Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter, Deep and Serious

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


I should be writing a letter to someone I love,
but today I fall short of love.

It’s winter—deep and serious—
deep as my mood, and serious as my intention.
I’m cold. I fear the length of everything.

Not even snow could rouse me from my stare today
—not even white-falling snow from these dark skies.

It’s dusk and almost dark enough
to lose the birds that window-swoop
across this dying day.
I love to watch them—how they take my thought away

…   all at once I remember a long white road of snow :
we were driving in it and could not see the line—
you with your head out the window on your side,
and I on my side, trying to find the center and the edge

—strange to remember now the florid lights
in the swirling air from a Christmas-window
in a house we passed. We walked back
and used their phone…

—strange how
all these words tonight
keep wanting to fall into a poem,
wanting to become familiar to someone,
wanting to become famous for their epiphany.


That day there was a storm—a quarrel
of sky and sea—a division of force.

The clouds broke, the rain blew down,
churned under, and belonged to the sea.

The sea gathered and rose into the sky,
but there was no taming of either.

We walked along that shore to feel the
fury—answer our moods—our silence,

building now to the clash of power:
one fed the other, the whole winter of us,

daring—and uncaring of outcome.
This was a love to the finish.



The gray light of a waking day, the world
in heavy balances—seasonal, sleep

hanging on
to yawn—

reluctant mind,

and eye,
unready to begin a new foray.

What winter does is let the mind delay
the gift of energy or downhill time.


The white dog in dull blue light may not remember
this captured hour—this hour of windmills at lull—the
far-away sea that sends its salt-tang over the drifting air. 

The white dog turns its head toward this thought and
seems to hear.  Slow blue clouds re-gather the heavy
sky—cumbrous with dying light.  Early shadows begin

to build and fill with moisture.  The white dog senses
these small changes and trembles with apprehension. 
The field widens off into merging edges where the eye

connects.  Dare we mention the distance here?
The dog’s attention is focused on a farther sound
than these near rustlings—the creak of the windmill

in a sudden nudge of air.  The low clouds thicken
and the salty sharpness brings the late gulls in
to circle and send their jarring cries out to each other. 

Dare we speculate on what we must decipher?
The white dog does not heed the obvious, but
looks off to the blurring edges of this closing hour.


From a soft distance I hear the old rooster
crowing again to the dark morning hour
and I listen awhile and
drift back to sleep
a few minutes
later and
wonder how
he can live to be
so old—these years and years
ago, and I hear the same old dog—
softly yelping in the same old distance,
and I sleep again and the same old rooster
keeps crowing till sunrise and I waken.


When the sun came out this morning, it burned a
hole in the sky and spilled its black ashes around,
and whatever dared to look at it was stricken with

stabbing color—rings of nausea—jagged patterns
of blindness.  The dark hole of the sky filled with
blessing—the light pouring in—in all its radiance.

When the sun came out this morning, everything
that was too fragile thrived then shriveled.
Be aware that this light is forever.  It borders the

cold world and the cold heart alike.  It wobbles,
then settles into a golden ring.  Bask in it…  bask
in it…  let it heal whatever can bear such healing.


I take the sorrow slow like a faded rose,
its petals dropped in a basket
for the room.

I taste the dark light
of another day 
too far away from myself now.

I watch the shadows pile high
before the window.
I am in here, tragic and alone.

I call no one. I am the lost muse.
I lay words about me like atonements.
There are so many.

I wait for roses to die.
I am metaphor to myself,

dark lyric, soon to be poem.


The silhouette of our front yard tree
reveals patches of mistletoe—
the fence rail cuts a line

across the lower branches, the sky
stretching into pale distance—
behind it, a flock of birds

flies out of the tree—everything
quickens for a moment, then
settles back as if it was all imagined


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

white trees made of ice . . .
white skies cold and deep . . .
the endless quiet snow that lies beneath . . .


A big thank-you to Joyce Odam for her deep-winter poems and photos as we creep toward the Winter Solstice!

Our new Seed of the Week is Surprise. December can be a month of surprises of all sorts—good ones and bad ones and those in between. So surprise me with 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.



 —Celebrate poetry—and more rain! 

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.