Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sister of Woe

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


A woman made of snow cannot love
a man of fire, with all the difference
that will torture them with harsh desire.

A man of snow, with all his melting ways,
his summer moods, will always blame
a woman without praise, who also broods.

Alas again, for all inequities by which
imbalances betray.  Take music, or take
silence.  Expect of this what words

can never say.  The hollow heart
will echo till it fails.
What has abandoned it?

Why can’t it listen?  It gave and gave
and gave again, and nothing back
will give.  How selfish are the sufferers

who have no right to woe.  How helpless,
too, the inability of sympathy to ease
a single throe.  O! words are useless:

fire and snow, a window placed between
a love that streams and ends at last as rain,
the tears love comes to know.  


(sub-genre of lament)

I am your Sister of Woe,
your Waif of Sorrow, your Hag
of Misery, your Old Crow;
Perfect Wife, Phantom Mistress never had;

I am the One Remembered
I am the One You Forget
the One You’ll Love Forever
the One You Conjure, the One You’ve Not Yet Met.

I am the One Who Answers—
the Named, or the Nameless Me—
The One Not in the Mirror, who,
without an image, am not allowed to be.

I am your Witch Of Worry.
I feed your dreams what I know.
Thus do I keep myself busy—
Priestess,     Whore,     Bedeviler,     Angel of woe. 


All the sorrows wait at the window
with vague eyes. Do not disturb them;

watch how the shadows flow down
the walls. “Like ghosts,” you say.

I do not contradict you. “Like ghosts,”
you say. “It was the way the light froze

at the window . . .  but night has a way
of losing that,” you try to explain,

“and besides, that was yesterday.”
 Again we fall silent.

We fall.

One can fall a long time
like that.



Here is a man in a scratched-out opening,
a stick figure only—but there

in a clump of despair.  How is it
he has affected me so?

I care for him—trapped
in the crosshatch darkness around him.

I want the artist to release him:
captive to misery—unable

to back out of the opening
or step forward into a positive dimension.

What do I recognize in him? 
Is it myself?   Did I do this?—Give him

his hopeless suffering?   Why do I
linger at this page as if only I can free him?


Now lie on the curve;
you will not fall in.
You are the one I love.
I have lain on the curve
for years.

Look in the water
blow the curve.
It is quiet and thin.
It holds no face but mine.
Come see.
You will not fall in.



frail shape of butterfly
in curtain light

a wet sound
like rain

you waking to your
old sorrow once again



You bleed your words all over me,
so now I weep—

feel the burning of these tears

upon your own rawness.
Weep for my suffering

for your sake.



like a stone cry I hear
on the darkness . . .

I am the dark . . .
I am the silence it fills . . .

it howls into me
and sinks through to my heavy heart.



Torn again, the curtains of night.
        How  many stars
pass through—become dreams—
        sweet and  lonely.

Yet it is bitterness that always
        claims you—
wanting those second chances
        to solve.

How loosely life holds you now
        in its mind-cradle,
lullaby after lullaby—till sleep
        lets you in.


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.



It is all right to ask a question of Sorrow
for Sorrow never lies. Sorrow never wants

To let you go. It is a jealous one.
Sorrow will cause great weeping

and great abstinence from weeping
while it feeds on the darkness of your eye.

Sorrow will take life and death
and combine them so that you can

always trade one for the other.
Sorrow is everywhere—in everyone,

yet alone in each. It is hard
to share sorrow. Sorrow loves you,

promises loyalty, promises long
self-communion with the impossible.

Never tell Sorrow you love Joy,
its sister, for Sorrow

will find a way to win you back
with its next persuasion.



I wanted to hold this day in bondage,
but the day held me. So many steps
to the door. So many back.

Beware the weather. It is grim.
No letter today. Why wait.
There is no tomorrow.

I could not bear the truth of your eyes.
Your hand was cold in mine.
I forgave you your excuses.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's culinary fare! Joyce writes a great deal about anguish (our last Seed of the Week). About her collection today, she writes:

Took some thinking on this theme, especially as one I am familiar and fairly comfortable with, as in the difficulty of relationship dept.  I chose photos to represent 'The Old Anguish' of the theme— (...having been anguished and old a time or two...)

but as of weeds—to strengthen through, beyond, and 'in-spite-of' all the miseries....

Not the pretty, but the intense...

Our next Seed of the Week is Guardian Angels; send your thoughts about same to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs, though. Check the Calliope's Closet link at the top of this column for our many, many past SOWs and see if any tickle yer muse.......

Today's LittleNip:

“The clearest way into the universe is
through a forest wilderness.”—John Muir

Follow the music of the trees.
Follow the music of the birds.
Follow the music of the
ever-deepening winds

that pull you deeper
into the waiting universe
of mind, and heart, and soul,
to where the promised love is.