Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fade to White

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


Nina Simone—
is she real, or movie-real.
How do you save your heroine
who is doomed—
never see her again,
nor remember the name
of the song.
You are
but a tune
for her to hum.
Do not write her name
on your lips.
There is nothing left to prove.
She loves the winter rain.
She will move across the screen
in between the commercials
of your life—that true refrain.



It doesn’t mean she didn’t think about it—
walking home with the stranger who

had shared an hour with her in the
coffee shop—two casual moments—

sharing time—and that it was cold,
and had been raining—only an

interesting detail of the story—
he was so courteous, a little bit sad, 

and she was restless, with a sadness
of her own, and their voices

intermingled in the clear night air,
their slow footsteps sounding

in unison on the wet sidewalk,
and at the corner he held her elbow

as she stepped down, and she looked
at him sideways, and you could almost

read her thoughts, and her smile
was the smile of someone who had

made a careful decision, and they said
goodnight, and there was no ending. 


She slapped me. She slapped me on
my stinging face. Face of rage. Face
of weeping. Face of denial. She said
I lied, and she slapped me.



Faded signs would never name the towns.  It always    
rained, and there was no one to give directions.  The     
sole café was sad—like in the movies—or in the   
Hopper paintings.

A child always stood in the road behind us, bouncing
a red ball in the shadows between the few thin trees
that stretched toward each other across the lane. 
A woman always appeared in an open doorway,
watching us leave.

(first pub. in Parting Gifts, Winter 1998-99) 


I don’t pretend to know those words in French—
I’ll not pronounce them here, I don’t know how,
but I still love the sound of them—the way
they charm the voice and titillate the ear,
so sensual against the listened mind,
romantic and believable as love.

And I have always been in love with love.
I loved a movie star once. He was French.
For years he held the heartstrings to my mind,
an adolescent misfit, learning how
to suffer love in secret, with an ear
for tragic love, for drama’s tragic way.

When talking to myself, the slowest way
home from the movie’s dark, and sad with love,
imagining his voice thrilling my ear…
imagining him saying things in French…
imagining him adoring me—of how
he would discover me…I filled my mind…

And I was leading lady in my mind.
Of Mayerling; I almost lost the way
to treasure life—oh, I can say it now:
the fatal sacrifice…ill-fated love…
their suicide, so gloomy, and in French…
tense background music building in my ear…

romantic nonsense? I turned my deaf ear
to that—I knew my inner mind,
but never knew of kisses that were French,
or opportune seductions in the way
infatuations take the place of love.
I simply loved, no one could tell me now.

But I was shy—it would not matter how
I make-believed—it was for my own ear,
those lines that spoke my passion-stricken love
with eloquence known only in my mind.
That maudlin tragedy has gone its way
but I still spark to accent that is French.

How did I hold so long, in this old mind,
that ear of remembrance, haloing the way
love was a movie star—so sad—so French.

(first pub. in The Poet’s Guild,  November/December 1996)


In the dark are other darks—luminous
and round—hollow and deep— ringed
with full moons and the echo of dogs.

The lure of late movies on TV.
The sleep of no sleep.
All the ache and buzz of night thoughts.

The turning of time
which is desolate and round
on its one-way clock.

The repetition and persistence
of the days.  The whistle that
will not reach to hush the barking.

And the other who is not asleep in
the house but roams about in the
gradual under-sound of other sound,

well past the October midnight
which is still summer—
well past all that is empty and unfound.


And it was snowing

in the blue window lit by
candlelight, soft and

directionless, but in a slow
flurry, and it was late,

past second chances,
or reconciliations,

something to add to
the drama—

what was left unfinished 
or never begun. 

Was it real snow,
or wishful illusion.

Nights are
allowed their secrets. 

Movies and life
are much alike, but for

certain mood-music 
and turns of expectation.  

(Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway)

Don Juan sits down at the table with the pretty girl
who is waiting for her date to arrive. He strokes
her fingers, telling her which parts of her hand

are erotic to his mind. His mask and costume
are not out of place here. His intensity is real—
as is his momentary love for her.

She, of course, surrenders in less time than it
takes to tell of this, and of course we leave out
the details. After, Don Juan thanks her and leaves.

Her escort walks up just then and Don Juan
wafts through the crowded room in a flourish
of disguise. 

Now he’s on the roof of his suicide, waiting for
his worthy opponent to accept his challenge—
but it’s famed psychiatrist Marlon Brando

who comes up the side of the wall instead and
says he believes who Don Juan says he is.
They will change each other—or will they?

(in the course of analysis)

Don Juan will remain Don Juan, no matter who
the world says he is, and Marlon Brando will
retire with his belovéd to a garden in Paradise.


Today's LittleNip:


I want bead curtains to hang in my doorway
like those in old movies, tinkling softly
when someone brushes through.

(first pub. in
Brevities, October, 2009)


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's lovely breakfast of poems and photos; Joyce loves the movies, and she's got a huge pantry full of movie poems, a few of which she shared with us today to help us end up the current Seed of the Week: At the Movies. Our new SOW is Roots—those of trees, heritage, origins, hair, teeth... See what you can whip up on the subject of Roots, and send the results (poetry, photos, artwork) to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs, though.

And don't forget to send your poems and visuals about Sacramento to Medusa, either, to help us celebrate Sac. Poetry Day (Oct. 26) with Medusa's Marathon Mega-Post that day!