Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lovers And Keepsakes

A buckskin jacket worn by Modoc chief "Captain Jack" 
during the Modoc Indian Wars of 1872-73,
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

How beautifully they share themselves,
in shyness and in grace:

two from another time
and place, as if foreseeable.

So they believe in fate.
Sweet fate.

He plays for her on a quiet violin,
adoring and sincere.

She sits listening, hands in her lap,
eyes down, and properly demure.

Her hair is permed. She wears
a simple dress. Her feet are bare.

He wears a ruffled shirt, knee pants,
has silver buttons on his shoes.

Oh, lovers, love yourselves for ever
and each other. Never mind

what cannot be. You have time
confused. You need no answer.


Thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poetry, and to Michelle Kunert for the photographs she took at the California Museum. Joyce's poems are about last week's Seed of the Week, Magritte's painting, Les Amants, and Michelle's photos tie into our SOW for this coming week: Keepsakes—a theme fitting for museums or for Memorial Day, yes? (Not to mention Carol Frith's new book, Keepsake Houses: Crooked Streets.) Send your poems about Keepsakes to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726; for previous SOWs, see our "Calliope's Closet" page (click on it under the Snake on a Rod over at the right of this column). No deadline on SOWs.

Yesterday I reckoned as how we'd never gotten a poem about armadillos before Brigit Truex's—turns out one of the wee critters showed up in Taylor Graham's poem, "Memory," on May 11. I'll be darned. TG is a member of Red Fox Underground, and, as I pointed out, the end of winter has brought the RFU out of the woods, with readings last night and this coming Friday (see the b-board). I should've also pointed out that another Red Fox, Moira Magneson, is organizing this year's Squaw Valley Community of Writers Poetry Benefit (20th Anniversary!) to endow scholarships and work study position for poets accepted into Squaw Valley's Summer Poetry Workshop. The benefit will take place at the Crocker Art Museum on Friday, July 15, and readers will be Robert Hass, Cathy Park Hong, Major Jackson, Galway Kinnell, and Sharon Olds. That's at the Crocker's Setzer Auditorium, 216 O St., Sac. Tix: $20; $15 students; purchase at www.brownpapertickets.com. More info: www.squawvalleywriters.org/readings.html


—Joyce Odam

They were so pure love lifted them into clouds where
violins could celebrate their love.  They were so pure
they floated years after that—oblivious to gravity—to
height of probabilities.  They were so pure they stayed—
no need to fall from such a state of being—his arm
supporting them in his embrace—her dress floating
behind her in poetic gracefulness.


—Joyce Odam

We are full of that furor
known as love.  We are not to be
trusted.   We are always bereft.
We are always without conclusion.

You should not respond to us—
who among us can be constant
and never change
our stage-setting or conditions:

the light is never enough;
the dark is always too much;
we have the temperament
of the weather.

You cannot hold us—
you can only regret us.
When we abandon you—
you can only tell us goodbye.


—Joyce Odam

In the wet and shining world where summer
rain falls through the light and spatters to the
ground, droplets splashing on the thirsty day,

and they’re in love,    in love,    in love, as they
go slowly walking—side by each—their faces
happy and their sorrows told—those first

confessions lovers have to tell when sharing
secrets—bonding—bonding, and the light rain
falls between them and they know that they

can trust each other all their lives.  And then
the rain falls harder and the clouds grow thick
above them and they start to run—they laugh

and start to run toward a shelter.   The shelter
takes them in.  They watch the rain, and one
goes moody, and the other grow uneasy.  The

rain falls harder.  A bolt of lightning flashes
all around them like a warning.  They laugh
and count the seconds toward the thunder

that breaks the air, and breaks the tension,
the rain a downpour now.  They hold each other.
Rain puddles form.   It is the last of summer.


—Joyce Odam

Oh arms
Oh face
Oh body fused to body
Oh perfect moment
Oh love     Oh love     Oh love
We curve and curve and become closer
How can we be real.
You glow and I suffer your beauty.
I glow and you speak of the agony of joy.
Oh hold me as I hold you.
We are burning with energy.
Waves of color absorb us.
We are altered beyond reality.
How can we ever be more?
How can we ever be less than this?


—Joyce Odam

He had a face so sad
he made her love him.

Each was a child to the other.
Each had a mystery to solve.

Each told a solemn story
and allowed one word of pity.

They turned away together
into their gentle misery—

they turned away as one and
blended till they disappeared.

We heard them, underneath the
darkness, softly crying ever after.


—Joyce Odam

The lovers move forever
toward their happiness.

A field of flowers
surrounds them.

Their faces lean together,

and their words escape
into promises.


—Joyce Odam

What of the room of longing
that holds no lovers now.

Sad curtains tear the
dusty sunlight.

All day the old room-shadows
search for what is gone.

At night the voyeured window
brings it all back,

when the closed room fills
with ancient moonlight.


Today's LittleNip: 

Love is unqualified. His dislikes live in his qualifications.

—Stephen Dobyns



Bearclaw pattern basket by 
Washoe Indian tribeswoman Dat So La Lee
—Photo by Michelle Kunert
California Museum