Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Trouble With Love

Porcelain Head
—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

I tried forgetting you. There was no rule
to pit against—unequal to the test
that all love must—at least once—play the fool
who loves too hard. I should forget the rest.
Perhaps youth makes its own excuse—the heart
obeys no warning—wisdom fails at this.
Seduction is a fascinating art.
Someone will put the first fire in a kiss.
A kiss like that belongs where it belongs:
regretted maybe—savored—secretly mourned,
something to echo in old hurting songs,
with their rebukes for some love that was scorned,
that take you back to some long-buried name,
that memory—perverse—burns to reclaim.


(Mother Ryder’s Home for Children, c. 1932)
—Joyce Odam

Danny has shown me how to hold a blade
of field grass to make it whistle. I have a
skill now. I can make music of the grass.


Shy Danny has never teased shy me.
We twist on the swings. Time is not
here yet. We wait for it in the dusk.


Danny, will you miss me . . . . Danny
will you remember me? We touch our

        knees together at the bottom of
        the three cement steps that lead

                down to a locked door. One of us
                must leave. We are eight years old.


—Joyce Odam

Back in the surreal season of childhood
by the summer sea where time was endless,
there was a boy with eyes of pain—
half-real, half-dream—
who did not love me, so he said,
and led me through confusions.

I learned to navigate confusions
the way one gets through childhood.
There was a trickery of truth to what he said.
He said his lack of love was endless;
he said his life was only made of dream
and that is why he had eyes of pain.

He said only I could take away his pain
if only I would sort out his confusions.
Then he would turn away to that illusory dream
that innocence assigns to childhood.
My sorrow-bond to him was endless,
for I believed everything he said.

When summer died I said
I could no longer bear his eyes of pain.
He answered with a look and sigh, endless
with even deeper delving into his confusions.
He was destined to remain in childhood
where he would stay part real and mostly dream.

I think he still exists in his real dream.
It was in something that he said—
that surely he would die outside of childhood—
outside of which was even greater pain.
He was only sure of his confusions.
If I betrayed him—left him there—in endless

despairing loneliness, I would suffer endless
regret for the abandonment of those innocent first dreams
that always know the way out of life’s confusions.
What was it that he said—
that only he could take away my pain—
that I would always remain with him in childhood?

I feel an endless, sad desire to find him again. He said
we were more than dream—more than his exquisite pain,
aloof with such confusions. He kept my childhood.


—Joyce Odam

What, indeed, has become
of that old love—existent for all time
in the nurtured heart—that pit of memory.

What power it pretends—
pressing you to it
like a heartbeat shared.

Forget it. Or remember it. I don’t care.
But quit assigning it the first position.
It has forgotten you.


—Joyce Odam

How often have I asked, “What do you want?”
and with no answer, turned away from you—
as you have asked of me—to beg some clue—
as if words haven’t become a kind of gaunt-
let flung between us. And our silence, too.
And even as we test, and tease, and flaunt
our force and stubbornness and bear the brunt
of this, it’s what we always seem to do
instead of soft persuasion. We’re so new
at love: we bait, we guard, we vex, we taunt.
Thus do we share our bitter ways to haunt
each other’s upset lives. I guess it’s true:
It’s hard to risk—much less entrust—a pledge.
Love is a game with such a fragile edge.



It is not so much the expectation
as how things are:
cruelty comes first, and after.

What is left is in-between.
There is always one who will fail the other.
No equality here to make things easy.

There is a suffering to know. And disillusion.
If you can master these, you may
get through—value your scars—

show them proudly to each other—
even touch them lovingly,
and bless survival.

—Joyce Odam


Our thanks to Joyce for the poems and pix today! Joyce also has a poem in the new WTF which premiered last Thursday night at Luna's Cafe and is now available for free at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sac. Also appearing in this issue are Sage Alejandra, Bill Gainer, Patti Smith, Evan Myquest, Annie Menebroker, Amy Anne, JoAnn Anglin, David Houston, Trina Drotar, Patricia Hickerson, Bonnie Antonini, Josh Fernandez, Max West, Ed Tyack, Allegra Silberstein, Kelly Ann Conway, Sandy Thomas, Beth Lisick, Kristin Hersh and David Narcizzo, Jennifer Miro, Rachel Leibrock and frank andrick. Cynthia Linville also has a poem in there, entitled "The Wages of Sin", which we have stolen for this week's Seed of the Week. In the past, we've had "My Favorite Sin" and "Seven Deadly Virtues", but we've never had to pay for any of it. So here we are, with our thanks to Cynthia:

—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

You are lost in her fleshy dancing
lost in the feathers slapping her thigh
her stiletto spike on the chair
between your knees.
Your guilt is barefooted
and in shame you think of fig leaves
as you slip green into her G-string.
With the barest nod
she beckons you into the back
where your best intentions collapse into
smoky silk, garish caresses, open throats.
Your throttling peak subsides
into icy shudders
leaving you wandering
this labyrinthine catacomb
looking for the way out.


Send your penitent musings (well, it IS the beginning of Lent—) to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadlines on SOWs (or N-SOWs—see the green board at the right of this); go to Calliope's Closet under the Snake on a Rod (again, on the green board) for all the SOWs of the past (hey—we changed the arrangement of things over there, just to rattle our cages a little bit!). And don't forget to check out Cynthia's Mardi Party "photo album" on Medusa's Facebook page for Fat Tuesday!


Today's LittleNip: 


came through my life and left a wound
       for memory,
and left a love—bitter and sweet—
      and went away

and left a sleep to fill with dreams
      that wreathed
like smoke—and turned to pleasure—
     and to pain;

one who was love—composite now—
    became unreal—
was never real         was never love

—Joyce Odam 



 Clown on Blue
—Photo by Joyce Odam