Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Diamond Birds

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


a flurry of birds
a white fence
a house

an old road stretching by with no one on it
a time of day
not noted for this verse
. . . all that motion . . . all that stillness . . .

a wide play of sky to hold the birds
a frame of land to hold the house
a boundary to hold the fence

an isolation so severe the birds break free to escape it

a house
a fence
a lack of birds

two disappearing ends for the road that stretches by
with no one on it



and on the landscape
the birds are singing
invisible in the trees
it is morning
and the sharp songs are everywhere
the sunlight cannot find them
though it looks and
quickens the shadows
of things that are growing

the singing of the birds
is like shouts of diamonds
celebrating their voices
the green leaves
answer with
swift protective flutterings
within which
the diamond birds are hiding

and in the center
of the landscape
a man in a pair of shorts
is sitting on a chair
that is growing from the earth
his body made golden by the sun
his soft hair lifting to the light
and he is sitting there
in all that sound
reading the newspaper

(prev. pub. in Jam Today, 1977)

 Even in the World


are the days
of stillness.
The birds
fly strangely.
There is
a fragment only
of their singing.
It falls
through grayness.
Even the leaves
hang darkly.
And there is
that is not
but a dream
of light
upon the mind.
the landscape figures
who turn
to look at the sky
move slowly
and recede
as if they were
far away
in this vast



The birds are dying in our poisoned air,
hitting the ground with useless, folded wings:
If God can’t save them from such visionings,
how is it only Man can sound despair?

The loss of them is more than loss can bear,
the sky gone empty now where nothing sings.
In shadow-memory, some motion clings;
the sky remembers and looks everywhere.

 Rain For Thirst

After “Water” (Photo enhancement
by D.R. Wagner, Medusa’s Kitchen)

Now water separates against the land.
Now earth has broken away.

Now there is only sky and water;
there is only dream,
with its ancient illusion.

The sky is caught in blue reflection
of nothing there.

Where is the gasp of warning—
the change that will change
again—surge back against

the awesome beauty of destruction.
Is this but a held breath:

time’s elasticity
that lets go a cosmic sigh
that settles back into forgiveness?

 Promise Through Barbed Wire


There is a crease where something moves
that has not moved before,

a shiver in the sky
where the white birds cross,

a hollow in the dream
where the mind lets something out,

an old desire
that fades and does not grieve.



when the birds
were young as spring
they grew gray feathers
and their eyes went dim
they brought love to my window
in little diamonds of singing

That was the season of my joy

Now in
the loose cages
of the trees
the birds are older than
all reflective distances
their song is broken glass
the bloodless leaves turn gray
and are heavily falling

(prev. pub. in Broccoli, 1970)

 Unto Heaven


Oh, Lovers, now you embark—pitifully alone
in each other—
and often you do hark to other callings,

such as purr, and moan,
and stroke, abstractedly, 
each other’s whims and meanings—

believing all the mirrors of
each other’s eyes
that hold your mirrored face

with moods,
to subtle questionings:

Do you love me? Yes!
Or tone you mishear as a No—
or Maybe—playful jealousies

and empty praise for your abstractions.
How can this compare with lack
when uncertainty is ever ready to deflect.

Oh, soon, the veils will lift
and habit take the course of expectation:
It’s all a game with rules

you’ll tend to disobey
with their exceptions that you claim
by the weariness it takes to stay in love.



This deep red water,
full of blue reflections,
drowning trees and clouds,
it is sunset
and the colors
bleed and bleed
but cannot dilute.
Water shadows
fret at the bank edges—
lap against green—
try to eat the earth away.
The trees lean out to test themselves.
The bank holds them in place.
The river turns where the light ends.
It is sunset and the river
has vanished into the sky.
The sky has swallowed the river
and the last bend of color.
All is peaceful now.
The trees can rest
and the shadows
repair themselves–
everything that was—
still is : this is the myth
of all that has no sensation—
only the sad awareness of your watching.

 There is Always the World

Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

There are always the flowers . . .

There are always the birds . . .

There is always the extinction . . .

There is always the world . . . .


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her poems and photos on the Seed of the Week: Mother Earth, as she mourns the absence of songbirds around her house this year with her usual mix of grief and hope. Her rispetto is defined as follows: Rispetto: Any complete poem consisting of two rhyming quatrains often rhyming abab ccdd. In iambic pentameter it can combine heroic forms: Sicilian (abab) & Italian (abba) quatrains—or a Sicilian quatrain (abab) and two heroic couplets (ccdd).

Our new Seed of the Week is May Day—either in nautical SOS terms, or springtime, or labor issues, or children dancing around maypoles, or even just big baskets of spring flowers. 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.

You might enjoy tonight’s Poets and Writers’ roundtable meeting tonight, 6-8pm at Sac. Poetry Center. As their blurb says, “This free, informal meeting is a great way to connect with fellow presenters, presses, teachers, and writers… to exchange ideas, news, and resources.” Sacramento Poet Laureate Indigo Moor will also speak about his projects and answer questions. They would like you to RSVP to jfitzgerald@pw.org to reserve your seat. 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 may be added at the last minute.

And Diamond Springs neighbor and poet Loch Henson has a new paperback out, entitled Hungry Ghosts, a fine collection of her poetry which is available at www.amazon.com/Hungry-Ghosts-Collected-Poems-Loch-Henson/dp/1982211962/. Check it out!

—Medusa, celebrating!


 There is always the extinction . . .
There is always the world . . . .
—Anonymous Robin Photo 

For more about birdsong, go to 

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