Tuesday, November 12, 2013


—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento

There is in any chance or least designing,
say, of leaves upon leaves in flickered patterns
(as twilights do to them—or soft-lit mornings)
a point at which to recognize
such things are what they are—a change
from this to that—it is enough—

whatever this may mean—it is enough.
Yet we impose self-need for redesigning
what we admire or love but need to change
to our extended meaning of the patterns.
There is a single force to recognize:
It’s in the very movement, say, of mornings

unfolding, splendid, to the wakened; mornings
that seem not swift or slow enough
for our held moment when we recognize
the purest art as art’s own chance designing
or the grope to trust the seeking mind’s own patterns.
Something long-refused will trust the change

when we can yield ourselves to our own changing.
There is a prayer that just belongs to mornings
laying out the day in each day’s patterns
easy to fit if we, attuned enough,
can sort them out. And even words, designing
themselves—like these—are to recognize

that words but shape the thoughts to recognize
the very evolution that is change—
through every phase of being—even to designing
prayer after prayer on soulful mornings
when we dwell on this, when we leave time enough
to contemplate The Pattern in the patterns—

the complex or the simple way the patterns,
say, of leaves in flickering response together, recognize
all they fit within, the motion and the light; it is enough
to comprehend the unrelenting change
as if all life begins with just such mornings
dwindling into twilight, into night, designing

patterns that are known as death that does not change,
to recognize the worth in each of life’s dear mornings
that trust enough what life has just begun designing.

(This poem won First Prizes at the Ina Coolbrith Contest in 1995
and the Artists Embassy Int'l Dancing Poetry Contest in 1996)



Listen—the bright leaves rustle
on the old, white trees—fretting against

white bark, the blue wind assisting.
The mottled shadows offer quick response.

Listen—touches of gold light
fill in where the red leaves struggle free.

The white trees glow with light.


(after "Aunt Leaf" by Mary Oliver)

always me—
in long ago
tug of being
child within child
evolving into
future self.
I watch her playing:
pepper tree
no sibling
she doesn’t remember
being ten
or eleven
years fuse
like stuck pages
she lives in patches
self within self


Sound of wind in sudden bursts
in yellow autumn sunlight,
howling free—letting be—all

the restrictions of the mind—
in the half, into the whole—of
listening. What of such a sound

to the ever-lonely—or the
seldom lonely—there—outside
my late-morning window—

interrupting my book, my music.
Come to me, it cries—
has always cried—come to me.



Home along the leaves that have fallen from
her gold tree. She smiles goodbye and hello
with the same face. She waits in the same old
window for your wave. She remembers every-
thing about you. You are returning from her
one more time. She will embrace you and
weep. Her eloquent tree will watch through
the window and twirl its leaves in celebration;
your connection to the tree’s birds will be the
beginning of conversation. The sunlight will
cut its sharp path along the definitive branches.
All will be told in the voices of women who
know what to say to each other. Her gold tree
will sing in the air with its brightness and shed
more leaves. “These are its tears,” you will offer,
and she will know what you mean and once
more kiss you goodbye.



A black leaf outside my door,
a rain-leaf hiding from the rain

—glossy as fear, or its opposite,
release—but to what end—

I am the sympathetic one
who loves it.

(first pub. in The Aurean)


Today's LittleNip:


Another ragged leaf to remind us
of other ragged-leaf times
when we always noted the awful
and the drear      and offered love.

Not that we’re kind or sympathetic
to the inevitable ruin that is,
but that we should somehow
commiserate with what, though dead,

is here among us—dropped or fallen,
stepped on, tossed about—even
picked up now and then    like this
to say whatever there is to say about it.


—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix based on our Seed of the Week: Leaves of Change. 

Our new SOW is Jelly beans. Yes, jelly beans. The true purpose of the SOW is to be able to take an idea—any idea—and run with it. During the course of any day we see or hear or think things that spark a small idea, and as writers our job is to fan that spark into a piece of art. The bright colors of jelly beans might send you in one direction; their sweetness another; childhood associations another (I used to steal candy); left-over Halloween candy another; and then there's your diet… Sometimes the actual trigger won't even appear in the final poem, and that's just fine. 

So, go for it! Those sparks might fly into a truly great poem! And send your SOWs (including photos and artwork) to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. (Never a deadline on SOWS.)