Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Like Spilled Salt

Almost Like a Whisper
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Not about—not about—just of.  Just essence; slant; 
suggestion.  I want the eloquent waves of thought
to wash over me and leave their dissolving words . . .

No.  That won’t do: I want a flat white screen of
sky, and a white floor made of air; I want to
drift there as unspoken thought; I want to
fall as white rain among the sorrows
and the solitudes—touch
every face as
tears . . .

that’s not it. 
I want a cave to hold me . . . 
I will sit at its dark table and
write whatever dark words come
to me.  I am sad, and that is enough
to be.  I will say that to you, if you are listening.

 Just to Say


A flaw in the pa.per.
Now you understand me.

I mean what I say.
I draw another word.

You eavesdrop,
rephrase me.

Now I am secretive,
say chartreuse

before you do;
say purple

instead of lavender.
You correct me.

I put a pe.riod
in the middle

of a sentence.
You inter.rupt me.
(first pub. in Bogg, #71)


trying to write a poem

all words    nerves    sounds
all wounds that make
to be,   
to make,
to do, and undo,
until the poem is made . . . .
now these words fall into their
graces—and become—and love
themselves—and their
of eyes—
pages on pages of words . . . .



toy them around like spilled salt
on a table, lick your finger and say, See?

Only now, your silence hurts. Not even
echoes now, like a light gone suddenly out.

Not enough bandages for all your hurt,
your mouth twisted into old perceptions.

Stale as the last swallow of wine in a glass
from the night before. Sour now.

Tired and sour. Never forgive each other.
Fuel for love.



To note a scribble on a page
and deplore that scribble
as a spoilage of intention,
or accidental blemish—

or some perfection unexpectedly
as holy words are loved—
words you read as wisdom,

and then to ponder them as willful,
as defacement,
followed by
a second-thought reaction :

should you erase them,
leave them be,
white them out, if ink—
or trust as something learned,

a thought-barrier of interpretation,
the otherness of it—apart from you—
or sense the bemusement that you
might be the one who put them there.

 Happy Birthday, Grandma!

(after “Etude” by Ted Kooser)

sparrows maybe
as tiny savants of distraction
and be so led

from ground
to tree
through air

at disturbance
or some nervousness of

at one with survival
and I

merely watching
enchanted by their quickness
their disinterest in me as foe

as threatening presence
as anything at all other than
shape or movement

so I keep a patient stillness
to give them no reason
to fly from me



All these lines—the sea too far away—
and still I write of summers that were mine
and watch for seagulls’ silver-textured climb
and on my face, still feel the ocean spray.

I used to hate that chill of winter gray
that wrapped itself around my restless years,
the ones I filled with childish tantrum tears,
the ones I feel still burn my face today.

I wanted summer back with summer’s play.
I still can feel the sharp, salt-heavy air
while walking to the far end of the pier.
Winter was a tedious delay.

For all those times I walked along its shore,
I want the sea to love me as before.

(ca. Sunday, July 2010)

To notice things of the
moment—things of the world
that become poems out of
the simple act of attunement :

what comes together
at a realized awareness—
something that strikes us
as profound—

or beautiful—that we ache
to share. And we write
the poem to keep for ourselves
and give to another.


“What a mighty voice it requires in the poet, to 
keep his lines strange, and rolling like waves, 
and brave like the sun.”    
                              —John Crowe Ransom

These words that celebrate from me,
these words that grieve,
these words that sing or weep . . .

These words that come from their
own places—of their own volition,
that I take, and call them mine . . .

How they cluster—how they form—
too fast, or too resistant—depending on
their own need or inspiration . . .

Which of us needs the other more—
my reach, or their release. Oh, Words,
words—we are the path to one another.
I will write while you speak.

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine, 1998)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam
Let it be new to your heart, and old
to your mind—long-hidden—seeming new.

Let it be meant to be unforgotten
for it is as true as new discovery can be.

Let its words be easy on the eye that sees them
and the voice that reads them out loud.

May you recognize it and receive it with
gratitude. You alone can receive it.

And if it comes to you, and you let it go,
it will be mourned, for it will never be.

(first pub. in
Senior Magazine)

Many thanks to Joyce Odam for her poems and pix today! She used the recent Seed of the Week, Paperwork, to be about the paperwork of writing (see last Sunday’s poem by Billy Collins). Joyce’s “Lines for an Old Memory” is a Kraeft Sonnet: abba abba cddc eee/. To see Ted Kooser’s “Etude” and a writing exercise based on it, go to creativitygoeswild.com/2011/06/14/letting-yourself-be-surprised-by-your-writing/.

Our new Seed of the Week is Paradise. Paradise is in the eye of the beholder, yes? Tropical beach? Cabin in the woods? Or just home with a book? Send your poems, photos & 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.


 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate the paradise that is poetry!

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