Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stone Songs

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

After Internet Word of the Day:
Hemidemisemiquaver (in music, a 64th note)

Today is a day for silly-isms—
like peas in a pod—and nitty-schisms,

any plipplop—or slipslop—
        to rhyme with each other,
like ‘mother and ‘nother—
        like ‘fahther and ‘dotter,

with eyes in a glaze
       let’s praise all the ‘says’  
               that get stuck on a thought

—replaced by a gibbering tongue in a knot—
       of foolish and silly, to fill space un-til-ly
the mind finds its reason and says it forgot.


From “Knitting Café”, Facebook

Grouped in variegated dresses from
head to foot, the women
of the Busy Bee Knitting Club

are showing off their art—
even to their knitting needles
stuck into knitted head-coverings

with knitted braids—clear down
to the knitted fringe that covers
the tops of their shoes—their eyes

all a-twinkle through outsized
eye-glasses, and baubles on knitted
chains that dangle from each neck.

“Knitting   keeps   our   hands   busy,”
they giggle when
the photographer says “Cheese.”

 Sunlit Edges


The way everything changes color
when you look at it again, like shades
of turning light on the second day of spring,

like old moods gone crazy, becoming
new moods : a boy holds a colored scarf
in his mind, it flickers orange, then blue.

His small dog dances on hind legs;
rain patters around them
and bounces off his green umbrella.

Under his feet a small lake forms;
his shiny yellow boots
stand upside-down in the water

and he is happy.  A mauve shadow
passes over and becomes a menace.
The boy is stuck in his puddle

and the small dog is barking.
The boy holds a purple world over his head
and looks for an opening in it.

His face is turned away to his new divining.
Somehow the day contains all this on a
single page; it flutters loose

then turns into a small paper boat that drifts away…
like the wish… like the dream… 
like the play come true in the small boy’s mind.



It was your easy voice with the smooth edge, not
ragged like mine; mine was torn like a sheet of
paper. What was torn away was important, but
became lost—what I never found again, like the
right words. How could I trust you, you were per-
fect, like a mirror. Still, I could not give you my
eyes—too adoring—too shy, like a first crush.
The effect you had on me was numbing, like my
futile admiration. In bringing myself to you—a
torrent of hard rain driving me to your door—I
spilled what I carried, dropped my chances like
fine china in clumsy hands. Where would you
put me in the sanctuary of your house—stuck with
me—your apologetic guest—some great storm out-
side my heart, roads washed away, bridges down?
And the storm never let up. How I compared myself
to you—postured and mocked myself into a carica-
ture for your recognition. And you came to love me,
and I came to deserve you . . . you tell me . . .you
tell me.

 The Hidden Blue


for what they are—they are words.
I never meant to say them,
but the brokenness was there
and the heart replied—spilling like blood.

I emptied. You recoiled.
Turned white as my mirror.
I died then, in a rage so beautiful
I took it as a life lesson.

When silence does not work—when
patience does not work—when lies
and truth are stuck together like an
explanation—words tangle together

so beautifully they do their terrible
work despite all repercussion—
silence as aftermath—purified and calm,
the rage-heart beating again.

 Ever So Blue


How can I sing now, with my voice all broken,
stuck in my throat like a stone—my poor throat,
closed against song—damned against music.

All my life, I have sung and loved my singing.
Then one year (or many) a great sadness
came along—sat in the way of my song—

sat there—silently brooding—sat there,
year after year, then finally went away,
but took my singing.



Come help my heart lift its burden.
How heavy I have become,

now that I am cry, unuttered,
now that I both feel and cannot feel,

now that I am wordless, emotion only,
stuck in my own throat,

now that I am deaf and blind
and dumb in this unfamiliar grope,

now that I am stone—
pluck out my heart.

 Last Night's Flower

After Joanne Peltz, Altar of the Son (watercolor)

Everything melts here, even the colors of love diluted
by betrayal—all the wants and losings—this
is an altar to relinquishment.

Illusions smear in mirrors. Sacrificial birds that could
fly are mired in the confusion. Terror beats its wings
against the tangled light.

Even reverential joys succumb to a safe melancholy.
Some come with prayers and leave their words
to blend and lose their meanings.

Even beauty must be left in revelatory mirrors to die.
And even you who come to lay your broken heart
on the marble ledge and watch it tremble

must honor your despair. Why should I watch this
any longer. I have nothing more to leave. It is
all surrendered. It is all there.


After King Arthur statue by Rubin Eynon,
Tintagel Cliffs, Cornwall, England

Hollow as air.  Illusion?
Heat shimmers through.
Specter of something once
a man. Sea at a distance—
sky flat blue. Warrior sword
stuck in the sand. Cowl-hood
pulled low. No face. No body.
Silence caught at the place of
no heart. His long cape time-
shredded to a rag.  His hands
at rest on the head of the sword,
holding his balance from a sag.
A grain of memory slipping
through—his or mine—what
does he wait for—if not some
other time?  It should be mid-
night. The day is blue. He is not
diminishing from unearthly form.
Nothing of death is tended to.
I am not moving from the scene.
I am still waiting for a clue.
I am still wondering what to do.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

She goes as far as she dares—then retreats.

She knows when to strike and when to pull away—those
marvelous curses, under her breath. (He, deaf.) The childish
faces—her tongue stuck out. The tense posture. The deep
scowling. Her hands in fists.

She’ll make him pay for this, whatever it is.


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s take on “Stuck”, our Seed of the Week. Our new SOW is “At the Fair”—big fairs, small fairs—plenty of sights/sounds/memories there, yes? 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 of others to choose from.

And my apologies to Carl Schwartz (“Caschwa”) for mislabeling his unicorn photo yesterday, saying Ann Privateer took it when really it was Carl.


Celebrate Poetry!
King Arthur's Statue, Tintagel Cliffs, Cornwall, England
For more about the statue that inspired Joyce's poem, go to 

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.