—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
In the Theatre’s dark rows, they move like
tuning violins through a stun of dark, their
bodies vibrating to identifying edges. Perhaps
they’ll find a seat and stare with the rest of
us at a screen where figures move and mood-
music leads us along. Perhaps their innocent
knees will touch in the dark, and perhaps
their hands will grope. And perhaps the fig-
ures on the screen will turn from their lines
and watch while the usher kneels down by a
back aisle seat and strokes the arm of a girl.
And perhaps the dark is made for this—drama
and need—and the music filling the settling
dark. And some will settle back and sleep,
and some will kiss, and some will twist a handker-
chief that is made for tears. And outside, the
daylight will wait for them to come back out
and be stunned back into the flow. Or perhaps
it will be night, and the mood will be retained
for awhile, and the soft-focus world will re-
cede to a blur around them—even the stars;
and the violins will end on a note of articulate
pain; and already a ladder will be placed
against the marquee where a man will be
changing the letters for the next attraction.
THE COMING ATTRACTIONS
It was only a dime to get in if you were
under twelve. And I could pass if I
hunched in, round-shouldered, to conceal
the breast-development I always hid
self-consciously. Then I would go
to the ladies’ room to put the lipstick on
and mascara from the small red box
with the small black wand. And I would
pose into the flattery of the mirrors
until I found my movie face. Then I’d
go in to the gilt interior of the theatre,
where drama led my thoughts away
and yearning took my heart along
for all my star-touched life—in love
with love—and Charles Boyer.
(First published in Pearl, 1997)
FROM THE LOVE STORIES OF MYSELF
what old melodrama
my life was
black and white movies
spliced and edited
half-hearted chase scenes
some lecherous form
settling beside me
but I watched
that young and handsome
behind the flashlight
who could have been
a movie star
he showed the way
to loge seats
plush and deep
laugh through some scenes
weep for others
any sham of a reason
to be here
aching to be discovered
chewing on ticket stubs
in the adolescent dark
(First appeared in Slant, 1991)
I go to the movies, come out an actress,
in love with leading man after leading man.
Too shy to be myself, I become a composite
of leading ladies, sultry and mysterious.
Happy endings wait for me; the school boys
I’ve had crushes on never disdain me,
but yearn after me with regret in their eyes.
I am on the stage of my life, in role after role,
rehearsing, anticipating, waiting to be who I am,
wondering when life’s perfect love will find me.
Natural redheads. Natural
response. Mirrors confirm.
All eyes go toward. Admire.
Hair of fiery look.
Audacity of self-assurance.
Hair that lifts to light.
Has sheen. Pulls self and
others in same distraction.
Admiration: Hey, Red… !
Target for helpless hearts.
love that look. Movies, too.
Little Egyptian bottle.
Promise to cure dullness,
ignite with sexy color.
She looks at us through painted eyes,
her dark hair ornately styled.
She speaks with a slight accent
and seems to have a secret
she wants to tell, but seems afraid.
She moves through the gift shop,
pointing to this-or-that antique,
as if to dissuade our questions.
But we want to know where we are—
why we are lost in this movie—
what the plot is.
She warns with her eyes.
But we persist. A curtain parts slightly.
The beads rustle—
we need to get back into the audience,
to see what we will do—
she picks up a tiny jeweled box
with a secret compartment (we know this
from the surreptitious note she slips inside).
We buy, and hurry out the exit
and are back in our seats in the theatre—
dark and empty now—
she has warned us not to open the box.
when life was new,
trains came through
with ghostly sound
and easy distance.
Nights were long
and what I knew
was whole and strong
—not like illusion.
Where this goes
is just as far
as nowhere is—
I’ve been there, too.
Hooray for the
fine wind and time
for old movies on TV
James Cagney young
a feather-hatted blonde by his side.
back at the window and
the brisk Canadian wind
in the frantic poplar tree
my mother getting drunk and sad…
her hurts and pains…
with pills for each…
she takes them all.
my strange and native land…
she’ll never cook tonight,
She talks and weeps…
so many yesterdays to grieve…
to worry for…
she does them all.
She’ll never cook tonight.
(First published in Red Start, 1987)
I want bead curtains to hang in my doorway
like those in old movies, tinkling softly
when someone brushes through.
(First published in Brevities, 2009)
Three items of note:
1) Thanks to (the prolific!) Joyce Odam for her contributions to last week's Seed of the Week: Strangers on a Train, and to Katy Brown for her stealthily-caught egret;
2) Our apologies to Chris Piper for some early formatting difficulties with his poems on yesterday's post—if you read it yesterday before 10am, you might want to check back for the corrections; and
3) Heads up: this week's SOW is Poppies, Robins, and Other Signs of Spring. Send your spring signs (or any other poems and pix) to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadlines on SOWs.