Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sarsaparilla and Vanilla Cremes

Armstrong Woods
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

(with two lines from "The Round" by Stanley Kunitz)
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

Light splashed this morning
and melted all over the floor,
spreading into the darkest corners,
and the room glowed.
Shimmering fish of light
swam the walls
and mermaids sang in the shining.

So I closed the doors of my house
and I swam in the light
with the fish and the mermaids,
and I melted into the glowing.
I sang the praise of summer,
and the August lion
swam to my side and purred. 

(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine, 2005)


—Joyce Odam

They are really quite pretty
and awfully young
but seem fidgety
and dissatisfied.

They talk to each other
in the shadows
but their eyes search the cars.

The houses behind them
are dark
and blending huge
against the night;
doorways are ominous,
seeming to
contain life.

Love is looming somewhere
in the sex-heavy hour.
The whole street is nervous
and busy with something it wants.

The cops are not there
as the paper has lied,
only the slow hunter cars
with their left windows open
and husbands inside,
as true as the marriage
and its temporary wife.

And all of this
is in summer
with the bars closing down
and the eloquent lust
moving in and out of
the womanly night.

(first pub. in EPOS, 1972)


—Joyce Odam

night, you said
after having slept twice,
your sleep
and my sleep

and now this rising from night, the clock
on twos, my reading light on . . . you
walk from your room . . . you return to it.

Two closed doors.
My book.
The clock on twos.
You saying

(first pub. in Nanny Fanny, 2002)


—Joyce Odam

A man lurks in the shadows. Every time
another girl goes by, he whispers
instructions, tells her which way is safe.

She cannot make out his features. She
imagines his touch on her arm—his eyes—
she does not know whether to believe him.

But he is so urgent—so sincere—yet stays
hidden. She looks down the street, the long
flat wall, the few doorways, lit by a wet moon.

The rain has started again and she does not
know how she got here. A wrong turn. Another
time. She does not know her name—though

the man calls her by her name—says he
loves her, wants her to remember him when
she awakens in the morning—in the strange
room—tells her where he has hidden the key.


—Joyce Odam

This cat that guards my door,
this bronze,
silent, elegant cat

that gleams in the structuring light
of the doorway
and seems to like its chore—

to hold the door open
from the summer wind
that likes to pull doors shut

where it gets to stare out
at all the noisy, moving things;
and in winter, it helps

hold the stubborn door closed—
and simply looks good sitting there:
The Important Guardian of Doors.


—Joyce Odam

Angel, bless my door through which no one comes
and goes; it is a frozen door, braced shut, useless
by a useless lock and a frame that settles. The
whole house ignores it. Once closed, it stays closed.
Once opened, it stays open to enjoy the view.

Some things are much too difficult to
handle—the way the wind tends to blow
it open if I don’t keep something heavy
for it to weight against. The way I can’t
depend on it alone.

It’s never worked right for long—a mystery
doors keep to themselves. See, I have given
this door-angel to alleviate our difference.
Some doors are not meant to be used as doors,
but only as emergency exits, or fears with bars.


—Joyce Odam

I release the bird into the dream
where it flies into a dissolving wall
made of thick white curtains—

where it flies into a dissolving wall
made of light that flattens as it spreads,
becoming a sky the bird can remember,

made of light that flattens as it spreads
where the bird will remember what I tell it:
“the dream is never real...”

where the bird will remember what I tell it:
“the solution of light is always dark…
there is a dissolving sea of night to cross.”

The solution of light is always dark.
The dissolving image becomes the reality.
The bird returns on its own.


The dream is never real;
there is a dissolving sea of night to cross,
becoming a sky the bird can remember
made of thick white curtains.
The bird returns on its own.


Thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems, and thanks to Cynthia Linville and Annie Menebroker for our photos, both of which were taken on the road (Annie went to Yerington, NV last weekend). Joyce's final poem here, "Emissary", is an example of a tartoum. See the "Forms to Fiddle With" section of the green b-board for more about tartoums, the cousin of the pantoum.

Thanks also to Michael Cluff for Today's LittleNip, our Seed of the Week which he has suggested: The End of Summer Dreams. Joyce began today's post with a nod to August (by the way, she is an "August Lion", having her birthday in August), but Labor Day is upon us, and summer is wending its way down the tubes. (I kind of miss having the State Fair be the end of summer, but times change...) Anyway, send your farewells to summer dreams to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs, though. Maybe your Meee-yooz would rather write about some SOW from the past; see Calliope's Closet under the Snake on a Rod on the b-board for all our previous ones.

And we have a new "album" on Medusa's Facebook page, thanks to Michelle Kunert who sent us photos from Sac. Poetry Center's Amnesty International reading last night. Check it out!

Today's LittleNip: 

—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA

The end of summer dreams
sarsaparilla and vanilla cremes
a stroll along the foggy beach
the rest of life within your reach.

A nap upon a raft in a soft lake
enjoy the view of rusty hoe and rake
dance in the lingering dusk
enjoy the air's heady musk.

The sparkle and bite need not go away
just store them up for a dour day
the rest of your hours will then be ripe
in the light of the soul's positive stripe.



Breakaheart Road
—Photo by Annie Menebroker, Sacramento