Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Window Into a New Year

Sad Under Roses
—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

First he will look at you—so sad—
so sorry—so you won’t stay mad,
then say whatever he will say—
words that will help him work his way
back to your hardened heart: beware,
ever-so-humbly standing there—
flowers extended with such flair:
first the look, then the small sashay,
looking down at his polished shoes,
laughing his two-way laugh—you choose:
is he God’s gift or just bad news—
how he first looks at you—so sad—
so sorry—so you won’t stay mad.


—Joyce Odam

I used to obey the direction, face forward,
walking in a straight line, to the corner and
across the street, bouncing my golf ball on
the loud sidewalk—counting the distance—

so many steps—bounces—resounds—
the sensate pattern of the cracks,
obedience to superstition—another
mother—eyes in the back of her head,

I got to school this way, no snow, except
in Seattle. I lived in sunshine: summer—
summer—summer all my life. I learned to
shortcut through alleys, past the garbage

piles and there found marvelous things,
planted—I thought—for me to find
by kindly fairies straight out of
my fairy-tale books. Once a teacher

gave me tap-shoes from
the poverty closet. I was ashamed,
but loved the shoes. I went
tap-tap-tapping home from school—

feeling eyes
at windows—scolding eyes.
I don’t remember if Mother . . .
I don’t know when I lost the golf ball . . . .


—Joyce Odam

Bending to her shoe.
Priest. My mother told me of.
Priest. Bending to her shoe.
One shoe then two.
Buttoning her shoes.
Her crippled shoes.
Bent to his mother.
His dark symbolic mother
with whom he lived.
For and with.
Priest with mother
dark above him on her chair
her long gray swallowing skirt
touching the floor at his knees.
Shoe. Shoe. Priest and shoe.
Her grim presence.
Ill… Ill… Old and old.
Sitting there expressionless.
Sad duty: Son. Mother.
Priest my mother told me of.
Kneeling there
with ivory button hook
before her.
Priest. Shoe. Priest. Mother.
Prim shoe… High shoe…
of polished leather
with so many buttons
my mother told me of…

(first pub. in Etcetera, 1998)


—Joyce Odam

they danced
upon narrowing lawns

years pulled them back
old lives corrected themselves

the falling music threatened to die
the old musicians stayed in tune

old lovers loved again
strangers who came remained strangers

nothing is ever the same
some wept at this

some carried
old reasons within them

“old old”
was the name of the next song

the dancers danced again
their shoes lost under chairs and tables

the drifting dancers hung onto the
sloping shoulders of each other

time came back too soon
they went home

(first pub. in Blue Unicorn, 1991)


—Joyce Odam

The plastic boy in the window wears
a woman’s wig, a pair of long pants
and a plaid shirt. A tilted mannequin
on a stand beside him wears a falling-off

evening gown and no shoes. She has
painted-on hair and a chipped-off smile.
A newer mannequin in a corner, by the
nail full of belts and the folded umbrella,

wears a velvet hat with feathers and a
flowered skirt and long green beads
over a purple sweater. Inside the display
case, I catch my own reflection,

staring out, through the array of odds
and ends—accessories and picture
frames—books and vases—
a one-eyed teddy bear—
some baby shoes—a candy wrapper . . .

dead flies
lie upside down inside the glass.
The sign says: Enter. Open nine to five.
No checks. No smoking. Help wanted.


Today's LittleNip: 

Every single soul is a poem.

—Michael Franti


Thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poetry stew, and let's take a clue from her talk of windows for this week's Seed of the Week: Through the Open Window... What happened there? Did somebody escape, or sneak in? Did you see something you weren't supposed to see? Or was it metaphorical—a window of opportunity? Send us your window poems at kathykieth@hotmail.com, either now, this week, this month, or in the years to come. No deadline on SOWs.


Rose Leaf on Gray
—Joyce Odam