Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Who Should Be Afraid

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

—Joyce Odam

Don’t touch me.
I am not love.
I am grief.
I am alone in here.  
Don’t enter.

Stay, then, with
your melodious eyes
upon my lack.

Do not let me
tell you any more of me.
You are not my believer
you should fear the dark.

Why am I empty

when you are pouring

so much light in me?

(prev. pub. in Hart Senior Center Collection of Poems
Poetry Reading
, April 26, 1995)
 Fear As Rumor

—Joyce Odam

Danger followed us, I am sure.
Why else would I fear all secrets,
all telling, all revision of facts :

the where, the who, the when,
the what of questions?

Why else would I trust the
peripheral, the off-key,
the slant of words—
trust instinct over anything?

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2/5/13;


—Joyce Odam

Sing me no lullaby
to numb me into sleep
with treachery of dreams.

leave a light for me.
The moving shadows
have faces and eyes
and hands beneath my bed.
I cannot give my terror
words you chide away
with brief, indulgent laughter.
You warn me with your eyes
as you flick darkness
with your finger.

I do not know you
in some other room, some yellow
room my doorway hangs upon,
voice-swollen room where sounds
of your forgetting me
worry my sleep.

Sometimes the dark is you.
Sing me no bitter lullaby,
sleep frightens me.

(From My Stranger Hands by Joyce Odam, 1967) 

—Joyce Odam

Mother, I have learned how to hide.
I know where the shadows are.
I know where the light
shifts past.

I know how eyes
will follow such stealth as ours.
I have learned to tear evidence
of our existence.

I have learned to creep down
stairs in silence.
I have learned to stay silent
behind doors.

I have learned to veil the face
of all emotion.
I have learned that tears
are the confessions of fear—

that danger is always disguised
in the gentlest of eyes—
that no one loves us for long.
I have learned to leave

at a moment’s notice;
to go into the soft closing air
of disappearance, leaving only
a burning-dish full of wet ashes.
 Fear Of Love

—Joyce Odam

We are the last emotion
of the mind.
We tremble where
the stillness of the eyes
burns on the face. We touch
where flowers wait
our murmurings.

Forever seems a promise
we can mean.
Sweet vows, like petals,
squander from our stems.
We are the warm winds

Our green veins
throb the length of love.
Our fingers shape to leaves.
Fire sings where we have learned.

But we are rooted now, and deep
as two decisions flowing,
wrist to wrist,
to share the full commitment
of ourselves.

The earth is rich with us.
And for the gentle tyranny
of first demands
it gives back seasons.

My Stranger Hands by Joyce Odam, 1967)
 Fear Of Night

—Joyce Odam

many powers move us and delay us
create any change for misery or gain

whatever resists
may be healed or destroyed

shadows crawl into other territories
suggest a fear made obvious

what does the dark bring—
something is always there

what is safe for the wary—
an echo lasts forever—

still sounding
from the long effort of listening.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 9/3/13)


—Joyce Odam
Let us now remember
the city
which is dying
amid its streets and buildings,
its glinting glass and broken shadows.

Its lost humanities
are still trying to survive
their suffocations.

Let us undo the begetting of walls
and the paranoia of closed doors.

Music still blares where silence cringes.
Faces still glare toward each other.
Sirens still rush to emergencies.

Mannequins break out of store windows
and cars run into each other.
Authority signs point everywhere.

Let us now seek
the impoverished of spirit
the ill of mind,
the money-minders,
and ask them to give us back
our mercy
and give them our fear
in return.

Let us now have
from the center.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 5/24/16) 
 Fear Of Fear

 —Joyce Odam

The birds fly over this disconnected world.    
There is a map in the air
but no candles for the windows.

Time represents our confusion :
how can the birds save us?
Symbols are failing to be truth.

We watch with hope and fear
we are ever at the mercy of . . .
what will become of us . . .


oh, what will become of us :
time represents our confusion
that we are ever at the mercy of.

Still, we watch—with hope—and fear,
with no candles for the windows.
There is a map in the air

and birds fly over this disconnected world,
but how can the birds save us
when symbols are failing to be truth—


symbols—failing to be truth—
yet we watch, with hope and fear.
Time represents our confusion :

how can the birds save us?
There is a map in the air,
but no candles for the windows.

We are ever ‘at-the-mercy-of’ . . .
and birds fly over this disconnected world.
What will become of us?

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 7/30/11;
2/7/17; 10/3/17; 7/6/21)
Looking Deep

—Joyce Odam

We’ve come to love the travel of the mind
where we can marvel and blithely wind

through purple hills that stretch as far
as they really are

and not ever go near them;
actually we fear them—

how one could get lost in such empty reaches.
And I prefer beaches

where the shore continues as far as light can
clear into that flat and seamless time

when the long day’s sun goes down—
then mosey back to some nearby, noisy town

for seafood, where candle-glow windows face
the sea.
I’d gaze at you—you’d gaze at me—

make ready, then, for some music and dancing—
even some romancing.

But, I’d rather just stay put and dream about all this.
So, goodnight, my old dear.  Sweet dreams.  
Kiss Kiss.


—Joyce Odam

Dear God, thank you
for being.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 5/9/23)  


Today’s LittleNip:

—Robin Gale Odam

Who should be afraid of the
one who would write your story—
author with eyes the color of stone,
pen point dipped in the wine of the

I drop ice into the glass, open the
window for the old cat, slip into the
chair before the night sky, take up
my tablet.

Who should be afraid.

(prev. pub. in
Brevities, December 2019)


Fear—our Seed of the Week—has brought an avalanche of images from Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam, and we thank them for their talk of shadows and nightmares and . . . well, I leave it to you to immerse yourself in this fine poetry and Joyce's photography. Joyce, by the way, wins the award for the most republishing of poems—her “The Mercy Birds” has appeared in the Kitchen four times, a wonderful use of Medusa’s previously-published-is-okay rule.

Our new Seed of the Week is for the season—“Out of the Darkness”. 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.


 —Photo Courtesy of Public Domain

A reminder that
Twin Lotus Thai Fourth Tuesdays
has featured readers tonight, 6pm.
For a list of those, plus info about
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LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope
(A cookie from the Kitchen for today):

black stallions
at midnight—
dark thoughts:
wild horses
out of control!