Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Autumn-Dancing: The Dust of Sunsets

Autumn Palette
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Blue is a dawn word
and a twilight word; at dawn 

it sounds like the moment just before
birdsong; at dusk it sounds like a shadow.
Blue is sometimes an alto saxophone
and sometimes a flute sound in the rain.

Blue moves in slow motion to hear itself
move.  Blue is heavy with saturation.

Blue is a kind of prayer spoken
by loves who have lost each other.

Blue can dance to its own blue music
to which reunited lovers are slowly dancing.



The sky, filling with blue, then a fragile cloud or
two, threading. A sharpness of birdsong, penetrating

the silence—brief—and from no distance other than
where it was a startled moment back. Then, that slow,

soft tone of whiteness that takes the place of early
blue, the way you slowly surrender the owned moment

to the swift intrusion of sounds and urgencies, your
reluctance to rise from the warm bed—seductive with

comfort—warm around you. The sky again—gone flat
outside your window-measure, full of daylight now,

the clouds, losing their pink direction, taking on the
heavy factory gray that smudges them.

You stretch and sigh. You look at the clock. 

 Leaves on Cement

There is something about the color
of the sea . . .

by the seaside, many dreams
are buried in the sand

the unrealities of the heart
are found and lost

colors are indescribable
hues of twilight

graced by sounds and sighs
that whisper endlessly

the colors merge into the night
the gracious seas protect the shores,

the lingerers,    the undefined,
all in the senses—tidal as the mind



The old fat couple lived in a tiny house
with their fat white cat who caught no mouse
but ate and slept throughout its years.

The old fat couple smiled and sat.
She cooked. He read.
The old white cat stretched and purred.

The breezes stirred. The tiny house
breathed out its ribs and settled back.
Each covered chair and polished top

rejected dust. The shining appliances
clicked and whirred.
The wiring and pipes traveled and rattled.

The fairy tale was not complete.
The cat and the couple had more to eat.
They ate all spring. They ate all winter.

They watched for mail and they
watched for hunger. The shiny eye
of the shiny cat would slit and glitter;

it shone with dark till dark was stronger
and the old fat couple rocked and talked
and clapped and laughed. And that was that.

(first pub. in Neovictorian Cochlea, 2000)

 Echo, Shadow


But for the tempting green
woods edging these tracks
one might long to follow the 
woodsy sunlit opening where
something pulls with an old

What stirrings here, what
twinge of satisfaction for the
curious to mull. Old scattered
gravel, tracks broken off and
turning into dead ends before
shutting down completely.

The old tracks gleam through
their rust. Reverberations seem
to linger. The trees close in and
chill. The day darkens. A moan
in the changing air sounds like
a faint and far away train



Tonight, an old loon—
lamenting itself, I think,
cries in my mind, though
I have never heard a loon . . .
but some such cry resonates
from somewhere deep—some
sound never heard before, but
known to my unease.

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine)

 A Bed of Stones

After “Antares” by Arthur Sze

She took the notes from a violin and made
them into a collage of imaginary music—

Grandfather’s music—played for her before
she was born—played for her mother when

her mother was a child, and the keeper of
the violin.  And she could hear that music

in her mind when a certain tone of wind blew
through the house, or when a shadow spoke.

She knew the music by heart when heart was
lonely and death claimed every secret as its own.



the drone of sound,
its soft monotony,
the sound that links

that hum beyond
the folding din and
what it becomes

that almost sensory under-
tone that holds the balance
against the sway

the orange sound in the
working of the butterfly’s
strong wings

the sound made when
a brown leaf falls
on a brown day

 After Rain

After “The Fall” by Russell Edson

Two leaves do not make a tree—or rather the tree does not
know the leaves are gone. No wind confesses or complains.
Nor do the branches discuss the altering lift of their limbs.
The evening window watches all of this.

Two leaves are not the core of this thought. They were al-
most brittle with time and its ultimate cost. And while the
season was changing, Sadness came and sat down, wearing
a dour expression. (Sadness becomes him—

so said the mirror, averting its reflection.) Little blue ques-
tion marks fluttered around, needing, as always—answers.
The tree fidgeted in the sense of the storm increasing. The
leaves loosened their stems. Sadness

could not give up the urge to weep—the way the room
crackled, causing a change in scenery, which made Sadness
stifle a whimper. The mirror broke in a crack of thunder.
Two leaves fell from a tree.

The tree did not notice. Sadness looked for comfort. The
mirror broke in a crack of thunder, splitting the tree-limb
from the shuddering tree.



I carry the sense of melancholy on my back; I am a beast
of my own burden.

I have acquired patience, which is a gift of endurance;
I suffer in silent decibels.

No one hears me pass among them in my mortal costume
though I wear small bells on my ankles to sound my way.

My face is hidden deep in my collar and my sleeves fill
with ache of home, which is here and nowhere.

My garment grows heavy with the dust of sunsets.
The threads of my first embroidery wear away.

I go everywhere once—and never return—you see how
this is loneliness?

(first pub. in Tule Review, 2002)

 A Praise of Yellow

Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

poor damn yellow weed
pulling its life from the
ground under the crack in
the cement island between
the iron poles
in the service station…

never mind that…it is making
the wild sweet effort…
autumn-dancing…telling the wind
yesyesyes here i am….

(first pub. in
The Small Pond, 1974)


A big thank-you to Joyce Odam for sending us poems and photos that crackle and pop for our Seed of the Week: Autumn Sounds. About these, she writes: “The poems were easier than the pictures, for the prompt [Autumn Sounds]. But I brought some old scattery autumn leaves out for the showing... I think such sounds can be imagined….”

Joyce mentions Arthur Sze in her poem, “Hearing Violin Music”. For more about him, go to www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/arthur-sze/. To hear him read his poem, “The Shapes of Leaves”, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WPdx3ifDd4/.

Our new Seed of the Week is "Abandoned". 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.

The Other Voice reading in Davis meets this coming Friday, hosted by James Lee Jobe. But tonight, Nov. 14, his The Other Voice Poetry Workshop will meet at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, 27074 Patwin Rd., at 7:30pm. See www.facebook.com/events/1554321871317679 for details.


 Celebrate poetry—
and the sounds of the rain!

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