Tuesday, August 09, 2016

A Slow Twirl of Wonder

—Poems and Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Dream-children dance,
as if bewitched,
    upon the ground.
They raise their arms
and stare their eyes.
The moon is round.

The wished-on stars
fall through the night.
    If only we
could waken them—
or take their place—
    what might we free?



I remember stars in the black night . . . but
who can count the memory of that many stars?

I use the abstract words : millions :
billions : but do not know how many this is.

I am that tiny child-speck . . . dizzy from
looking up into the sky from the sidewalk,

sounds hushed, the chanting of the other
children fading into a thin ringing of voices.

I am lifting into the sky . . . dizzy with seeing.
I am a slow twirl of wonder . . . so many stars.


The Bee Man strokes the swarm
with his golden hands.
See how soft they are, he says
to the clustered children
who, inch by inch, move closer
to believe their eyes . . .

a man who touches bees . . .

at dusk
they’ve filled the box
that he placed beneath the swarm
with bait of honey-smear
to start them in
and he carries the new hive home
on his humming shoulders.

(first pub. in Poet News, 10th Anniversary Issue, 1989)


After Path in the Long Grass, c 1874 by Pierre Auguste Renoir

Up the blue hill, toward the horizon, the children file,
one behind the other in a straggle of quiet surrender—
curiosity pulling them through the summer afternoon
as everything recedes behind them: the disappearing
flowers, the last broken fence, and the single dead
tree that pokes up like an arrow just over the crest.
They don’t seem to notice how they are changing—
as if their childhood is really over, and the hill is still
there, and the illusive horizon, where the sky and
the long slope of the hill meet—just as the first of them
crosses over.


Wild grass
in the play yard
and the swings burn
in the hard sun.

Crayons melt
on the scribbled stone,
and the coloring book
has flown, has flown.

The plastic horse
cannot run
without the girl
to spur him on.

But the child sleeps
in the summer noon
in the dark-windowed

Slow, black roses
climb the fence.

There are tiger-bees
where the clover grows,
and the clothesline
waves its empty clothes.

Wild lawn
through summer gone
without a blade
to cut it down.

And the child sleeps
in the heavy noon
in the cool-shadowed

(first pub. in The University Review, 1969)


. . .  a haunting flute
in the hands of some
invisible child
banished from
childhood to the
lullaby-arms of death . . .


After Young Moe, 1928 by Paul Klee

A small bird on a field of temporary music emerges in a
composition of light which is being painted on a canvas
with a child who watches from a small distance to match
the scope of the bird that did not know of its existence.

Soon everything will fall into place, but for now, silence
chooses a color out of the spectrum to wear against twilight,
which is a time for calling forth the fears of the day.

The sharp voice of the mother is calling the child, but the
child wants to stay in the blend of time and the perfectly
balanced moment before the bird begins to sing its final
song of time’s duration.

This is the moment when everything fits the intention and
the direction that every force of thought and action has
caused. The hidden child closes its eyes and listens. The
next moment remembers none of it.



When you are startled at a cry—
a moment—then laugh and try
to make of it a lullaby
that lulls a child to sleep—
and it was you, and your mother wept
for all the sorrows she had kept—
though none for you had happened yet.
Dream cries go very deep.

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine)


one dare not ask
her children
what they know
their stories are
as thin as re-worked memories
a scent here
a sound there
mostly all silences between
re-warped to dimming recollections
caught like rags on branches
where she passed and left them
on the path she took
they only know
the vague beginning of themselves
standing in shadows
with her eyes
or in their
dark proclivities
which others see
and make comparisons upon
their little souls are safe
these go
on and on
in perfect directions
toward her light
their little souls
recite themselves to heaven
which was always
her promise to them



this old grandma,
waddling after

the well-behaved
skedaddling down
the quick
October sidewalk,

waving her

behind them


Mother, I still
try to follow
all your rules and

Every worry—
every caution—
all your praises—
I still heed them.

Your lullaby
is my anthem
when I blunder
through life’s forests.

Breadcrumbs shining
on the dark paths
lead me homeward.
I still find you.


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poetry and artwork! If you’re of a mind to try a couple of forms, her “The Moonlight Children” is a “minuette”: Twelve 4-syllable lines in 2 stanzas: x x a x x a   x x b x x b. (Lines three and six are indented.) and her “Tutelage” is a Doriece (4 syllables, 4 lines, 4 stanzas).

Our new Seed of the Week is Birthdays. Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

I hear you crying
in the frightening world
of yourself,
but unless you come to me
I cannot make anything
easier for you.

If you let me,
I will hold you for a moment
and you will feel better.



 Celebrate poetry!

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