Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April Stanzas

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


I watch the treetops swishing in the air; their joy
(or agitation) is what my watching gives them.
That small dark bird—but a shape of quick
movement—gone before I can name him.                  

This drooping row of yellow roses—held up
by the iron fence—so generous with their petals.
A purple lady—walking fast—almost falls—
swerving to miss a leaf-shadow (or a pavement flaw).
Two men with a basket of noisy cans loudly share
their green bottle of morning wine, jovial together,

and their quick brown dog turns an abrupt corner—
surprised, its shadow continues down the sidewalk.

After “Blue Remembered Hills” by Howard Hodgkin

take the blue—how dark it is—
how it forms a deep curve,
like a rising wave,

and the yellow
that fits-in where it can,
flashing splinters of sun light,

and bits
of brown
become the ground—

the heavy, closing, border of black
becoming the eventual night
that pends,    and pends



I gave you the yellow bowl
and the yellow cup
with the red design,
but still you were unhappy . . .

I put raisins in your oatmeal
with a dash of nutmeg on the milk,
but still you would not give up
your sadness,

I sang a song and made a speech,
but you were still quarrelsome
and your eyes would not
give up my face.

And I went breaking like a dish
slipped out of
failing hands
and I went crashing to a cry,

so angry now
that both of us,
of your dark moodiness,
could die.


So many flowers do I see
that I’m afraid I trouble thee—

all whimsy and emotive guile,
to prattle on in some old style—

waxing flowery in my speech.
My woozy heart is moved to reach

an eloquence too far to know—
it’s just how longingly I’d go

back to some time beyond my birth
to find an older-fashioned worth—

so many flowers do I see—
I do believe they’ve giddied me.

If she were real,                
                “The Lady in White”
               —Charles Courtney Curran, 1961-1942

she would bend toward the light of
yellow flowers before this dull background
of rain, or sea;

her white hat would shade her face
and her hand reach endlessly toward
some touch she craves;

she might expect response,
for the scene lives—as she lives—
in the capturing of time;

whatever her name, we would call her
some beloved name of our own,
for, even as we watch,

the brush-stroked blue
is fading with loss,
and the flowers merely bend away.

After The Flower Seller, 1942 by Diego Rivera

This burden of yellow is all that you can bear, however
beautiful—heavy as light on a late summer.  How bent
you are—sagging at last to the weariness—no matter if
flowers.  You are tired of light-soaked flowers that al-
ready settle into their dying—like you—glorified by the
zeal of the hidden artist who overloads your basket with
this burden of yellow.



those summers
you stood under tall corn
laughing in your pride
a golden man in golden corn

and the soft mysteries
of the corn talking . . .
talking . . . as we walked under
almost cool there

those summers
you grew sunflowers
rivaling Jack’s beanstalk height
so towering . . .

their huge faces
bending down
heavy with light
your arm reaching upward, but

they were
even taller than that . . .
you smiling at me . . .
oh camera summers

(first pub. in One Trick Pony)



Today I walked hastily toward a door. There was a shadow
in the wall and when I reached a patch of light there was no
door. I turned toward a window and looked through. The
world was wild and torn. A rose fell from the wind. I was
afraid, for where I was, was not where I must be. The door
became a shadow, not a wall. The light became a sound.
The rose became a bird.  It sang, and broke me free.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam
The rain has lessened. Everything subsides.
The winds. The sirens. All the dreary news
the day began with. All that’s whole divides.
The silences stay silent to confuse.
We don’t know how to read each other’s clues
or all these pendings—not just if but when.
It rained. It stopped. And it will rain again.


Many, many thanks to Joyce for today’s poetry and photos! Trouper that she is, Joyce was able to read at Sacramento Voices last Saturday, despite a brief stay in the hospital earlier in the week. Later this week, I’ll post an album on Medusa’s Facebook page, photos that Katy Brown took last Saturday, including some endearing ones—such as the one below, which appeared on Facebook last Sunday. If anyone else has any photos, I’d very much appreciate you sending them so we can add them to the album. (By the way, was that you, Michelle Kunert, who took this photo (below) of Joyce and D.R. Wagner?)

Be sure to keep an eye on the listing of poetry readings for the week; more are added as we speak. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more will probably be added at the last minute.

Our new Seed of the Week is Frustration. 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 plenty of others to choose from.



D.R. Wagner, Joyce Odam
Celebrate poetry!

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.