Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Dark Listens

The Field
—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.



the hailstones
through the screen door
we hug at the doorway, hello,
we hug at the doorway,
we never reach
the rainbow     oh loss
oh loss
in abeyance
the time between our last visit
and the next
travel this way
travel that way
way is everywhere
wanting what I want
extent of yearning
humility of acceptance
watching the train
rumble by,
reading the graffiti
all night
the shadows speak to one another
the dark listens

 As In Velvet


We are all

even where the dark
is finished

and the paisley

some in white stockings
some in gray

with the stray sunshine
heavy upon the year

for the fashionable dressing
of poetic demands

even as we try
to gauge

the seasonal

nothing so clear
as memory in its revision

 Golden Bee


On the pathway,
the quick-footed blackbird—
in the sunlight—strutted and glistened,
flew up to the fence rail
and sat there


Later that day, a rainbow hooked itself to one end
of the sky and folded into the rain-weighted clouds
for awhile and just curved there, but soon dwindled
off into moody space—like us in our mutual silence.


Cows occupied the slopes on each side of the freeway,
so at peace with themselves—forming circles
of idle companionship here and there—
while others continued grazing.
Behind them, the near fields
leveled off into the far
line of hills, which
further leveled
off into the
flat white
line of



It was the season of acute loneliness.
Blossoms came to the trees.
The skies softened.
Sunlight worried the cold glass of windows.
Geese had returned
with their wavering far cries,
guiding each other.
First robins brought their dear amazement
to winter eyes.
I filled the lengthening days
with my lethargy.
In all the nurseries,
disparate people
were buying seeds and flowers,
welcoming the season
with bursts of energy.
I had no energy.
My mind was too heavy.
I had nothing to offer.
My winter heart
had left me this lonely season of mockery.



Hello, Horse,
I say to the empty field
when driving by
in my back-and-forth way—
recalling how Horse used to occupy
the field like a lifelong tenant . . .

I miss Horse . . .
It was a comfort to see
him always there—
removed from all the traffic whizzing by.
I used to wonder what he thought.

Goodbye, Horse,
I whisper like a blessing,
made sadder now
by his absence—the field
just an empty field, except for the ghost
that lingers—like a loneliness.

 Scene Stealer

(“One swallow does not make a spring.”—Aristotle)

What is this absence? This loss
we feel? This timing gone wrong?
This cold season?

What is the meaning of a species
almost vanished? Should we mourn?
Should we learn to save ourselves?

What is after us?
We are pressed together in a vast
disharmony. We lose the rhythm.


The last poet in the world
sits writing in a quiet yard.
He looks around for inspiration.

The sunlight is warm upon him.
He is disconnected from his own memory.
He sees a shadow cross his page

and he looks up in joy . . .
it is the last swallow . . .
his is the last poem to speak of it.  

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine, 1997)

 Pink Blur


In the full-moon night of morning
of this first full-day of spring,
I feel the moon ignite the
dark with a fierce quiet
as I rise from my dream
and go to the window
to find the powerful
square of light—
so near—out-shining
the street lamps, and the
porch lights, and the first few
headlights of the morning, and I
stand there awhile in the stillness
and begin to map my day which, in
this clear, shimmering moment, I own.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2011 andSong of the San Joaquin, 2016)


Today’s LittleNip:

RAIN LULLABY           

Now that it has begun raining
this first day of March
of this continuing year

I will turn off the light,
put down my book
and listen to

the sound the rain makes,
willing the house to be silent
so I can listen myself to sleep.

—Joyce Odam

(first pub. in
One Dog Press, 2011)


Medusa’s thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s beautiful bouquet of poems and photos about being on the cusp of spring—our Seed of the Week: The Death of Winter. Joyce’s “Horse in the Rain” is in the form of an unrhymed poem called Quantitative Syllabics (3, 7, 4, 6, 10,  8). Each line of a stanza section—of any length—contains the same number of syllables in the corresponding line of subsequent stanzas.

Our new Seed of the Week is Dawn Chorus. To learn what that is, go to www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/what-dawn-chorus/. To inspire yourself with sound, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJpWTuAdBiw. Send your poems, photos & 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 newest issue of
Ekphrasis, the journal edited by Sacramento’s Laverne and Carol Frith, is now available at www.ekphrasisjournal.com/.


Cover, A.D. Winans' Crazy John Poems

In April 2018, Cold River Press will be releasing 
A.D. Winans’ compilation of poems from the 
Crazy John Poems series. The retail price is $14.95, 
plus $5 shipping...BUT it can be purchased from 
the publisher at the pre-publication price of $12.95, 
which includes FREE shipping. This offer ends 
at the end of March 31, 2018. 
first ten orders receive a free copy of Winans’ CD, 
The Reagan Psalms, which retails for $12.95.

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.