Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Table Full Of Words

Girl With Rose in Basket
—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

All day I measure and sift
create and fill the oven
mess up the kitchen
fill the tables and the counters
spill peach juice everywhere
leave rings of flour
pick at the cake crumbs with my fingers
drink coffee after coffee
read recipe books to their endings
like a good novel
I am a baker
I send you to the store
for more flour, sugar, spices
expensive ingredients
for my fever
I make one thing after another
until I am done
and we, not hungry, eat none of it.

(pub. in One Dog Press Broadside, 2006;
Love Bites, Mini-Mag 2008)


—Joyce Odam

I cannot name the egg again.
It remains as mysterious as ever.
I, making ordinary breakfast
of the egg,
never consider what I am doing.
Sometimes I try to be talented with it,
cracking it open with one hand
and dropping it into the pan
without breaking it.
Nests of it turn under chickens
into a tedium of miracles
which I can hear forming.
If it floats, it is bad.
It can be saved for throwing.
Original Chicken pecks her eggs
with her curving and yellow beak
that is hard as a bone.
The eggs of the goose are stacked into
a mountain.
She will not hatch them.
I am surrounded by eggs.
I use them for symbols.
Three ducks so far have given us
three sets of ducklings.
One or two of each set always drowned,
though I always knew
that ducks always take to water.
At dusk, we gather the eggs,
stealing them from all the intention.
We go where it is dark and full of straw
and take them.

(first pub. in Permafrost, 1980)


—Joyce Odam

I ate my life like a starvation.
It was not enough.

I was hungry for sorrow.
It was good.

Now hunger lives in me
like an addiction.

I taste the edges of tomorrow
and am obese with yearning.


—Joyce Odam

And right in the crotch
of the long-stemmed onion
the good soil lies

just where the translucent
meets the shiny green.

Black grit
is wound in the tiny slices,
absolute, contained.

Something wise
and poetic in me
leaves it there.

We shall eat the earth
We shall realize

grateful communion
with the source
of such good fare.

(first pub. in Trace, 1969)


—Joyce Odam

onion at three a.m.
rotting in the sack
tracking it down
that sour spoiling thing
sentencing everywhere
with its ruin and its soft
that my hand must touch
and examine the others
next to it

and I think of how wasteful
all life is
and death is wasteful too
with its unconcern for
choosing what
on the outside
looks so fresh and firm
or deceptive age
which is well preserved

and what to do with it all
for it lingers so
in the bloated air
in the kitchen
where the use for it
was lax or slow
for we never mean to purchase
what we will not use
the way cooks do
who like to invent
their recipes
from what they have on hand

like the hearty pot of
onion soup
we could have had
simmering artfully
in winter’s house
on a particularly cold
and hungry night

(first pub. in Interim, 1988)


—Joyce Odam

laundry soap
brillo pads
tooth picks

and why not (a poem)

something to clean
something to rust
and something to

celebrate steak

(first pub. in Lyrismos, 1967-68)


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

Here is a table full of words. Flesh and wine.
Gorge yourself. Never be hungry. Even the
crumbs are precious. Ask for more.

Fill your mouths and eyes.
Push your chair back. Fall asleep.
It’s all useless language. Do not speak.

(first pub. in Brevities, 2008) 



Our Seed of the Week is Happy Holidays? Is it truly the season of light for you, or is it a rush of materialism, tension, family strife, something to get through? Send kathykieth@hotmail.com your holiday poems: memories, longings, joys, forgivenesses. Surely your muse is itching to talk about it...

Photo by Joyce Odam