Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Singing With The Cagebirds

Leaves After Rain
—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

How strange to come from places so far
on these horses of sleep
who bend their necks down
now that they are home.
And we must live here
on their farms
and be their owners.

What of our distances, we wonder,
and there are none.
We are the newly-arrived,
though our names are on the
gates that need painting
and sag from disrepair.

In the houses that
we do not want to enter
are endless things to do.
Weeds grow from the rugs
and there is dust on all the dishes.

But we are loyal to duty.
Like joyful trust
we fly into the mouths of cagebirds
who are hungry from singing
and we feed them our words
which is all we are.


—Joyce Odam

in the mirror is a door
through the door a room
on the far wall of the room
is a mirror . . .

in the mirror is a room
through the room a door
reflecting the door is
a mirror . . .

(first pub. in Orbis, 1973)


—Joyce Odam

Why do we get off
I do not know this place
nor any of these people.
What kind of neighborhood
is this
with its houses
of no house-numbers
and its street-names
repeated at every corner.
I thought you knew
the way.
I have always followed what you knew.
But there is nothing here,
this old, ghost-town-of-a-place
you seem to remember.

You open a door
and go in
and after a moment
I follow, trusting you,
and find
a false-front house
with fields behind
and the famous tumbleweed
of movies
rolling past.
You should have
to make this poem mysterious.
But you are standing there
with lonely welcome on your face,
your arms extended. 

(first pub. in Calliope, 1989)


(after Tragedy by Hobarth Nichols)
—Joyce Odam

What is this house where no one lives—
what of this sky, filled with such rain;

and this landscape—what of it?
How could one think to live here, all is ruin:

the broken-shadowed windows gape
and the old walls creak and strain;

the canyon drops away and the
unhampered weather continues to threaten.

But the view is wide, clear to the mountains;
the sky is deeper; the distance farther.

And this ruined house—its loneliness intact—
still buffets its old strength against the forces.


—Joyce Odam

There is an hour
known as love.

It flutters about in the heart
like a little lost bird.

You bring it home in your hands
and you buy it a cage.

You buy it seed
and a cuttlebone.

You give it a mirror
and a little swing.

And you hover
around it

and coax it to sing.
And you listen awhile,

and for a sweet while
love is not your prisoner.

(first pub. in Oregonian Verse, 1971)


—Joyce Odam

We are the quiet country to which you come;
we are as far as you will ever be.
Learn our terrain and seasons.
Learn our regionality.

We have landscapes made for calendars.
Cows live in pastoral harmony with
passing trains. All is scenic and
nostalgic here. There are no laws or jails.

The signs at the county line say Welcome.
But that is not entirely true…
even if you promise never to leave…
even if you say you were born here.

If you stay, you will become native to
our ways—earned by experience—learned by
history. You have already been counted into
the population figure posted at the county line.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's fine fare! Speaking of which, let's whip up some home cookin' for our Seed of the Week: Home Cookin'. Got memories? Let your senses go wild this holiday season and tell us about all those smells and sounds and tastes and "sense memories", past and present. and send them to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. Put 'em into a Lento if you want—see the green board for details.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

In the house are many souls
floating between rooms
lamenting through windows
balancing the rumors of their lives
with many versions

we hear them on stormy nights
and on dead-still days
how they regenerate and reminisce
as sure and safe with us
as if we knew them

(first pub. in Chaminade Literary Review, 1989)



Moss on Pavement
—Photo by Joyce Odam