Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Green Secrets

—Poems and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA
(with a guest appearance by Robin Gale Odam)


Pigeon?  Dove?  I’m not sure. 
You do not move nor seem afraid of me
when I park my car by the curb
and see you there—

some huddled (injured?)
thing beside the tree trunk—
frozen in camouflage, though I feel
your eye

turn, ever-so-slightly, when I step
away . . .
toward . . .
to see if you will startle.

Your plumage
takes on the look of the birch—
soft white, deep brown—
well blent.

Still curious, I get near enough
to touch. 
And still you do not move. 
You fooled me: piece of bark.



Two drops of rain make use of stillness
to explain how things can change—
be taken from themselves :

the way the water holds
the rippled light—the drowning trees
the quiet pond becomes—

an agitation where the startled moon
must watch its roundness quiver
lose the vanity of its perfection.

 The Watchful Movement of the Leaves


In the quiet glades of night—
a signature, writing its name through
the trees—fluttering ever forward

toward some depth of its own—a white
butterfly that shone
in the moonlight and seemed tireless.

I followed, and found myself
at a lake that was not there before—
or was I lost—

a small lake that held the wavering moon
and the quivery path      
of the white butterfly.  



The city
grows taller,
how greedily
it stares at itself,

window after window;
how the walls ache
with their great weight,
braced against vertigo—

perspective leaning
to a curve. We cannot
do without it now.
We give it more of itself.

We go to the very top
to feel it lean and sway—
lean and sway. We look down
into our own diminishment

and become changed. We look
upwards into the shrinking sky.
The more we fill it, the more 
we are alone—separately divided. 

 The Nudging Breezes


Somewhere trees of dark design
droop into sorrow to refine
the art of losing leaves and time . . .

the art of losing leaves and time
drooping with sorrow to define
the dying trees of dark design.



all night the bell
cold and melancholy
tones the stretching hours,
the non-sleep,
the ghost distances…
through window after window
the old light finds the way,
touches the bed
where you lie
in abject sleeplessness,
passes over you
up the wall
searching for a way through…
the birds of sleep
in their deep trees,
and the watchful movement of leaves,
the nudging breezes,
the shadows of thought,
the little perfections of dreams
perfect the dark…
a dawn rises
brings its white cloth
shakes it free
spreads it over everything,
the sad world,
the pale reunions
where sound and silence meet…
you are not the one,
you must know that,
you have been unchosen,
it’s not what you thought,
not that at all….

(first pub. in
Partiing Gifts, 1996-97)

 The Birds of Sleep in Their Deep Trees


This long path between trees, their shadows
crisscrossing in the last of the sunlight—

this long perspective into evening, this soft
intensity of light—how soon the darkness

will know itself and obliterate
the narrowing point the eye is fixed upon.



Reams of light unfolding over the landscape—the
long way to anywhere, the time it takes to get there,

the silence in the car, the way time seems unreal when
you are obliviously lost—the billboards whizzing by—

unimportant in the dusk. Why silence now?  There is
so much to say, the way direction holds true, no matter

which way you enter it—the belief in destination—
in safe travel—in never having to stop for relief or

to refuel. The moon is a clock.  It moves across the
ever-shifting night. It hides and reappears.  It grows

until it fills the new horizon and bursts open, spilling
its last illumination . . . oh, that can’t be real . . . this

is only a slow trip home in an old car—the way
familiar—the whole world changed—the night air

coming in the window—only a few last headlights
coming by from the other direction.

(first pub. in Curbside Review, 2003)

 The Green Secrets


The trees tell lies.
They are scribbling
terrible green secrets
before my eyes.

They are beckoning
and sending away
the green-songed birds;
they are frightening the skies—

they are making such a
violent agitation within
the carefully-held breath
of the still air—

what do they mean!
what do they mean!
what do they know of green
that I can’t remember?

(first pub. in
Driftwood, 1969)


After “Heard Whispers” by Robert Bly

She hears what is lonely
and speaks back in a whispered voice,
not too destroy the distance between them.

What never answers is love, with its caution,
with its fear,
which is jealous of surrender.

She hears what is lonely and sends
her loneliness in return, a whispered voice
answering, so low she cannot hear.

 The Sighing Trees


I push through barrier after barrier with my life
which is crowded with intention and failure.

I am huge. I fit everywhere, for I am forceful;
I am my own jungle of resistance.

Trees crowd into me—
challenge my right to be among them.

I push them aside.
As long as I am strong I can do this.

At night I sleep among
the sleeping trees.

Each morning
we begin again.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Anna Joyce and Robin Gale Odam

the birds of sleep
in their deep trees,
the green secrets,
the nudging breezes,
the sighing trees, the
watchful movement
of the leaves . . . hush.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam today, and to her daughter, Robin Odam, for her part in Today’s LittleNip, which is a “found” poem made from the titles of today’s photos which are, in turn, each taken from one of the poems! Such clever writers these are!

So our new Seed of the Week is a Found Poem—and no, not a poem you found in the middle of the street.
Bob’s Byway defines a Found Poem as “A poem created from prose found in a non-poetic context, such as advertising copy, brochures, newspapers, product labels, etc. The lines are arbitrarily rearranged into a form patterned on the rhythm and appearance of poetry.” (www.poeticbyway.com/gl-f.html). 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.

Don’t forget that James Lee Jobe’s inauguration as Davis Poet Laureate will be today at 5:45pm at the Davis City Council meeting, 23 Russell Blvd., Davis (cityofdavis.org/city-hall/city-council/city-council-meetings/agendas). Congratulations, James!


 Celebrate poetry!—and the end of summer...

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