Week" section. Don't be shy about telling us where you're being published, and which journals you like. Let us in on your secrets!


—Joyce Odam

Choose me,
said the word—pristine and new,

as a possibility for remorse, or even
love—such a word,

translucent and shimmering,
one I could see through,

clear to the other side of meaning:
Oh, word, I cried,

(for this was a word one could cry to)
Oh, just-right word,

how I want you in my poem—
the way you shimmer there

at the edge of my thought, willing . . .
but something streamed between us

and the word was gone—
gone in a pulse of light, like a flicker

of one tremble to the next—something
not quick enough to capture.


—Joyce Odam

It is how you repeat sad phrases to me
in your soft voice that diminishes . . .
If only you could give me music
I might hear . . .
Had you died, I would grieve, but silence
is only silence, as death is death . . .
Your body moved in a quiet dance—
a slow wreathe to the music I could not hear . . .
How clever, the music, to escort you
into somewhere unreachable . . .
You turned away into yourself.
Not a shadow, not a mirror followed this . . .
I pulled from myself what I knew of you,
all your spells and confusions . . .
When you returned, it was with nothing you
remembered. I wept and named you love.



seems to hurry this night—
as if the night needed a new dreamer,

as if hurry could provide what sleep
resists—such a night as this one—

earthbound souls in the wailing air
of nothing there—only the wish. 

—Joyce Odam


—Joyce Odam

I talk again to old blue stones
that don’t respond, but shift and stare
from their blue depth, deflecting light
as secretive as what I write—
with all the meanings hidden where
nothing betrays… nothing atones…


—Joyce Odam

I wanted to
write you a poem,
but all I could say
was love.
I celebrate you.

I wanted to say
happy birthday
in a special way,
but all I could
think of was
you are
a happiness to me.
And I celebrate you.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

If I could write a Stave of Six—
honor the form with fitting words,
like matchsticks held to candle wicks,
illuminate the inner urge . . .
what poet would not want it so:
set fire to words and watch them glow.



Off to Sea
—Illustration by Edmund Dulac