Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Like Some Child's Lost Balloon

Silk Tree in Wind
—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

These trees of white bend in the surrealistic
motions of their dance
where pale women

move in memory—their tethered forms
soul-caught against the

for now they dance
together—the women and the trees—
interchanging in the light which startles them.


—Joyce Odam

They say a tree of stone grows
on a wall. I’d like to see that—

touch its leaves and trunk—
find the reason for its stillness.

They say it blends against
the light-struck landscape of the wall.

They say its colors blaze in sunlight’s
window and contains them still

in moon’s soft light.
And does it suffer, or rejoice?

What cryptic mind could understood,
and then personify, a tree of stone?


(Unrhymed Villanelle)
—Joyce Odam

Walking outside to another caustic evening,
stifling edges of the night close in.
We and our shadows slowly lose importance.

The red moon climbs another smoky sky.
Is summer really over, we ask, derisive,
checking outdoors on another fire-scorched evening.

We smell the stubborn fires of a nearby county,
estimate the distance—sniff the air—
we and our shadows losing our importance

to the larger tragedies we try to fathom.
When do you think it will rain, we ask, wishing
for overdue relief on this fire-thick evening,

our house now a vague, dark shape behind us.
It’s cooling down a bit, we say, for comfort
as we and our shadows gradually lose importance.

Small breezes start to build. The hard day softens.
Let’s not go in just yet, we say, and shiver,
walking outside through another smoke-filled evening
where we and our shadows slowly lose importance.


—Joyce Odam

Love me, the moon is late tonight,
the moon is late in the sky
and the clouds are restless,
and it looks like rain
again, and October has passed us by,
and we are falling
into time
and time’s own shadow.

Love me,
the candles
are flickering on the sill
of waiting,
the candles are flickering down
and there is no time
to cry.
Let’s watch the waiting.


—Joyce Odam

Going as far as pity
they come to the torn place in the earth
look for the seed in the drop of water
see it there
look upward and give thanks.
They are religious now.
Fanatics with a cause.
They have taken
all the death and forgiven it.

At night they go out
on rituals of loneliness
and choose up sinners.
(They are not perfect.)
They are ragged from living
her old red dress
with sequined hem dragging
making sparks against the stones
he carrying the old weapons he used to use
left over from wars and murders
and self defenses.

Going as far as remorse
they tear at the earth with their fingers
dig up
the seed and the drop of water
to give to the ravenous bird
with the amputated wings.
And having done with it all again
they kneel
in the red moonlight.
Thank you for sorrow, they whisper.

(first pub. in Cellar Door, 1979)


—Joyce Odam

So what if I should write one sonnet more—
one further song of loss, or joy, or praise,
a trail of words to settle one more score
with one more message full of useless rage.

What reader wants what time cannot assuage,
nor I—not even I—still wont to pour
my sweet deliriums upon the page,
or old laments no one has pity for?

Life would be better served to just let go—
release it all like some child’s lost balloon
drifting away into an upward flow
the sky can use—become tonight’s red moon.

Well, here’s this sonnet—scribbled on and torn;
these culminated words, well-bled, well-worn.


Tomorrow is the 25th (can you believe it??) anniversary of Sac. Poetry Day; what more fitting way to spend it than by starting a day early with a Kitchen offering by Sac. Poetry Doyenne Joyce Odam, then by going to the new issue of Poetry Now at www.issuu.com/poetrynowpresents/docs/year_end_2011 (wow! quite a change—and so lovely, Trina, for your final issue!). Then tomorrow it's off to hear Trina Drotar and Sandy Thomas read at Cosumnes River College, followed by a ‘way cool evening at Poetry With Legs featuring Sac. Poet Laureate Bob Stanley and Eskimo Pie Girl Rebecca Morrison! See the blue board at the right of this column for details. (Actually, the Wrangler-in-Chief proclaimed the entire month of October Sac. Poetry Month several years ago, but I guess that doesn’t make it official.)

Unfortunately, another of our Sac. Poetry Doyennes, Jane Blue, has hurt her hip. Think good thoughts for her, and if you’re “on” Facebook, drop a note on her wall. Also recuperating at home is Laverne Frith, who had thyroid surgery at Kaiser, followed by some complications, a couple of weeks ago.

The Modesto Poets had great success with their order-a-thon of their new book, More Than Soil, More Than Sky, on Amazon last weekend. Sales rankings put them #1 in Best Sellers in Poetry, Hot New Releases in Poetry, and Movers & Shakers in Books. They were in the top 100 for books overall, too. Way to go, Modesto (and all those who ordered books from them)!

For Halloween I am going to pull a trailer with an outhouse on it and call it “The horseless headman”. —Caschwa  Yes, it’s Halloween, and we’ve been getting H-Ween poems for weeks now in the Kitchen, so let’s make it official and call our Seed of the Week All Hallows Eve. Send your musings, ghostly or otherwise, to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs, either—see Calliope’s Closet (under the Snake on a Rod in the green box) for past SOWs, forms, and other poet-phernalia.

Speaking of forms, we’ve had villanelles on the mind and in the Kitchen recently. Judy Taylor Graham visited D.R. Wagner’s class at UCD recently and assigned them the villanelle; yesterday Dillon Shaw sent one, and here’s Joyce sending us an unrhymed one without even knowing about all these goings-on! (Carol Frith and Joyce Odam are quite fond of writing unrhymed villanelles, but I suppose that’s a story for another day….) So pop over to the “Forms to Fiddle With” in the green column for a few sites to get you rolling. I like that the second site, Baymoon.com, says, “Do you have a feeling or idea that haunts you? Then the Villanelle may be the form you need.” Great for Halloween! And the third site, webexhibits.org, has some of my favorite poems on it, all of which happen to be villanelles. “The art of losing isn’t hard to master…”


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

Blue bird, sky bird, fiery-winged
against the lowering sun,
causing the horizon to catch fire

and the moon to rise—
blood red—
and near—

and the fierce bird
soars into the red moon
with a cry that is a prayer.



 Silk Tree in Stillness
—Photo by Joyce Odam