Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Black Beads in Winter

Let’s Go There
—Photos by Joyce Odam

* * *

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

Black ribbon-clouds
cut the sky

Trails of heartbreak
twine through mountains

Ice crystals before sunrise,
memory at low hills

Through tangles of branches,
the tailwind of a storm

—Joyce Odam

I wear black beads in winter.
Am I sad?

I wear the black of ceremony,
dimensionless and closed,

a privacy—
a sentimental flaw—

or just a grief,
too long refused.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 5/15/12) 
 Better To Have Loved

—Joyce Odam

I remember the world
of seven to eight—
the Home—

where you left me, Mother,
to redirect our lives
without Father.

I remember the rules
to fit me in with the others—

abandoned, I thought—
and learning the tics of childhood,
I wet the bed

and was taught by
impersonal punishments to grow shy
and ashamed

and obedient.  I remember the
waiting-hall where I sat on the floor,
to be invisible,

sucking my bottom lip to rawness;
and the long communal tables
of the dining hall

where we ate together,
none sibling to another,
but where one girl

had a bottle of catsup that was
all her own, that she shared
when I asked for some.

And the territory
of the playing-room
with the individual cubicles
for our individual belongings,
and how I envied one exotic girl
who was Indian, she said,

and who had a coveted box of beads
that she would string
and restring into necklaces.

(prev. pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine, 9/96)
 Peace That Surpasses Understanding

and now it rains

—Joyce Odam

upon a place of never ending drought
falls into cracks of earth
rolls down the backs
of cattle
and polishes
their long curved horns
glossing over
the naked body of the child
who dreams the rain is real
who makes it rain by his imagining
the rain is gray—thick and gray—and dry
and is not a mirage
only the dusty
long-imagined rain
dreamed by the native child
who wears but a string of beads
and cannot remember rain
the dust kicks up as the milling herd
tramples the silt with their restlessness
the child is an icon now
barely seen through the raising of the dust
and the cow he strokes so solemnly
bows her head into his touch
Silver Heart

—Robin Gale Odam

she woke and thought about color,
considered the brushes and the palette—

she felt for the silver locket at her neck,
chose sorrow for the shade of the day,
curled into her blanket, closed her eyes


After The Plumed Hat, c. 1919, Henri Matisse

Too young for such a hat
this ingénue sophisticate

stares long into herself,
changing the expression of her face

to suit the feather—brim,
and lace—liking the way

it tames her hair
and makes her see

her self—

in voile dress
laden with beads—    

the listening way
she stands

and stills her hands
and fills the mirror with her eyes,

seeing Her…   Her…   Her…
in such a hat.
Always And Forever

—Joyce Odam

If you see me as beautiful, know I am real,
I am tattooed to enhance my beauty,

I wear a gold ring in my nose
and a silver one in my lower lip.

I wear a spiked bracelet around my head.
I braid beads into my hair.

I carry this branch of tree-life in my hand.
Every talisman has its power.

I am the daughter of the sky
and of the stricken land. We accuse you.

You see love in my eyes.
You see my mouth does not open to speak.

I am female.  
I forgive nothing.

I may love you, but I love my beauty more.
It is my own.

You may desire me,
but that would be your sacrifice.

Animal soul and tree soul imbue me
The elements nourish me.

I am deathless now. Would you hold me?
It will take more than that.  It will take more.
Words To Murmur

—Robin Gale Odam

He took the best of her poetry
with him—he is gone away

She can barely remember—
there are stuttering consonants

and vowels unfolding,
the pencil in the heavy green jar

and the dry paper with curled edges,
and the little box of matches

and the candle blown out—
she cannot fathom the ache in her

bosom, the mark on the calendar,
the cold diamond on her hand


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

by dark waters of daylight
long summer sea-edge
and clockless-ness

mermaid child
never again
to know tears

those bright beads
never to reach the end
of this continuous beach

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 9/3/19)


Our Seed of the Week was Jewels, and Joyce and Robin took the challenge and ran with it. Many thanks to them for today’s fine, moody poetry and for Joyce’s photos!

Our new Seed of the Week is, in fact, “Moody”—whether it’s you or your cat or the weather or…? 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.


 The Plumed Hat
—Painting by Henri Matisse

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