Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Something Like Contentment

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


a day of gray
no rain
the green leaves flutter
on the nervous tree

I feel the gray air

I feel my breath escape
but not me

I passed a dead cat
this morning
by my gray car’s wheels—

a glance only—
quick as its death
its mouth was bloody

my life is in this drama—
broken piece of  myself,
another whole piece, center—

when I drive home today
I will have forgotten
the dead cat . . .
the nervous tree . . .
the omen in the flat gray air . . .

maybe it will be



Where is the rain they said would come:
2:37 in the morning and I am still awake.
The night is dry and still.

Only the house creaks with restlessness.
Silences move by like shadows
though I listen hard.

Trees do not shake their branches
though it is December.
Leaves do not fall.

Why is the year so quiet tonight:
I hear the pending—
it is like my breathing, so loud with sighs.

I thought a little rain
would be nice to help me sleep—
even this pen, loud across the page, agrees.

THE RAIN            

I would belong to the rain
but the rain has vanished
to its own season.
Where is the memory of such need.

When I was in the desert
crying all the dry words that I knew
the rain was far away and different.
I was a delirious shimmering.

Now I am in another need.
I am the only child of my only mother.
She has died and left herself alive in me.
I weep under the absence of the rain.
I cannot taste my grief.

When I am sad enough to heal
I will drape my house with
the sound of rain upon cold things
that hold and echo back,
all night in a dark imagining of this,
the force and resistance
that is in every grieving.

(first pub. as “Rain” in Bitterroot, 1990)

After “The Message of the Rain” by Norman H. Russell

Anywhere there is rain after a dry day of
long hot hours, with the slow clock
turning on its upside-down numerals,
as if time made no sense at all
and has forgotten
how to read or hold onto its private reasons
for winding around like that.

I would like to fill the town with rain,
for I like that sound,
and the wetness and the coolness,
and how it suits my thought of it
in summer, which has grown
long and tiresome, and I feel heavy as a stone
at the edge of watering, and all the
trees are dusty and whispering for rain.

After "Woman in Purple", Photo by Cristina Venedict

Three stone steps lead up to a wide door. A woman in pur-
ple guards the stairs and the door. She has been hired for this.
She holds the secret word that must be said if you think you
know the conundrum.
A woman in a long purple gown and long black hair is sitting
upon the bottom stair of three. She is not of this time. She
feels this is her home. She will not leave. She opens her arms
wide and rests them on the second stair.
At first the wide gray stairs were empty.  The heavy wood
door would not open.  The tall dry weed at the left corner
of the building keeps scratching a groove in the cement
siding. The woman sits there now, in the purple twilight,
even though it feels like rain.
This is not even a house. This is a façade from some beginning. 
Time leads away from it. It stands alone on the back supports.
The woman in purple seems to have faded into the closing
On closer look, one can see that the woman is painted there.
She has no expression. She has no season. She is the perfect
ending to a book, or the beginning of the next. Let us have
no more conjecture here. This is only the particular shadowings
of light and dark that form together, as are we.


It is a road of light, going nowhere now;
to follow it is to become absorbed;
it dwindles out into a tired memory;

the house at the end has fallen in;
the tree has died,
and bones on the end of a chain gleam;

but the road shines with light
and you want to follow;
a bird sings out and you know

you can be happy there;
a smooth horizon trembles down,
flaring back for a moment along the road.



The rain is streaming . . .
or else I’m dreaming . . .
       that almost-sound upon the pane—
       that soft wet sound that wakens me
       to such relief—it must be rain.
I lie, half-sleeping,
my soul in keeping,
       and feel some movement whisper by . . .
       some breeze that rustles in some tree . . .
       dry lightning-crackle in dry sky . . .
and   d i s t a n t     t h u n d e r . . .
I go back under. 

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine, 1997-98)



Blue mottled street
or so
smearing down
to the pavement
the light
begins to shift into gray,
fusing with the grainy dawn.


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for sending us these fine poems and photos this morning! And our apologies to Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) for failing to put the “Whisperer” in the title of his “Cloud Whisperer” poem in yesterday’s post.  @#*&^%!!!

If you’d like to try a Wavelet (see Joyce’s “Sleep Break” above), here’s the pattern:

Iambic 12-line stanza, alternating
couplets and tercets (indented). Five-syllable
couplets in dimeter  with feminine endings—
tercets in tetrameter with masculine endings:

Syllables:  5, 5,   8, 8, 8,   5, 5,   8, 8, 8,   5, 5
Rhymed:   a  a    b  c  b    d  d    e  c  e     f  f

Our new Seed of the Week is Mysteries of December. 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 plenty to choose from.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

It’s rain—and rain again—from
Sunday to Sunday, the long skies
let down their grieving,

or is that only what we name it, for
some look out of windows and sigh—
and are enclosed in a sort of

something like contentment.


 —Anonymous Rain Photo
Celebrate poetry! 
And head up to El Dorado Hills tonight, 5-7pm, 
for Poetry Off-the-Shelves at the El Dorado Hills library. 
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.

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