Tuesday, July 12, 2016

To Meadowlarks Everywhere

—Poems, Artwork and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


             for Ann, singing in the echo chamber

You were that singer in echo chambers.
How fully your voice rose in all the
corridors and rooms and turned back
at the windows which were closed,
coming back to you where
you were still

I think your
voice filled with
waterfalls, and your ears
became sea shells, and your heart
roared with climbing, for you had entered
the old perfection, which was always yours.



              for Ann

A white cat in the alley
on top of a black car
guided our way out
through the narrowness
where imagined whores
invited us
into their real arms.
Three houses down,
the volley ball net
someone had stretched
across the alley
laid claim
to this summer night
and blocked our way.
Your tiny house
pulled back to let us
turn our car around.
We tried three times
before we got it right.
Your blue car
when we looked back.
Your alley shadows
quickly covered
where we were.
A laugh or two
spoke out,
then all turned black
just as we found
the left turn
that we took,
a pitted path
that slowed us
even more.  Behind us
we could feel
the white cat
close its eyes
and start to purr


The night fish
swim in their dark pool
and are lovely for

as I imagine them
nudging to the surface

then drifting back down
in pattern 
after silver pattern

with only
the bright moon
to illuminate them until morning

when they
become just part of the
rippling movement of the shadows.



(After Anna Akhmatova, Poems             
Selected and Translated by Lyn Coffin
“…she simply recognized grief.”
From the Introduction (xxi) by Joseph Brodsky)

Our little song of grief—how can we bear to sing it
any longer; your voice goes thin with fright—

mine changes timbre;
why should we harmonize away this night?

Oh, Dearest, such a rage of sorrow do we know,
though time has softened us.

Look how the light touches the sill a little less
and yields to shadows—ominous.

Oh, Pale One, draw the shade against it all;
let’s hold each other while we can.

I fear the knocking at the door
for what wants in.


This full moon—low enough
to pluck from the reeds
of this small stream
that settles
the heavy day
dragging itself down—
down—through the rising reflection



It is always
mad on Thursday, Ann.

The end of seven days
is near
and the fear begins.

You turn your mixer on
for Margaritas
and gimlets
and other clever drinks
to save yourself.

And now
your booze is gone.
You call me
so that you won’t die.

“My eyes are wet,” you tell me
 through a laugh.
“I know,” I say;
“they call it sadness.”

You read three poems
made of three disturbances.

My ground-beef sits in the kitchen
by the stove,
the burner on.

I catch your mood
and promise to pour
myself a drink
when I get off the telephone.

I do.
And now I peel
this hot, sad onion
and match your eyes
and write this poem.

(first pub. in BOGG, 1989)


now when he sits across the table from you
in the red velvet lounge
he looks around the room to find out
if he is important you are telling him,
look, I have this rose
growing in my stomach like a
child its thorn is killing me

um hum, he smiles,
right at you
since he thinks that that blonde is watching
and you tell him about the way
the black leopard you have brought
keeps tangling its ribbon under your chair
and that its gold purring
is driving you up the wall
since you
cannot stand purring
and he nods his ripply gold smile
and purrs yes at you

and you tell him you have brought
poison to put in his soup
and he throws back his head
so his favorite laugh can tickle the room
and you die a small regret
right there in front of him
to make your point
and looks at you wise and says, really?


              for Ann, who said this…

And she said to the geese,
Why won’t you move your wings . . .?
And she held her camera still for them.

But they waddled away from her,
two lovers who would not model, though they posed
in the center of sunlight, bright and gleaming.

Fly . . . ! she laughed, Fly . . . !
But they only stood with their necks together and shook
the impudent feathers of their tails.

So she snapped her last frame of film, and they
raised their unanimous wings,
and then—in a running start—they flew across the yard.


oh, bird

oh hidden bird

this summer night

I listen for you

with such a painful joy

of lost and wanted happiness

I listen for you

with such full listening

it almost hurts

to feel

what I feel

at the fullness of your singing


Today’s LittleNip:


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.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poems and photos, about which Joyce says: "My offerings today are my heart's dedications to Ann [Menebroker] . . . Like strewn rose petals, Or tear drops scattered on the path of mourning . . . How fragile they are to our grieving . . . She is my 'original poet' friend. We were fledglings together. We were so connected in so many ways.  I shall miss her always, and love her always."

Joyce and Ann began their poetry journey together back in the ’60’s, where they met at a poetry class and formed a fast friendship which spanned more than fifty years and many adventures. Their poetry, as you may notice, went in very different but very interesting directions, and both were devoted to it and managed to be widely published right up until the present. Thank you, Joyce, for sharing this work today.

Our new Seed of the Week is Friendship. Send your poems, photos and 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 more SOWs than you can shake a pencil at. At which you can shake a pencil...

 Celebrate Poetry and Friendship!

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