Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Smithys & Weed Buffalos

Weed (after rain)
—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

outside in the rain
the weed buffalo
is lying in the field
asleep or patient
waiting for
another quirk of imagination
to free him

he is out of place
in the center of
all that mown yellow
under the landing planes . . .
the buses going by . . .

he cannot change himself into
another shape
or move
unless the gathering wind
shall come and separate him
from the clumped position:

then what will i conjure
staring through the window

(first pub. in The Wormwood Review, 1974)


—Joyce Odam

I’m beginning to wonder
if the buffalo is dead;
he has not changed position
since I wrote him there.
The field is slowly closing up
around him.
He guards the silence
as if it were his own.

The rain has fallen through him.
The fog has made him mysterious.
The sunlight has given him
a breathing look.

His great and clumsy head
is turned to the same loud intersection
as if he alone sees what is out there.
I’ve followed the angle of his
watching and learned no patience from it,
felt no ghost-rustle,
no future presence.

And to this day
no one has come to ask me, “What is
that buffalo doing in your field?"
Nor could I tell them.

He just lies there
in the center of new weed-growth
becoming shaggier in the daylight
from all that winter—
becoming vague—as if he
tires of all my watching.

(first pub. in Prize Poems of the National Federation
of State Poetry Societies anthology, 1974)


—Joyce Odam

Banana skin flowers,
limp and brown as the wilt
of yesterday’s hunger,

lie in disarray,
a discarded bouquet
from yesterday’s feast.

That was a yellow time,
ripe in the over-indulgence
of our taste

and good . . .
and so good . . .
too bad we must waste

the bright petals too
that fold down
in such squander.

(first pub. in Atom Mind, 1970)


—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam

There is a color of old fields:
overgrown yellow
scratching at the city-eye,
waving like necessary grain,
reaching across
the disappearing sidewalks
with a thistle-touch of warning.

It is a tall color
and harder than amber,
its brittle, round stalks gleaming
like yellow bone
in the boneyard of its being.

It talks in the wind
and quarrels with the wild rose
that lies bleeding in its center
where beer cans listen,
crushed and glinting
when the sun comes reading.

It is a color of survival
in deprivation,
triumph of wild over man’s brief taming;
a self-sufficient color,
waiting on rain for some far greening,
and hardier
than man’s fragile meaning.

(first pub. in Bitterroot, 1967, and in
Weed Symbolism Mini-Chap, 2002)


—Joyce Odam

Thus are we moved to silences more deep
than we can reach: think why the brain must keep

thin margins of emotion to betray,
that hate from love is just a pulse away;

nesting within the mind like sleeping twins
they wait for what some happening begins.

Think of how many times the heart has called
one twin awake to find that, duo-walled,

the other wakes instead, and what was meant
is altered through the answerer’s intent.

Caprice. Caprice. The twins are double named,
transcendent over Will (though Will be blamed).

Think love and hate; think Jekyll and Hyde: the tie
of two in one, the I within the I.

(first pub. in American Bard, 1966
and The Confetti Within Chapbook, 1974)


—Joyce Odam

Not to be forgotten
for memory is
the last place they will go.

And you will go there, too,
and suffer for them,
having caught up with yourself,

a suffocation of thoughts,
remorse tweaking your mind
at unexpected moments

until you ask,
of no god but yourself,
forgive….  forgive….  forgive….


Thanks to Joyce Odam for today's fine bouillabaise of poetry and photos, including a fitting finish to last week's Seed of the Week: Weeds. Bad memories, corrosive thoughts—all weeds to clear out with your own version of Roundup.

This week, let's move under the oaks as the hot sun starts to creep into the Valley and environs for Under the Mighty Oak. What happened there? Assignations? Murders? The village smithy? Or is it just the scratching and planting of all those creatures taking advantage of the shade and the rich habitat of bugs and acorns that any oak tree provides? Send your poetic thoughts on the subject—and don't forget to think metaphorically, as well—to And thanks to Taylor Graham for the photo of the oak tree that's in the green box at the right of this! (You probably can't see them, but there are cedar waxwings in her tree.)


Today's LittleNip: 

—Joyce Odam

My blue mirror
broken now
will my face die

in seven years will I
become a hag

now must I come to terms
with superstitions?



—Photo by Joyce Odam