Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Threading of Words

Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

October trees, all red and golden in the sun,
the way they hold against the thought

of winter, soon to come,
the way I hold myself and wait

for the fall of leaves to grieve,
as one grieves endings,

loved because they’re gone.
I quicken to the season,

wanting to share with words,

unable to exclaim,
or even see, or know,

what is before them, all ablaze:
October trees—so red and golden in the sun.


—Joyce Odam

is it still gray out
shall I write the poem on
pink paper
shall I use a pencil or a pen

oh will the world not be sunny again
day is filled with
three moody crows
though I cannot see them

they peck at my trees with
well-fed hunger
no I shall not feed them
any more black words

soft whirls of winter are
sliding beneath the doors and over
the floors though I have
stuffed pillows here and there

I will write soft lumpy lines
with light at the edges
I will write winter till
it is sick of me and leaves my pages

(first pub. in View, 1973)


—Joyce Odam

I thought it best to weave them
as they came, let them be what they are
to each other—I, their collector—

late October words
at the verge
of winter.

there’s a word,
I let it merge with the others,

turn gold,
turn rust red
on surrendering trees,

let the words color
let them fall
like October leaves—

I, who love them, summer the words,
and some of them take pity,
saying, here, take me.


Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam

October has come—disguised as

An urgency begins.
Something unfinished.

A quickness in the light.
A richness of movement.

Sounds break at the edges.
The calendar begins to die.
All its pictures turn into an album.

Did we do all those things
marked in
the squares?

The great sadness of time begins its mourning,
quick,      quick,        quick.
Oh-h .  .  . ,

for the losses,
quick and rare.
October disguised as summer again.


—Joyce Odam

yellow light through dark tree
spaces between black leaves
sky-blue light through dark tree

chairs in a patio
sweepers with slow brooms
murmured conversations

a woman in purple
a woman in green
patio door open to October

oh how the light leans
into the hour which moves
oh how the light leans

the yellow light through the dark trees
the thin blue light
through the thick and gathering leaves


—Joyce Odam

Last night I saw the moon—
stark and distant—
high above the trees,

accustomed to finding it
low in their branches.
I noticed the sky:

a strange blue—
gray blue,
and cloudless,

a chill in the air,
the night gone still
after four days of wind

that tore
and tore itself
through everything.

But last night—
going out to take the trash
to the curb—

I saw the chalk-white,
faceless moon;
it seemed

so far and lonely
in the static sky.
I simply stopped and stared.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

I’m October.
I’m moody.
I don’t know what I want.
I want it all.

(first pub. in One Dog Press, 1996)


More updates from Trina Drotar on the changing of the guard at Poetry Now: I'm finishing the last issue of PN now and should have that to the printer today or tomorrow, and Katy Brown will be the Executive and Poetry Editor, Paco Marquez will be the Associate Editor, and Laura Baumann will be the Managing Editor. Thanks, Trina! You've done a wonderful job on a tough project, and NorCal poets are mightily grateful.

Time for another Seed of the Week: Blood Moon. I came across an interesting book in my own library (!) by Gwydion O'Hara, called Moonlore. In it, she talks about the names and lore that the moon takes on for each month in cultures around the world. Here's what she says about the Blood Moon:

The lunar cycle of October is that of the Blood Moon; its legends are of death. During the Blood Moon, the changes of the earth make visible the first signs of winter’s arrival. The trees’ changing colours and the air’s crispness herald the winter season. All that live upon the earth make ready for winter’s time of dominion. The squirrels hurriedly gather any last bits of food before the snows hide it away from their reach. Those who slumber through the cold months have made ready their beds. The birds have already taken to the air in search of the warmer lands to the south. People have taken their grain to the winter store and sealed their swelling tightly against the bitter, biting chill of the winter winds. The earth has begun to fall to barrenness, and people will turn to the hunt for their sustenance. In this time, when all the world works feverishly to prepare for the coming season, the elders dedicate their tales to the Blood Moon. [See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter%27s_moon]

So take a tip from Joyce's moon and send your muse off in that direction—yes, blood may be spilled—and send the results off to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. And while you're at it, try a rubaiyat (see Forms to Fiddle With on the green board). Maybe a rubaiyat about the moon?


Joyce Odam reading at SPC's tribute to Elsie Whitlow Feliz
October 17, 2011
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis