Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Roses in the Kitchen

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento

EARLY DARK                       

walking downtown
dark at six o’clock
a mild winter evening
just early enough yet
for hotel boys to be out
on roller blades and bikes
and lone men ambling by
with hands in their pockets
and you and I looking for
a restaurant we heard about
the car six blocks away
too late now I think of
the money in my purse…
stories of murders…
a dangerous world…

(first pub. in Parting Gifts, 1998-99)



You left no clue.  Strangers are rummaging through
your rooms.  All your mice are fat on leftover food.

Your windows stare—helpless without your eyes.

What was your hurry?  Who did you see pass by
that you had to follow?

Are you happy now?  Should we send your things?


When we are hungry
there is not enough food.

When we are hurt
there is not enough healing.

When we are lost
arrows mean nothing.

The lack is the lack and
there is no forgiveness for it.

(first pub. in Poet News, 1992)



are un-
ritualistic here.


No grace,
or conversation
to amount to


Like each day happening
without a death.

of preparation.

Putting the plates
on the table.
And the food.

The quick consuming.

with or without
a compliment.

Wiping the stove
and the counter.

Offering leftovers
to the refrigerator
like prayers
the future hunger.

the dishes.

(first pub. in Legend, 1972)


we will tear a rose
and devour it
for we are hungry
for certain tastes
and urgencies

we have been
away so long
sweet tongues
of the flowers

our lips
will be
pink with flavor
as we smile
through the half darkness
at each other

(first pub. in Arx, 1969; also The Rose-Eaters mini-book, 1972)


If I put two roses
in a half-crushed beer can,
leaning one out of each wedged hole,
it will be
some testimony of love
I have for you—
the grimmest beauty of myself,
strange sacrament,
because you know
how futile I become
when I would be most eloquent.
I would display
the bold arrangement
on my kitchen sill
to celebrate
the honesty of me.
Let the neighbors smirk.
I think I recognize such beauty
easier than they.
I like my symbols
rare and true—using
that we share and throw away,
its value taken.

And when I cook for you tonight,
dear tipsy lover
of my worth,
I may put
bright red petals
in our amber beverage,
and sweet rose petals
in our stew.

(first pub. in Ninth Circle, 1968)


take a rabbit from the wild
prepare it for the stew
which means of course
to kill it first
discard the hairy skin
dissect (I mean
cut into serving pieces)
put in a pot of water
add this and that
and stir and simmer
stir and simmer
till it’s tender



good fortune! good fortune!
over all the years

having eaten all the
Chinese dinners

to learn the reward
the good news

I am going to be happy
and prosper

the warnings are gentle
and surmountable

everything good
is coming to me

I can prove it
with little

strips of paper I have
saved for guarantees

(first pub. in Gallery Series/Four, 1970; also Dandelion Milk (mini-chap), 2002, Choice of Words Press/Brevities Series)

Today’s LittleNip:


full moon through bare trees
bright restaurant sign

slick yellow sidewalk
in the rain

gingko leaves:
small golden fans


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for a fine beginning to this December morning, and a note that our new Seed of the Week is December. What does December mean to you? Warm times with family, or cold winter days—the shortest day of the year, in fact? Send your poems, photos and artwork on this (or any other subject) to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs.

And please note that Sac. Poetry Center's Winter Party will be held tomorrow night from 6-8pm at the Millers' home in Sacramento. Somehow the address has been posted on SPC's website as 1231 40th St., but it's actually 1224 40th. Don't show up at their neighbors' home expecting a good time!