Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Black Roses

Out of the Darkness
—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
Sacramento, CA
—Photos by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam

You have come with your gift of black roses
for my midnight joy. Now the house
is full of flowers that die after all,
no matter how I loved them.

All of my rooms are thick with their dying
and I am sad now. Flowers cannot
heal me, yet you keep bringing
these impossible black roses.

(prev. pub. in My Best Regret, Mini-Chap, 2008)
 Pretending To Be Real

—Joyce Odam

"Bird in silhouette against flare of light"
—Photo by James Ballard as seen in

Reflections On a Gift of Watermelon Pickle

O bird, in bird outline
O bird, in bird silhouette
O bird, in stark relief—
      that old thieved line

Around you, a rim of flared light
Behind you, a swirl of energy
Inside of you, the dark threat

Unreal or real, what
      has decided you?
Sharp beak and quiet eye—at rest,
      what has arrested you?

           …against swirl of energy
     …all light has suppressed in you
…self darkened to mere silhouette

A shadow-child might see you
      and think you tame.
A shadow-world might free you
      and release your name.
And I might rearrange the gathered
      instance of you to exclaim :

                 …reality is not true
         …imagination has its own view
 …no shape of fear is darker than you

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 6/15/21; 8/31/21; 

—Robin Gale Odam

iced coffee, a piece of empty paper

a candle flickers the dark morning,
little starvings—feeding the options

i saw the seabird in the sky above
the intersection—as in a pencil sketch,
there was only one



an old woman in white crossing the road, all night—to the rural mailbox to check for mail—her lost brilliance of mind but a reflection now in the occasional headlights that pick her out of the ghostly darkness, giving the driver a fright—but not her—so intent on her one errand. Somewhere her history rewinds itself like a book she might write, that might be scholarly, or surreal. What letter does she need to reclaim herself—the road too wide for her slowness—her frailty no match for the oncoming car that might drive through her, a disheveled presence escaped from a dream, or from the mesmerized attention of the driver.
 The Book

—Joyce Odam

Les Derniers Secrets by Claude Lazar

How the light follows the line of the hallway in a
long perspective; how it widens past the three open
doors, each room with no occupant; how time is
not the meaning here, or the consideration.

It is the green tone of silence, the meticulous gold
shine on the floor and walls, the darkness that
blends. It is the curiosity. If the three doors close,
where will the light go?

The photograph on the left wall is the only clue,
but it is hidden, seen only at an angle. The open
rooms swallow the pale defining light from the hall.
The immaculate floor swallows the dust. The ceil-
ings press and expand, as if breathing.

The photograph tries to remember—tries to re-
gather this is a new place, and it is of the old. What
does it know of now? Now is myth.

The dim hallway is content with its soft ambience.
The green tone of silence deepens as it turns the
hour from one tenor to another.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2/20/18; 8/23/22)


—Joyce Odam

Here is a man in a scratched-out opening,
a stick figure only—but there,

in a clump of despair. How is it
he has affected me so?

I care for him—
trapped in the crosshatch darkness.

I want the artist to release him—
captive to misery—unable

to back-out of the opening
or step forward into a positive dimension.

What do I recognize in him?
Is it myself—did I do this—give him

this hopeless suffering—why do I
linger at this page—as if only I can free him?

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 4/15/14; 3/29/16)
 Watching It


He tends the dying woman, gives her a name, gives
her a vision to hang on to the fraying thread that is
her life, medicates the space between, holds up a
mirror, then a curtain, touches her shadow as she
dies, a breaking smile between them as he closes
her eyes. He names her Helen, or Wife, or Myster-
ious Future-Being out of Grave-Fog, out of love’s
lost light. He names her perfect who never was

She ties him to her with a thread of painful light,
then a thread of darkness, weaving them intricately
and perfectly together until they knot. He sings into
himself, naming her name.

Eve, Eve, he sings, then weeps in a dry place which
he names silence, silence for her name to him, for
her importance to his effort. He never knew he was
so full of her life that she lays before him now like
an entrance. He fills his hands with hers but they
do not fit; they marvel away into her numbed sen-
sation, which is so real he cannot enter it.
 War Torn

—Robin Gale Odam

The night summons me in the
amity of darkness—I breathe a
question into this peregrine
complexity of time: “What is it
like when I cross your mind?”

deep is collective
whenever I look for you
one more memory

(prev. pub. in Brevities, 1/17) 
 As Is

—Joyce Odam

I come with a heavy word now
for your lonely mouth

the kiss is heavy too
and made of weariness

each gift is broken first
to give you perfect sadness

I put my hand across your eyes
to say my darkness

I lay my fever
underneath your touch

I cry gray laughter
for your ashen echo

I bring you everything I am
and call it love

(prev. pub. in Oregonian [Newspaper], 11/12/72 and
Medusa’s Kitchen, 8/27/13)


Today’s LittleNip:

then from deep of night
hunter’s moon with jupiter
red leaves on the ground

          —Robin Gale Odam


Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam have taken our Seed of the Week: Out of the Darkness to new heights (depths?) suitable for Halloween and for Día de los Muertos, and many thanks to them and to Joyce for today’s photos! Our new Seed of the Week is “Where Am I Going?” 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.

And don’t let your own ghosts spring Out of the Darkness and getcha…


 —Public Domain Photo

For upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page.

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

Find previous four-or-so posts by scrolling down
under today; or there's an "Older Posts" button
at the bottom of this column; or find previous poets
by typing the name of the poet or poem
 into the little beige box at the top
left-hand side of today’s post; or go to
Medusa’s Rapsheet at the bottom of
the blue column at the right
 to find the date you want.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
All you have to do is send poetry and/or
photos and artwork to
kathykieth@hotmail.com. We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!
LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope
(A cookie from the Kitchen for today):

what if
what if
what if . . .