Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Into the Darkening Woods

A Dark Note
—Poetry by Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam,
Sacramento, CA
—Visuals by Joyce Odam
—Joyce Odam
After Wistman's Wood, Devon, Dartmoor, England

In the woods, many shadows and
many sunbeams play through trees that
guide me in, and in, till I am deeper in.

The trees grow thicker. The shadows shift.
The sunlight flickers in and out of branches
that replicate their patterns on the moving ground.

Turning circles lead me deeper—hearing now,
the snaps and rustles—the loss of place—
the alien blend of peace mixed up with fear—

the feeling that I don’t belong : shadows turn into
unseen birds are closing up their songs, and I am in
the center of a center with no direction now.

How do I belong to this…

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 9/26/17;
12/24/19; 10/25/22)
Against the Dark II

—Robin Gale Odam

Before the measureless sky a
hill rises out of a black forest
of trees.

     in the firmament
     outside of eternity
     in another life

On the slope of the hill a small
tree holds fast to its leaves,
leaning away from the shade
they cast—leaning toward the
seraphic light cascading over
the tops of the forest trees, the
ones in the darkness.

     under the heaven
     tragedy and ecstasy
     there is a season


 —Joyce Odam

I thought it best to weave them

as they came, let them be what they are

to each other—I, their collector—

late October words

at the verge 

of winter.


there’s a word,

I let it merge with the others,

turn gold, 

turn rust red 

on surrendering trees,

let the words color

let them fall

like October leaves—

I, who love them, summer the words,

and some of them take pity,

saying, here, take me.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 10/18/11)
A Guarded Woods II—The Raptor

breath of aging tree
all of thunder in one sketch
darkening the sky

—Robin Gale Odam


—Robin Gale Odam

lacy nest of eggs
filled with fragile promises
bird of cliché blue
holding heaven in its beak
the sigh of wind—the dreaming girl

(prev. pub. in
Brevities, May 2018) 
The Lullaby of Another Time

—Joyce Odam

A child
going into a fairy tale,
that woods
of deep light,
the playground
full of childhood rules
and riddles…

what waits in the center?
                    a way out?
a way never to return?

the child goes in
and becomes a part
of what is there,
becomes the hushed sound,
the figment of light,
the different ending
to the story.

(prev. pub. in Red Cedar Review (Of Colorado)
Issue #4, 1993; and Medusa’s Kitchen, 1/29/19) 
Beautiful Weeping Bird II

—Joyce Odam

every night the horse gallops through the frantic
dream through the white trees in the moonlight
carrying the frightened princess away from
the danger—everywhere now . . .
the horse
never catches
its flowing mane in
the rustling branches,
or loses its footing in
the agitated roots or in
the loosening stones of
the wakening woods
that have only one
way through . . .

do not worry—this is a story I made up to scare
you :
the princess is the dreamer—the horse is the
the princess will lose when the dream is over . . . 

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 9/26/17)
Her Counterpoint

—Joyce Odam

Strangely sensual without the body—flattened into
pure shining texture for the observing room light.
her kimono, lying open on the bed—


In the late summer woods—a leaf has fallen into
a shaft of sunlight and lies, softly shining there,
its edges lifted by the occasional small breezes.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 1/20/12; 3/17/20)
 A Listening

certainty of wind
measured whispering of time
migration of song

—Robin Gale Odam
After “The Aim Was Song” by Robert Frost

(prev. pub. in Brevities, February 2017;
Song of the San Joaquin, Spring 2018)


 —Joyce Odam

. . . as far as the cold white moon can see
that mountain range
that cold gray sea
that tiny ship
adrift in time
that endless sky
through which one final soul must climb

. . . what loneliness is quite as deep
what vow to break
what promise keep . . .
oh, human mind
that wants to stay
and wants to go
and dares not pray
to emptiness, or its rebuke

. . . what is the scope in such vast reach
beyond what eye
and mind can know
one brilliant moon
shines like a clue
horizon gone
the mountains strain
the waves repeat
time’s ship has vanished . . . far or deep

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 9/15/20)
No Echo

—Joyce Odam

Unable to breathe
city man
longs for deep woods

for green silences
for snap of little sounds in
night’s sharp cold

for long hill to climb
to find
a virgin place

in which to plant
the acorn that he carries
in his pocket.

(prev. pub. in Driftwood, 1972;
Medusa’s Kitchen, 11/24/15)
Stillness of the Quiet

—Joyce Odam

. . . so swiftly go the shadows of Time, the shifting
of balances, the paths we took into the tangle . . . a
wonderland of unreality . . . the woods so soft in the
filtering moonlight with their tiny trees and dim-
inishing distance, their curious paths of strained 
light into another opening . . .

. . . it was the cure, the cure for silence and inter-
ruptive sound, a moment out of such a word as 
Time, immeasurable, such a word as, ‘lived by’ or 
waited on’, and we lost it after all, being too im-
mersed in trying to realize the meaning, and 
import, and how strange it felt, saying it, as if it 
were a miracle, somehow that was believed in

. . . and it was so small we almost missed it, so real
we almost didn’t believe it, it was something we
wanted to remember, tell each other about, like a
confession, it was that important . . . and here we 
are, trying to conjure it again, as if our love 
depended on it.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Robin Gale Odam

When the credits roll, when happily
every after is embraced and the story
cleaves to a strand of illusion, the music
becomes slower and softer, dying away.

(prev. pub. in
Brevities, Oct 2016;
Sacramento Poetry Anthology 2017;
Song of the San Joaquin, Winter 2017)


Joyce Odam
and Robin Gale Odam have led us into the woods today—our Seed of the Week was Dark Sounds in the Woods, and Joyce and Robin have taken us there with their fine poetry and visuals. Our thanks to them for these dreams and fantasies! For more about Wistman's Wood, including lovely photos, see https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/wistman-s-wood/.

Our new Seed of the Week is “Lust”. Yes, lust. 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.


 “How do I belong to this…”
—Public Domain Illustration

A reminder that
Twin Lotus Thai Fourth Tuesdays
Moira Magneson, J. Rowe, &
Carol Lynn Stephenson Grellas
tonight, 6pm, in Sacramento.
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.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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Find previous four-or-so posts by scrolling down
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Did someone say, “Lust”?