Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Only Here… And Now

Where I Am
—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
Sacramento, CA
—Photos by Robin Gale Odam
—Joyce Odam

With only words to say
what more can be saved.

One will not speak
and one will not say.

Another hour
has sighed away.

Eyes take turns

Nothing is so, so—so is
only part of the problem. 
 The Unfolding

—Robin Gale Odam

The journey to the edge of the water—
now the small boat, the churn of the river,

the pull of the current choking in the tangle
of roots—the choke of the river in the roots,
the rush of the sparrows—

wrap the blue sweater tightly—the fugue of
sorrow surrenders in the red mist of morning.


After Portrait of Leo Tolstoy in His Study
by Ilya Yefimovich Repin, 1891
—Robin Gale Odam

Should I go out today, I would take up my shadow
for a wrap and my volume of values for company—
we would take that one path and veer away from

Back in my study I would turn from the weight of
theory to the bottom of the page, and collect my

Only gravity would be weighed in, only one such
measure, and then I would collect my title.

On reflection, I would parlay my shadow and
translate my values, and then I would collect my

I would adjust the light and cast my shadow at the
door, should I go out today.

    cumbrous in the air
    gravity would fall to rest
    at the shadow’s door 
 The Bottom of the Page

—Robin Gale Odam

The old woman placed a saucer
for the cat and put on her street shoes—
leaving two open windows, for air and for
light, she plumped the pillow in front of the

game board and left the seven pawns
to atone. She opened the door to look for
her mother, to ask about the note she found
when she was ten—that she would return

soon, to finish the game—she took one
diagonal step through the doorway. 
 The Timeless Reaches

After "Anecdote of the Jar" by Wallace Stevens
—Joyce Odam

Every once in awhile I contemplate
on the jar in Tennessee.

Does it still stand there, amidst the wilder-
ness, left by the curiosity of the poet, left
there by some whim, such as I now have.

How long ago has it held “the now” on a hill—
I try to imagine it tall in the air, above its
loneliness, still thicker, all gray and to its
own history.

I imagine its strength of the darker gray and
stronger than time by now . . . I try to believe
the ice and freeze of winter works against the
time and its resistances of the timeless reaches.

Might I know how he could have left it there
in Tennessee. And had he even gone back to see
that it was there still. And maybe if the knowing
never gets to know the wonder of it at all.


—Robin Gale Odam

The cries of wind
tempered by cold of starlight—
strange homeland.

I am a stranger even to myself.

I pull the cover around me,
listen for harmonics. Tiny birds,
maybe three. 
 Scraps of the Day

(After "When I Met My Muse" by William Stafford)
—Robin Gale Odam

She finds me now and then—she holds
my name and rocks me when I’m dead.

Today a weathervane of tin, with hair of
clouds and voice of wind—she calls me

to the empty sky, for scraps of day to try,
for writing on the night when it should fall.

(prev. pub. in Brevities, June 2017 and
Song of the San Joaquin, Fall 2017)
I Go Deeper

—Joyce Odam  

Time is back. The woods
remember my memory. I was

a child. I knew every way. The
woods wrap around me now. I go

deeper. The same trees deepen back
the same way. I slipped and fell,

an old felled log with an old scold.
I am not hurt. The voices murmur me

through each wonder for where I am.
Far voices murmur through each

turn. And I wonder where I am.
I am only here. And now.


Today’s LittleNip:

After To the Forest by Edvard Munch, 1887
—Robin Gale Odam

I hold gently to death. He leads me
towards the tree shadows near the unfolding.
I wear my best transparency. He bears my name.

(prev. pub. in Brevities, June 2016)


Big thank-yous to the Odam poets today for haunting verse and photos to go with it! Our Seed of the Week was A Walk in the Woods, and they’ve taken us on such a walk, indeed, with shadows and old women and other beings, worldly and otherwise.

Our new Seed of the Week is “Toxic”. What are we talking about here? Chemicals? Cigarettes? Love affairs? 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. And see every Form Fiddlers’ Friday for poetry form challenges, including those of the Ekphrastic type.


"...surrendering the fugue of sorrow..."
—Illustration Courtesy of Public Domain

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