Joyce Odam


Photo by Katy Brown

Joyce has had poetry published by hundreds of publications, including Christian Science Monitor, Rattle, Seattle Review, The Lyric, and Bellingham Review. Her numerous awards include being Grand Prize winner of Artists Embassy International’s Dancing Poetry Contest (‘99), the 1997 Voices International Bernie Babcock Memorial Award, and a two-time winner of the California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc.’s Golden Pegasus award. She was editor of Poetry Depth Quarterly, but since its closing, she focuses on her monthly Brevities. She is co-editor of “Poet’s Corner” for Senior Magazine, and on the Revolving Editorial Board of California Quarterly, in addition to serving as Formalist-in-Residence for Rattlesnake Review. Joyce may be contacted at


Joyce dances with Danyen Powell at her 80th birthday party

Joyce Odam has produced four books for Rattlesnake Press: A Sense of Melancholy (a RattleChap); Caught Against the Years (a SnakeRings SpiralChap of poems by Joyce and art by her daughter, Charlotte Vincent); Peripherals: Prose Poems by Joyce Odam (another SnakeRings SpiralChap, also illustrated by Charlotte Vincent) and Noir Love (a Rattlesnake LittleBook). The following two poems are from her chapbook, A Sense of Melancholy, and below them are two of Joyce’s poems with Charlotte’s drawings from Caught Against the Years.


These two poems are from

Joyce’s rattlechap, A Sense of Melancholy:


This is not a distance to be traveled under water, holding your long, strong breath; this is not a sleep, though you be its dream—this is what you must travel to come out of yourself.

This is not a distance to be traveled through the air, without falling; you must support your own buoyancy, spread out your articulate life-wing and connect your vision.

This is not a stillness you must hold while all shatters about you—you are the center of it all—the dot of perfection that is the focal point of destruction, untouchable by force and resistance.

You are all of it. All. Hold your position.

(after Threading Light, Mark Tobey, 1942)

I, being abstract of expression, come to you with riddles—complicate the darkness with the light— talk of a distance year and place—run my thoughts

over language and beg you listen to the hum and flow of words that skim the surface—like gull from sea to land then back to sky, but all in white. I ask you

for detail, to close your eyes and see, describe, define, reclaim from blank space all that you remember of nothing. Out of my vagueness I plagiarize the light,

threading it… threading it… threading it… while you watch—while I create patterns of thought and silence between us—the way you do when you look at me.

These two poems are from Caught Against the Years, a collection of Joyce’s poetry which was illustrated by her daughter, Charlotte Vincent.


It is a long time into the eloquence of stones. Ravens carry their own death under their black wings.
Along the invisibility, the old forms begin to assemble.
The vain reflections claim they cannot live without mirrors.
Once, in the snow, the snow-ghost led us, followed us, teased us; we played back for a while, then got lost within the white.
All night, the storyteller sat mute under a spotlight of intensity, then got up, bowed, and walked off-stage—and was applauded.
3:45 says the clock. I praise this significance of numbers, write it down to remember. 3:46 says the clock.


friend fool
you have already inherited
you have already been kissed
by its loving eyes
and signed your self

so what is fame
but brief
and worth, at best, one
drop of rain
time can be measured
in instant or eternity
they are the same









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