Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter Garden

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento

(After painting by Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins)

The children are caught in the pose of dancing
—the musician in the act of music. The street

is empty except for them;
time has held them this way

for as long as it took to be now. 
The street shadows flicker

with twilight mutings.
Summer is slow to go.

The musician poises his bow
in the quiet position,     and the girl

lifts her skirt,     and points her toe,
as the boy mimics     her petite ballet;

the street lengthens,    the time is now—
is then,    is now,    time is

a soft and melting blue, the musician’s
children still holding the pose of dancing.



One two three four five.

Pull something out of
the hat. Six seven

eight nine ten. Count back:
Ten nine eight seven,
round and round to one

more—one more?—two more
times, as many as
it takes to get out
of this trap—how the

mind-quirk works, fiddling

with words. Two four six
eight ten, a break in
pattern. Weave in. Weave
out. Try for threes, un-

even. Three six nine.
What hat?—boredom hat,
floor-hat, cards tossed in:

Ace Deuce King Queen Jack,
most on floor—not in

Top Hat. Stupid game.

(first pub. in Rattlesnake Preview, 2008)


How do I render thee—O Still Life:
flowers…    fruit…     glass…  

how do I render—
faithful to pencil:  mind…   eye…
in attempt at rendition—

exact...      or impression...
how decide
when arrangements wilt…

spoil…   or shift their shadows...
how bring talent
from lack of talent...   time as fickle....



A woman made of stone lived in the rain
in the winter garden of a bitter man
who hoarded all the years that were the bane
of his remembrance since memory began.

He may have been her sculptor —maybe not.
Time froze them both and left them stubborn where
no memory would save them —they forgot
time could outlast her patience and his stare…

she as a semblance now, he but a shell,
the rain between them, windowing the years,
the garden drowned with nothing to foretell
of his stone eyes and of her sculpted tears.

Erosion was the answer —time’s own toll,
one without love…the other without soul.

(first pub. in CFCP Contest Winners booklet, 1999)


Today's LittleNip:


These are the days of February—blossoms quick-
ening the trees. All over the city, white blossoms,
pink blossoms—brightening the cold, thin air.

And the mood of winter begins to fight for itself,
bites down on nights and keeps changing its mind.
Dreams up frost, and paints the days differently.

(first pub. in
NERVE, 1996)


—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pansies! Flowers are some of the many stars of Valentine's week; see Joyce's pansies today, and Martie Odell-Ingebretsen's flower shop suite last Sunday. Let them be the stars of our new Seed of the Week: In the Flower Shoppe. What goes on there? Expressions of love, sorrow and grief, the new beginnings of weddings? Tell us what went on in the flower shoppe and send your poems/artwork/photos to kathykieth@hotmail.com

Recently someone wrote to ask if the poems people send me need to be about the SOW. Absolutely not! Poems/artwork/photos of all ilk are welcome here; the SOWs are just for fun and to kickstart your muse if she's feeling a bit sluggish, and you can find more Seeds in the Calliope's Closet link at the top of this column. Don't be shy—the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!