Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Waiting For Some Dream

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

I imagine him playing a flute
in a long wet corridor
walled in stone.

I imagine him mysterious,
facing the east with burning eyes,
and at night the west.

I imagine him father to some burning child
made of melting bone, with soul of cold fire
and mouth holding an old moan.

I imagine a long cold note of sadness
that he cannot hear
floating between us in the closing air.

This is the fatherless year
of devastation
when all things break and are gone . . .

I imagine my father . . .
broken . . .
gone . . .

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 6/22/10; 6/20/17)


—Joyce Odam

My father in a soft moonlight,
waiting for some dream to waken him . . .

I listen to him crying
but he doesn’t know I am his daughter.

He suffers from failure—that, and some
lost love. My imagination cannot save him.

He stares at a small gray river.
The water-moon quivers his face.

He thinks that love has abandoned him.
My mother stands watching from

her own sad distance—I look
from one to the other and cry out to them.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 6/23/15)

—Robin Gale Odam

The first tear, the water and the
sky—her eyes the likeness of her

father’s, her heart secured by
gods of ancestors, she wears the

embroidery of ceremony like a boa-
serpent—chains of colored seeds,
the tall grasses of her uncle’s fields,

and her long hair, braided in her mother’s
last days, in the smoke of the burial fire.

Her gaze is careful, her resolve steady,
her honor deep as rain. 
Family Tree

When you were father and I was a child

and years grew fast and long between us,
leaving me only Mother.

This is not a complaint—or a cry.
I don’t know what it is.

Perhaps a door that I cannot open—
or close.

Perhaps there should be only the doorway
and no door—an opening

that is the fatherless world—
and no walls around it, to signify no house.

You were not a house, Father; only a door.
With a turn of the knob

you exited.
I still write Why on the wall that is not there.

—Joyce Odam

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 6/20/17)


—Joyce Odam

Now, out of all the Motherings,
comes benign little Rabbit-Prop—
dressed homey, in old fashioned mode.

Mother-Child sets her in a comfy rocking chair
upon the floral rug to soften the squeak
while Mother Rabbit struggles to grasp the

heavy book of Fairy Tales with her thumb
and porcelain fingers to balance herself
against this awkwardness of metaphor—

for how can she be expected to
handle this proxy as Rabbit-Mother
of Fairy Tales to explain all the morals of.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 7/25/17)

—Robin Gale Odam

we play in the meadow,
in the dust of the arid dirt . . .

we build sloping hills with
furrows all around . . .

we draw our names and
pat them all flat, we draw the
rainbow, the tortoise, the moon . . .

you remember we used to play
at the beach, building castles
with tin shovels and pails . . .

you ask me if father might
take us there . . .

I look long at the sky,
remember rain . . .


After Wash Day on the Maine Coast by N.C. Wyeth
—Joyce Odam

Upon the hill the winds are fierce and loud.
The bending woman scrubs the Monday sheets.
The day is tense. The hours all undo.
The boats below the hill are in a lull
at rest on calmer water in the cove.
The scene is frozen still. The sky is free.
The tugging clothesline fights the whipping sheets.
The centered woman, bending to her chore,
does not heed the rumors of the day.
The clothespins give—the sheets accumulate—
sheets billow into clouds. The woman scrubs.
The child upon the step plays with the wind,
the weather changing for the playing child.
The sheets become the sails for all the boats.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2/11/20)
Fabric of Ages

—Joyce Odam

There was music made of joy—she’d listen,
then weep—then tell of her father’s violin—
a grandfather I don’t remember—a deaf
grandmother who never heard music.

From my room at night, I’d hear her old
Victrola play one sad song over and over
and let run down—and then the needle’s
ceaseless scraping that she’d not turn off.

I wanted to play—the harmonica—the  
accordion—the piano—I thought I could
make music—a man came to our school—  
showed us how to fold paper over a comb
and hum into it . . . It thrilled my lips . . .

Before arthritis took my hands, I played a poor
guitar—singing the songs I would make up—
and that indulgent instrument would let me
play my clumsy chords—sounding good—
and I would play and sing and sing
to my musical, listening self.
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 10/21/14)
—Joyce Odam

Between the son and the father
the old ritualistic force
abides in the ruts
of father-hood
and son-hood—
a hard
incision—only the
blessing-curse of love
holds hope against the stubborn
grip that fights against submission.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 6/19/12; 11/13/18)  

After “The Grief of Cafeterias” by Donald Justice
 —Joyce Odam

What does poverty care for love, she asked, and rose
from her chair and flew through the window. But he
was not there to answer. He had used the door. The
room twirled in confusion. The child played quietly
in the dark curve of the turning.

Room after room repeated this—rooms of stolen light
bulbs and solitaire—the child turning the cards while
the mother soared against the ceiling with the white
moth that was so beautiful. We must kill it, the mother
said, handing the broom to the child.

The child learned to fly beside the moth through the
scene-changing years. The cards learned to tell their
own fortune. The rooms simply changed the walls and
windows while the mother learned to sing with the
voice of the child who had learned to harmonize.

(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2/17/15)
 Picking Flowers

—Joyce Odam

It will be all right;
I have had this premonition
in a burst of bird song
on a bright day
which had been overcast
a moment before
and no bird had been visible
or heard all season.

You may approach your father
as your self;
he will approve now;
he will be changed,
and you can love him again.
He will say,
“Bless you, bless you.”
It will be okay.

(prev. pub. in Poetry Now, March 2005, and
Medusa’s Kitchen, 6/23/17)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Robin Gale Odam

The book is fabulous—glossy pages
of paper sparrows and cranes, and the
timeless sailing boat—he closes his eyes
and pictures it gliding out of the slip of day
onto the lake. Between the cliffs. Beneath
the trees.

He selects the paper and leans over his
table. Three folds—the fortune cookie.


Joyce Odam and Robin Gale Odam have sent us fine poems and photos about fathers today, continuing our Father’s Day celebration of 2024, and we send back our hearty thanks! For more about Donald Justice, go to https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/donald-justice/.

Our new Seed of the Week is “Dark Sounds in the Woods”. 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.


Wash Day on the Maine Coast
—Painting by N.C. Wyeth, 1934

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