Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Pastorals of Self-Deceiving

A Phase
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Brooding alone by a marshy pond. Sitting among the
shadows. A strange position. No grief but hers. Made
of love, hate, her thoughts trapped. A thicket-bird sings
out. Then another. Openings of light through the trees.
Shadows tangle in the undergrowth. Dense. Like sor-
row. Who will come, if not love. Repentant. Something
holds her. Small movements in the fetid water. Spears 
of water grass. Tiny nibbles of last sunlight. Water
circles pull at her foot. Her arms brace against falling.
The trees murmur, close in. Her body sags. Where is
the path? Does she care?

(prev. pub. in Nerve Cowboy, 2011)

 The Depth of Now


We were the grasshoppers,
lost in a summer fable.
We scorned the diligent ants
who bustled with temperate hungers
to chide
our transient appetites.

were all green translucence,
winged for each other.
And our ripe singing
chimed through days
filled with the squander
of all we needed

a twang of blue wind
stiffened the grasses
and snagged on thistle,
we hushed to the song of winter
and learned the first gnawing
of our last hunger.

 A Song—For All We Know


They live in mirrors and they know
the glass is of one depth
but many—

and they keep the land of image
in their grassy rooms
in pastorals of self-deceiving,

while they go in and out of time
like Alices
through dark imaginations.



this diamond fish
with his one centered eye
and his other eyes
out at the rim

this fish
in my glass
looking at me
from his own distance

wine-colored mouth
transparent body
of cut light

his one life
is in my innocent hand
i twirl him to watch him grin

but he is sober-eyed
looking at me
and from his little time
wanting to tell me something
from his mind

but i am watching him
with drunken eyes
and can only marvel
at his beautiful sad self

little mortality image
that i love
so holy and pure
created for the length of
a dark glass of wine
and one poem…

i take one sip
and cannot find him again

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 11/14)

 To Shine Inwardly


I sink back into tall green grasses.
A soft breeze bends the grasses over me.

Sky-clouds form,
and reform. Voices call my name—

my name that I do not want to hear.
I will not remember my name.

I am in my dreaming.
Awake. Floating in the sea of grasses,

I, and the motioning green shadows,
borne upon the width of forever.

I will never come out.
I am green grass and green shadow.

Even the sky makes room for me—
all energy—one wide presence

without form—
everything alive in my thinking.

A child wants to be alone with child-self. 
No voice. No calling.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 9/11)

 Easy Blues


In the waving of the grasses.
I sense the wind,
rather than the grass.

If movement is felt, then what
of stillness
that is not felt?

If I think in detail—ever in
a state of change, how can I trust
my own thinking?

In the waving of the grasses.
I sense the grass,
rather than the wind.

 The Meaning of It All


In the rich-blending odour
of the garden
where flowers vie for preference . . .

In the stimulations of the mind
for the immaculate view of white birds
ascending into a white sky . . .

In the icy feel of water on the hand
from a flowing stream where tiny fish
dart through your fingers . . .

How a taste will linger
beyond the
hunger for a food—as with a kiss . . .

How love only listens
for what it wants
despite the resistance of another . . .

How hard is this to realize
when all is nothing at the end of being
—a profanity to the mind

that cannot comprehend the sorrow
of the soul—or the figurement
of whatever god it needs    and refuses. . . ?


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Each night they share the chocolate—after dinner,
when they claim their separate chairs and prepare
for the boredom of comfort, when their differences
bring them together in the ritual truce of sharing
something rich and sweet.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her poems about our Seed of the Week: Diamonds in the Grass (love the lost summer days, the diamond fish, the green grass and green shadow), and for her beautiful blossoms with their priceless colors!

Our new Seed of the Week is Betrayal. 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.

This Thursday, 8pm, Poetry Night in Davis presents a short online poetry reading with Liliana Valdez, León Salvatierra, and Francisco Aragón via Zoom at https://ucdavisdss.zoom.us/my/andyojones/. Info: www.facebook.com/events/381797729388139/?notif_t=plan_user_invited&notif_id=15898278024437/. Host: Andy Jones.

For upcoming online poetry readings and workshops while we stay at home, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 —Public Domain Photo

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.