Tuesday, June 05, 2012


—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

For all things willing
and all things sad
I lay this small gift
beside the empty place.
I bring in my basket of
Take one, I say to everyone
till it is empty.

Ever so softly

for it is night
and everyone is sleeping
I go up and down the stairs with
my lullaby and candle.

(first pub. in California Quarterly, 1975)


—Joyce Odam

This is a day for veils,
one for the dance,
and one for the refusal.

The room is empty
but for the dancer.
There is no music.

The veils impede.
The shyness will not relent.
The dancer must learn the dance.

Time is useless. It drags and flattens.
The room spins and the dancer
falls to the floor.

A discordant music begins.


(Cover Art by SEMRÉ, The New Yorker, March 13, 2000)
—Joyce Odam

Three men making music in a world of sleep,
high up in the city with its tall horizon line
—lights on in all the empty windows,

the three men sit in a circle
with their three guitars,
their own high window staring in—

each face
undefended now—
just concentrating on the music.



—Joyce Odam

Yes, I will have more wine. Will you pour?
I will leave my plate and my spoon and the
rumpled napkin for the easy gravity of our

tired intoxication.  Look how the table tilts
in our direction with its falling goblet and
carafe—with its awkward pronouncement

of something that is over—like this night.
The shadow beneath the table is too deep,
and the wall is becoming as gray as our

empty conversation.  But, yes, I will have
more wine for the sober road that goes
nowhere again.  Will you pour?

Rose Petals and Ribbon
—Photo by Joyce Odam

(Untitled, c. 1880, unidentified photographer. The women
who posed for pornographic imagery were often the same
models who sat for the respectable académies, but for the
erotic images, they insisted on preserving their anonymity.)
—Joyce Odam 

Beside her
a bird cage stands empty,
relevant to what?

She pulls her dress up to cover her face,
reveals herself to the photographer
who uses her for art.

There’s no need to know
who she is
so she stays unknown.

But, of the bird-cage, we know
that its little door
is open.

Is it for that
that she appears to weep?
Does she stress the symbol?

She is not beautiful.
This is not about beauty,
that old tossed-about word.

But she is made to seem desirable,
anonymity reason enough
for the erotic principle.


—Joyce Odam

Love is a sad child.
We are its dying parents.

We promised it so much;
we gave it anything it wanted
when it was young and greedy.
Now we are hungry.
We cannot live on banquet
of wilted flowers that
we should have left
in the living garden.
But we had empty vases
and our eyes demanded beauty.

Here, Love, take what we have—
the wisdom of our hands—
our broken-petaled faces.


Thanks to Joyce Odam for today's Kitchen fare! We've been talking about, among other things, empty nests, our Seed of the Week last week. Our new SOW is Still Water, either based on Wendell Berry's poem of the same name (see last Sunday's post), or whatever else comes to mind, either literally or metaphorically. Does it really run deep, or...? Let us know what you think in a poem or art piece or photo or three and send them to kathykieth@hotmail.com


Today's LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

On the second floor—an empty balcony
with fancy iron railing and wrought iron chairs;

on the ground floor—people quietly sitting
on the front porch steps in the cooling air.  



 —Photo by Joyce Odam