Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Singing Through My Reluctance

Orange Poppy
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Today is still gray with winter.
April is next—taking its time.

For days rain has owned the world
—the old wet world.

The tireless rain keeps filling the rivers.
Hillside houses slip a little.  Gulls circle.

Clouds flood the sky—near and distant.
Heavy.  Dark.  And gray.

Levees hold—or give a little
—unseen, but felt in apprehension.

Streets puddle.  Cars slosh through.
Red sirens echo like howls of pain. 

Somewhere, a familiar sorrow
makes its way home . . . stays forever.



You said it would be with bells
that you came ringing to my side;
you said it would be with a heart full
of festive butterflies to my heart winging . . .

I polished the silence for your tonguing sound
and let the eager flowers fill my eyes . . .
you said it would be with bells! with bells!
with butterflies and bells! but you have not arrived.


I know how she does her garden every day.
Mornings at her window, looking out upon
the singing of the birds, I know how her
two shrubs cast their shadows by the door,
and how the tree responds to breezes;
I know the habit of the neighbor’s cat
who walks across the lawn, and the watchful
way she measures that against the habits of birds.
I know how the iris look in sunlight and the
roses look in shade, and the way each purple iris
has a slightly different shade though growing
side by side. I know how she goes out to check
the flowers and the changing tones of day,
and how the seasons of the garden drift away.


Now she will get up from her chair and dance;
it is a myth that she is this heavy and this old.

Sunshine has lowered to the window, and the
bells of evening fill her with surprise.

Her door will open and a gold air will pull her
from her dark room and her awful chair.

The gold air will pull her into the sunlight
that is low enough to touch.

She will go into its energy with all her light
and be new again, as once she was.



I will be the source of your discovery.
Come find me:

I am sitting at a small round table with a white tablecloth
waiting for a white cup of House Blend coffee to cool.

I inhale its steam and close my eyes.
I drift away from the moment and wait for you.


I heard the birds singing today
under my sadness
and I said,
Should I believe in spring?
Permit feeling?

And the birds were oblivious
to my thought
and they sang in the tree
by my house
where I hung clothes
under a cloudy sky
and I said,
Should I believe
in possibility?
This singing is so pleasurable.

And the birds
sang through my reluctance
to permit joy to enter my heart
and I said,
Should I permit my heart to
open to anything again?

And the birds
continued singing
in the tree by my house
and I said,
Should I linger at this chore
and enjoy the singing?
And the birds continued,
oh, continued, singing.


Up close, the slow boats on the
   tranquil water, passing each
      other in layered perspectives,
         the boats anonymous

The far off mountain sleeps
   under the flat sky—this is
      a year among years—
           time protects the boats
                 and the tranquil water

The day drones on,
   the boats seem to not move
      but they are moving—through
         the daylight—gazing—grazing
             toward the sleeping mountain.

 Orange Petals


Lest I regress to some old meaning
less desired
old scriptures lost

burdens of cost
old blunders

poor rhyme not wanted here
slant or pure
all layers intertwined

but my heart and soul can overflow
at the sight of pink blossoms
in the moody month of March,

how the quickened feeling
of hope
can change the air—

but more like the close call
of some gentle thing
that got away from death,

or the final unwinding of
the endless ball of tangled string
that life depends upon…


Today’s LittleNip:

“flowers were dressed in nothing but light.”
                                               —Mary Oliver

It was
as if the light
gave itself away to
everything—especially the

(first pub. in
Poets’ Forum Magazine)


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for a beautiful bouquet of poems and flowers, as Persephone struggles to get above ground during these tenuous days of spring. Our new Seed of the Week is The Challenges of Breeding. (Yes, breeding.) 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, for a might-ee-fine selection.


 Celebrate poetry and challenges (!) 
and the return of Persephone!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.