—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
—Photos by Joyce Odam
The cat has been stroked
and has left my lap to the
lamplight in the dark morning.
Hum of early traffic begins . . .
no . . . it is only an airplane drone
My pencil scrapes the page with a
strange sound—whisper of language
a pen does not know . . .
A thin whine in some far background
says, Here . . . Now . . .
in my ear only.
Shall I rise to the dark morning
and put all this away,
Now that morning no longer
belongs to me,
I am distracted.
But the words still compel me with their
illegible scribble; time is going,
and they accuse me.
Where is the comfort-cat now—
that silent shadow
of casual existence?
PICTURE A GRAY GIRL SITTING QUIETLY
Well, all is neat now in the tidied room, fringe
of a shawl hangs down in silky perfectness, she
is sitting upon it so carefully so as not to muss it;
she is reading a magazine with her eyes. She is
dressed in dark—she has not smiled today. She
does not know what to do with herself. An old-
fashioned radio on a small end table does not
seem to be playing. Everything is orderly. She
is pretending to be comfortable. It is 1937.
Small edges are squeezing in. She draws her
feet up. Her hand is resting on the edge of a page.
Her eyes are not noticing the subtle changing of
her timelessness. She is in profile to all that is
altering the room. Her mood is untouched by this.
She has created it.
—Robin Gale Odam
After Staircase de la Rochefoucauld,
France, by Leonardo da Vinci, 1517
In vivid percipience the spiraling floor
with doors to dark and night all naked,
with rooms in riddle for me to remember,
and the ceiling of helices calling me down
into the hallway—or into the past
of secrecy where I was born
when I was born in secrecy—
into the dark where I was born.
After Time and Eternity by John Haberle, c. 1890
Torn notes and one small photograph
—all thumb-tacked inside a frame
to mean what they mean.
Pocket watch full of lost time.
King of spades and nine of hearts.
A crude cross on a wooden-bead chain.
The watch says 2:27. It hangs on a nail.
The cross is a rosary.
The nine of hearts and king of spades
have no significance
out of the deck.
Bent nails stick up from their shadows
there used to be glass—
a wall of yellow—
the frame, a thick-door brown.
A tarnished plaque is tacked
at the bottom with some words
too faint to be read.
It’s all there
to be seen. And we look.
What is Art?
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen,
After “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock”
by Wallace Stevens
The word is disillusionment. Let’s study this.
Has it not to do with expectation, say, or
one’s ability to sort out truth from truth.
How variable is this? How does assumption
involve one’s relevance to random outcome?
Let’s say a color is involved. Say green to
replace white. Other colors come edging in :
purple rings, and blue umbrellas, as many as
you need for argument. Say time is involved—
a moment—to never. Some specific, some example
to garner arguments of reference. Night will do.
Ah, distraction. You’re good at this. Only envy
now remains, and not the ‘not’ of poems—
as if you could have written this—the old
sailor—the white nightgowns—the baboons,
the periwinkles—all the old originals.
Where goes the point of this? Put something
there and let us get to the tigers in red weather.
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 3/2/21)
—Robin Gale Odam
My pen is lost, somewhere in the
dark—the finest fine ink, for placing
the time signature, the note, the rest—
I write the song in dull pencil so as not
to rouse the cat, who would then meow
his song of hunger—he stares through the
window, keen eyes searching—he leaps
to the back of my chair, bites at my hair—
best not to rouse him—he flexes his
claws, bites at my pencil.
It will be Winter’s Berceuse—the blowy
wind is blowing, cold and melodic, the
wind of early winter—I draw the bass clef.
(prev. pub. in Brevities, January 2020)
THE MIND’S BITTERNESS
He knows the way of this travel—
this long stretch to somewhere
maybe a map he stole
from a rack of maps
—that had stood
of the mind’s
How know where to go?
But the map would tell him,
so he took seven pills and slept.
RUMINATIONS OF A MISANTHROPIST
Nothing wrought from memory feels true.
Take that love with all its loss and gain—
infatuation—love that is insane—
so much that ends with everything to rue.
The oldest invitations of allure
still prick at love until the passions blur
and retrospect is harder to endure.
Or would you let the passions have their say,
how they can make the willing heart obey,
with memory that makes a promise last
if you just let illusion have its way.
Obsession has a way of holding fast.
Never mind the ultimate remorse
when love bails out, preferring a divorce.
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 4/21/20)
My cat and I are listening to violin adagios.
I think he’s dying. It is mid-August,
a cool morning, no one home but us.
My cat is sleeping on my chair, the one
we fight over—his favorite—my favorite,
because it fits us both, and because
it’s mine, and because I let him claim it
when he imposes sulkingly—and
stubbornly, as I am apt to be sometimes.
But this is a quiet, still okay, morning.
I am fussing around, doing little things
to avoid the one thing pressing.
But we are listening to violin adagios
and the outer world is quiet so far—
no traffic—no voices passing by.
But he has not eaten—he has not
eaten—nor do I care to, and this is
just the right kind of slow-paced morning
that suits us both—my old Spirit cat and I.
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2/4/20)
chroma by sunrise
phantom in stained glass
interlude of fallen leaves
paragon of memories
—Robin Gale Odam
(prev. pub. in Brevities, January 2020)
Joyce Odam and her daughter, Robin Gale Odam, have written to us today about our Seed of the Week, A Peaceful Place, sending us messages of different places thereof. We thank them (and their illusive kitty!) for that. For Wallace Stevens’ “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock”, go to https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43429/disillusionment-of-ten-oclock/.
Our new Seed of the Week is “Brutal Weather”. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to email@example.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.
Kathleen Lynch, Laura Hohlwein,
and NSAA (Lawrence Dinkins)
will read at Twin Lotus Thai
Reservations STRONGLY recommended.
For info about this and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
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