Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Landscapes of Difficulty

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

Today I shall not be pleased.
Don’t praise me.

Your words are straw
for a dry earth.

Bring me a river to follow;
bring me a wild strawberry
from a mountain.

I want your eyes to say
something to my heart.
I want your hands to pray for
the soft, erosive earth
of my body.

I want you to touch my mind
with easiness.

I am so tired.
I have been through such places.

Landscapes of difficulty
are everywhere.
They impede me.
They change into wilderness.

Not that wilderness
displeases me
for its own sake,
but I will not be pleased today.

(prev. pub. in Negative Capability)
Where The Trees Are


and on the landscape
the birds are singing
invisible in the trees
it is morning
and the sharp songs are everywhere
the sunlight cannot find them
though it looks and
quickens the shadows
of things that are growing

the singing of the birds
is like shouts of diamonds
celebrating their voices
the green leaves
answer with
swift protective flutterings
within which
the diamond birds are hiding

and in the center
of the landscape
a man in a pair of shorts
is sitting on a chair
that is growing from the earth
his body made golden by the sun
his soft hair lifting to the light
and he is sitting there
in all that sound
reading the newspaper
—Joyce Odam

(prev. pub. in Jam Today, 1977;
and Medusa’s Kitchen, 4/30/19)


—Joyce Odam

how come you flutter to me
on stone wings

am I sky, am I broken earth,
are you pleading for flight,

or will you fall awkwardly
and break into pebble pieces

shall I feed you to water
who never loved the air

shall I protect you finally
in my brimming hand

that could never
touch you soon enough

—Joyce Odam

The red horse ridden by a red-garmented rider hold-
ing a yellow flame aloft—bright enough to light the
way through the glowing dark.

The horse-hooves never touch the earth to make a
sound. The horse has ridden this way before on the
oft-repeated mission.

The yellow flame the rider holds never goes out,
but flares the harder. The raised arm of the rider
never tires, but tirelessly carries the flame that will
never go out.

The wakened trees lean in the same direction as the
horse and rider, then settle back.

The forest goes still again and the little white birds
fly up and follow the rider as they always do.
As Near As Love

—Joyce Odam

Bear Woman is larger than Warrior Woman.
And more fierce. She could kill at whim.   
But this is a dance. Tribal and inexact.  

They circle and posture, snarling, for threat
and challenge. One of them will have to die,
but that is expected.

All night the sky rains blood, but neither
has conquered the other. Ritual demands
the exchange of powers. But the winner

must be sly and woo the other’s surrender.
That they are kin is of no consequence.
Love is the power between them, equally

possessive and resisted and must be broken.
All night they have beaten the earth raw
with their dancing. The dawn redeems them.
 Falling Leaves

—Joyce Odam

I could say of these vines that they are tangled, cannot be solved, that one should not enter them; they are fastened to the earth in knots, choking their own spaces. They are complicated—like puzzles—looking for straightness and upwardness, or how to avoid those directions.

And they are strong, growing thick with their struggle—as muscular as cats. They possess the place they are at with the tenacity of secrets, or changeability. You cannot step through them, unless you be as small as insects are, or moisture made of gray drizzle, or are as bodiless as breezes.

And vines are very slow and dark; they are forever changing their mind, or trying out new decisions—such are the thoughts of vines, coiling as slow as centuries, curving all over themselves in a sort of sensuality—like a slow writhe of serpents in some rare goldness—not knowing which of them is the one they are.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 3/29/17; 8/23/22) 

—Joyce Odam

This deep red water,
full of blue reflections,
drowning trees and clouds,
it is sunset
and the colors
bleed and bleed
but cannot dilute.
Water shadows
fret at the bank edges—
lap against green—
try to eat the earth away.
The trees lean out to test themselves.
The bank holds them in place.
The river turns where the light ends.
It is sunset and the river
has vanished into the sky.
The sky has swallowed the river
and the last bend of color.
All is peaceful now.
The trees can rest
and the shadows
repair themselves–
everything that was—
still is : this is the myth
of all that has no sensation—
only the sad awareness of your watching.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 4/3019)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Robin Gale Odam

night sky, swath of gray,
mother earth and her muse—

curve of dark under the first
pastel ray from the one horizon—

at the other, the dark of invitation,
an invocation, surreal levitation for

virtue of seasons—for the lift of wings
of flying creatures, and the sanctity

of wind moaning through hollows and
sighing at the path of the hour-hand,

above the-notebook-and-the-pen, over
what is there or gone or coming to be.


Many new-May thanks to Joyce and Robin for answering to our Seed of the Week (Trees) in such splendid fashion, with fine poetry and visuals!

The eggs of the Canada Goose who was nesting on the carport across the street from me have hatched; those yolks turned into three yellow fluff-balls that wandered around the carport for a few minutes and finally settled under the hen who is their forever-mother. After some bonding time, both parents flew down to the street and called until the golden fluffs fluttered down (safely!). Then all five of this new family hustled across the street and down the bank to the creek that will be their home throughout the chicks’ childhood—putting my mind to rest after several weeks of worry, I might add!

This scene will repeat itself millions of times around the globe this season. Such power those yolks hold! So our new Seed of the Week is “Yolks”. 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.


 Owlet meets his first tulip~
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy 
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

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