Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Only Love Knows Love

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


in the guise love always takes, so good to look upon
with eyes that can’t refuse. And the mouth—the mouth
with its lies, so beautiful to hear, like completions of
the self. And the hands—the hands with their tremble.
How you loved those hands. And remember how you
danced together, body to body, perfectly. The music
loved you. Oh, it was wonderful, this beginning, the
competition, the surrender—which to which. Where
draw the line that is an answer. True, love had its mo-
ments—love, the survivor of itself—and even when
it’s finished—all those memories…



Darling, I love the lie upon your silken
mouth, your abstract kiss,
the practiced way you mold your syllables.

And I love the way you dwindle into pout
that I must coax with my own kiss
when you must pout me to your way.

And, Darling, I do believe the things you say,
though I watch your eyes, the way you
somehow twist in slight response

and fix your charm
upon me once again with one more lie
of love,   love,   love.

 I Wuv You


You are my love poem
you funny ballet-dancer
and sad-eyed star
of tragedies.

How late you are
to my role
of audience.
I confuse myself with art
and applaud your performance,
write you a fan letter,
this poem.

(first pub. in Red Cedar Review
of Colorado, 1993)



You were my Valentine—
you held me to your broken heart
and said, don’t leave me.

How we beat there—safe together
for a moment—right words hiding
all around us in silent phrases.

 I Love Me, Too


How much of love is desperation? Answers are free
and mean nothing. Ask me another question, I will lie
to you since truth is moot. Or I will ignore you and go
on writing . . .

Once I was a slate of words. You scraped a fingernail
across me and sound was born. We cannot stand each
other . . .

What is the first difficulty—never mind, there is no
answer to that, either—all is perception, faulty or vain.
Whose mirror can we trust, yours or mine—they look
at each other . . .

I imagine two mirrors placed across from each other
in an empty room : a mirror filled with another mirror :
enough   to   reflect,   reflect,   reflect . . .

I promise no more questions—but what are promises
worth—to ask or give—see how quickly I lie to my
own truth . . .

Sample this love : It is a complication. You change
even as I speak,   become less,   become more . . . .

 I Love My Cat


The day smells like roses, but it is February,
and no time for love—winding its pain
around my shoulder like an arm
gone lax in carelessness. 

Now I am heavy with the weight of mutual
resignation. A scarf I wear slips down
to the floor. I push it aside with my foot.
I do not want it any more.

All the days are the same—long as arrows
that dwindle when I quit watching them.
They never arrive—they will never trust
my aim or yours.



Year after year I anthologize you, loose pages
full of smears where conversations failed,

whole pages of complicated silences,
paragraphs of lyric tears—ah—

such a book as you have become . . .

compiled of your own complexities,
your dark symbolism, your comic surprises.

It is not fair that you still argue the old points—
refuse to surrender the grievances between us….



Song becomes song, which becomes
whisper, which becomes lament.

All has been told, and told again in silences.
There is a rage that has been tamed.

Something in the eyes commands light.
Darkness cowers.

Only love knows love,
which becomes honest. This is true.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Whose tears are these
that leave my pillow cold and wet?
Whose tears are these;
what ghost would take such liberties;
what sad old love could plague me yet?
They are not mine. I have not wept.
Whose tears are these?


Thank you, Joyce Odam, for today’s poems and photos about love—love won, love lost, love denied…! This week we’re calling Love Week, partly because of Valentine’s Day, and partly because it just seems like our USA, our whole world, in fact, could use more love these days. Accordingly, our new Seed of the Week is Brotherhood. Think globally: brotherhood with your neighbors, with children, with the homeless, with your government, with other countries, with your fellow creatures (both human and otherwise, including endangered species), with all the rest of the planet. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.

Last week, technological errors caused the last two lines of Joyce’s haibun to be cut off. (I thought it was kind of cool, actually, to end with "something is watching", but it wasn't a haibun.) Here is her fine poem in its entirety, with my apologies:

—Joyce Odam

It was a creature made of light, tame and beautiful. It
came to her hand but backed away when she tried to
touch it. She could almost name it, though it made no
sound and had no definite shape. Still she recognized
it as something that she loved and used to own, though
only in a book that she cherished and had to return. It
appeared to her now on the edge of its existence. She
wanted to save it as she always had. It followed her
for this.

               something is watching
               you weep uncontrollably—
               only with regret


—Medusa (Celebrate Brotherhood!)


Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.