Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Roses and Sun Dust

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


What a surprise to find this room heady with roses—
full of light—full of you, sinuating toward me. And
what a surprise to find myself going toward all this
with my old rhythm, caught again on this drift of

False, says the sun dust, swirling with disturbance
as I approach—as I enter the image of regret.

But you are waiting—wrapped in rose-scent—rose
petals falling all around you, the soft floor rising
with a subtle feel of dizziness. I merge toward you
as if we loved each other; as if there were gifts to
offer and receive; as if you were not only made of light.

And you are fading into the sun dust—only an open
window now, where a frayed curtain flutters with some
movement I misinterpret out of an old sensation. 



What are roses when they wilt—
wilt and die—scented and soft,
as the softest words to say this?

Expensive when alive :
roses for lovers
as token,
as symbol,
perfection without claim—
roses with long green stems,
innocent thorns, warning against touch.

Roses cut from bushes are for sacrifice.
Shrubs cannot hold them against this.
Vases will oblige them—present them.

or by the dozen,
roses will pose for you with their presence—
admire them,
sigh over them,
take their picture
from bud to fullness, to petal-fall,

trash now—
tossed away—given to loss—
leaving a trail of sadness behind them.

 The Day of the Day

THE DEADLY ROSES              

I am not so content with roses now. They crowd
and suffocate. Their petals drop like prayers—
unanswered and obscene. They bruise my carpet
where I pace in all my fury. Love has killed me, so
I kill it back. I tear it into screams. These roses
that you send compress the air. Why send me
roses now! Why offer insult upon pain! Words
cannot be taken back. I scorn your roses—keep
their thorns.



Meager though the tokens are
I hoard them now.

A paper clip will fit them all :

One letter, and one formal card,
one small note from a shop bouquet.

(first pub. in Muse of Fire, 1997)

 Remembering Goodbye


Light—and the power
within light—
lingers past the season.
She flows under time
in her dress of wilting roses.
She will become unreal.
She will not be held by dull formality.
She can feel a tone of weeping. 
She moves away from it.
It follows and waits. Every love
has its sadness, hers is given back now
to the old enmity and need. It is
the music under everything,
far away and merciless.
She finds herself humming
and it makes her throat ache,
and her heart—grief, useless grief—
and the way grief tries to hold her
against life like an accusation.
Why does grief still want her?
Time has slipped beyond her, bringing
her back, through the moment, into the hour—
into the year, and she is back at the beginning.
She picks up the thread of conversation and smiles.

 Aging Beautifully

After Memory, 1937, by Agnes Lawrence Pelton

Let’s take this apart, discover it,
wonder is for wonder :

A pure white vase over-
spills with rose petals, floating off.

The vase gleams from within
with contained light.

A new-born sea erupts from its base,
teeming with new realities.

The white vase becomes white heat
no longer able to contain form.

Was it always meant to spew roses?
Create stars? Why is it familiar?

Memory: white flare, white burst
of energy taking shape,
fragile with illusion . . .

Memory: Needing to find you
in the swarm of thought, even now
able to define me.

Memory: Contrived image now,
talking on its own memory. . .
memories . . . on and on . . . beyond mine. . .


An Inverted Terza Rima

Brush touches canvas. Something knows,  
or seems to know, what must evolve;
the mind envisioning a rose.

The artist knows what will involve          
the vision and selects pure white,
proceeding on this firm resolve.

Brush tries to bring the rose to life,           
turns shape and color to a smear,
turns early effort to a blight.
No brush nor artist can be seer.                     
The rose itself wants to be red.
The finished painting makes it clear:

Surely the canvas is to blame.                   
The white rose, sacrificed, and bled,
gives up its purity. It wanted fame.  

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine)



Rose I am,
here mid the stems and leaves,
the thorns,

the opening buds—
the dying others—
here among the winter roses
in the gathering flow of time.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Rose, and echoed rose, single-hued
in mirror-facing windows, where
the twilit glass mirrors her rare
garden roses—publicly viewed.

Her Silk Rose now takes all her care.

(first pub. in
Poets’ Forum Magazine, 2008)

Our thanks to Joyce Odam for the heady scent of roses in her poems and photos today! Her “Single Rose in Bud Vase” is a Quintilla: Five 8-syllable lines: ababa  |  ababb | abaab  |  aabab  |  abbab  |  aabba.  (See www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/quintilla-poetic-forms/.) As for her “White Rose, Red Rose”, the Inverted Terza Rima is based on the Terza Rima (popularpoetryforms.blogspot.com/2013/01/terza-rima.html), only it’s rhymed as aba | cac | dcd | ede | fef.

Our new Seed of the Week is Smoke. Write about smoke—lovely or lethal, memory or fear, cigarettes, forest fires, burnt toast—and 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.

—Medusa, dreaming of smoke and roses ~

—Painting by Agnes Lawrence Pelton
For more about Agnes Pelton and her work, 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.