Tuesday, March 26, 2024


 The Balance
—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
Sacramento, CA
—Photos by Joyce Odam
(After “Arctic Heart” Poem Cycle by Gretel Ehrlich)
—Joyce Odam

She is the dancer made of light.
He is the shadow to which she molds.
Both are the same movement,
entwined and separate.

Folds and folds of soft blue envelop them:
the sky and the sea; the blue earth into which
they evolve.

Softly the music follows like the echoes of old
voices, the lost sad cries, and the repetitions.

These are the hands of air reaching toward
other self—endlessly there; they open
and close like mouths of wordlessness.

This is the grope of silences worn over
hearts of joy and hearts of sorrow.
Nothing will ease the tension of love.
It is the dance.

She goes toward a motion in the dark.
He follows. It is another blue.
Another cloth of time.
It hangs still, then billows.

The living creatures of sorrow appear
and are vain. They want their turn.
They flow and lift in exquisite precision.

They steal the dance; and the ones
who cannot dance steal them.
It is an agony of souls
who have found each other.

Light is the ghost here, repeats itself
until the floating is memorized
and the sensation is known,
even as the next movement begins.

The blue cloth does not end; it is
the mother of weeping.
It contains all there is of invisible music
that comes from everywhere.

She is weariness that does not exist.
He is the alter-energy. Together they
form a continuation even as the stage
becomes what they escape from
and what they escape to.

Put the two bodies together now
before they dissolve past recognition—
blue ice and white ice—black ice—
the scar of their experience,
or is this only another recognition?

A ghost face with bleak eyes looks in to
the room where they dance. It is a dream.
The face is an old bone sculpture.
Its presence is inevitable.
They dance to it and around it.

Mirrors do not live here.
They long ago lost their meaning
became the continuous blue
through which another color insinuated.

Ache of cold waits for them to
end this futility; she will refuse it—
contorts to suggest the agony of self

There is a trust to remember;
it borrows light to repair light.
The curtain tears again.
Light will mend it.
Nothing pours in but more blue.
It is the music.

Love is the experience;
they give it to one another,
tell it again all winter, when time is a cave,
when there is nothing but
the one word to say to each other.

Now their motion swirls like echoes,
though they are motionless.
Light pours around them, melting.
The vast blueness extends beyond silence.
Time quivers and is gone. Applause.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 1/22/17) 
The Meaning

—Joyce Odam

arching past feathers
body strength
bird strength

of warrior
of dancer

arms stretch back
to become

head back
closed eyes
reach blue sky


—Joyce Odam

Woman sitting in the garden
in stippled light,
in artist pose.

The abstract light
plays with her face,
her thoughts, her clothes.

Nothing matters but the day
that turns. The hour

The garden whispers,
spreads its shadows,

—Joyce Odam

She is bending to smell a rose.
Will it allow her nearness?

Which is the most beautiful
to any admirer—

self to self—
or rose to rose?

Does the rose open fully?
Do her eyes close?

Will it dare to rain
and ruin her hat—fill the rose

with sudden raindrops
to hasten her away—splat, splat . . . ?

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 9/13/11;
5/8/12; 8/22/17)


(The Old Gods...)
—Joyce Odam

It is as quiet as the shimmer of gold.
And timeless. The moment holds :

A deer and a crow
looking at each other in a knowing.

There is no menace.
Why fear?

The old trees flex their shadows against
the golden patch of sunlight.

There is no evil.
Why fear?

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 11/26/19)

 It Was The Rain

—Joyce Odam

It’s all a blue measure, this pending in the air.
It’s in the swish of your heavy skirt
and the encroaching purple shadow
under the dark umbrella that you carry.

The weight of winter presses in
and you try to hurry,
though you have only to count
from one house to another.

Sounds crunch underfoot and
you almost wish for the wind to bring
its howling voice across your mind
which is going in such moody directions.

The windows
stare through you
and you
do not return the stare.

Habit sustains you.
Maybe the day will lengthen
and the light take on a late glow,
just enough to press against for warmth.

Maybe your shadow will still be there
if you turn around as if
to change your mind and go back—
a small defiance to make a turning point,

something to break the thaw of winter
in your heart—
a point you can win against . . .
regret is such a silly rule to measure by.


—Joyce Odam

And now the
      birds of winter
             oppress the sky,
                    where now,
                                  and how,
                                        can I fly

The Secrecy

Dear Sister,

Once again I implore you to remember me,
I am the one who conjured you, and now you
abandon me to myself.  

You will not share the mirror or the comb
when I look at you from the glass.

How have you grown so vague?—wavering
at the back of my mind like something denied.

I still own your existence. Why do you refuse
mine?  Our mother calls from the other room,
but I can’t make out which one. Why do you

smile at that?—suddenly here in a rag of light
that catches against an idle thought—just as if
there is only grief and love that binds us.

—Joyce Odam
 More Like Nighttime

Street Art by ana 9112.Brussels, Belgium
—Joyce Odam

Cowering now, wings folded, she waits for the
next need to move her toward night or toward
morning in the crevice of the hallway
of the white stone building
of one more desperation;
she shivers from the
feelings she
has found  
as if one more
unworthy love
has found her in
a moment of doubt
and transpired her from
the myths of herself to
the new reality. Now she
is left on a cold staircase
with a dream that will not waken.
The old shadow has pulled away
and left her timeless. She hugs herself
and waits, but something has forsaken her.
Maybe it will come to her before the need is
beyond redemption.


COMPONENTS (an acrostic)
—Joyce Odam

G od knows I wish I could 

E nvy without fault and
S ustain the mathematics of art
T o which my mind is ever at want—
A lthough I yearn holistically
L ike some Eureka! in the nick of time—
T hat knows my need and saves me.


—Joyce Odam

Walking around with walnuts in my hand
wondering what to do with them

beginning to cry
then stopping short of rage.

There are so many of them.

Too heavy to throw away.
There are no others.

Why must I have to decide
what to do with them?

Open them . . .
Throw them away . . . 
In Time 

now to remember
it was then and nevermore
ever shall I pine

gathering the cherry fruit
we were in the childhood then

—Robin Gale Odam


And, as Easter approaches:

(Hieronymus Bosch. The Adoration of
the Magi. Oil on Oak Panel. 1490-1500)
—Robin Gale Odam

His mother cannot keep him,
for the child king is of a splendor.

All will come to see, they will
come—the reverence in a white
raiment, the humble in a simple robe
of blood, the curiosity of innocence with
a shield of war at his heart, confusion
in a veil of hope, wisdom with gifts of
passion, and the donkey waiting in
the shadowed doorway

—also evil looking on, looking
out from darkness, watching from
the dark, and wearing a hunger.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Robin Gale Odam

I keep you because
if I let you go
I may have nothing more
to say.

(prev. pub. in Brevities, January 2020)


Joyce and Robin Gale Odam have walked the tightrope today (our last Seed of the Week)—their poems teetering on the razor’s edge of love and winter and darkness, and we thank them, as always, for their fine work.

Our new Seed of the Week is “Spring Chickens”. 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.

Be sure to check each Tuesday for the latest Seed of the Week.


And spring ducks, too... (can you see
the mother?)
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

A reminder that
Twin Lotus Thai Fourth Tuesdays
presents Frank Dixon Graham and
Anna Marie Sprowl tonight, 6pm.
For info about this and other
future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

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