—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises
Follow your nose, hands behind your back,
to prove your balance.
Mosey past the opinionating people
who would sway you with their revisionings.
You alone know the path of your objective . . .
Scoff at the crass graffiti of their judgment
else become the putty for their shaping of you,
else become every mixed metaphor
of all the detours they would have you take.
Thanks to Joyce Odam for today's contributions about our current Seed of the Week: Off the Beaten Path, and for giving us our new SOW: Detours. Detours take you off the beaten path, but often it's not your choice. Hospitalizations, getting fired, flunking out of school, divorce, deaths—these are things that send us spinning off our plans, often into areas unexplored, unknown, unwanted—or with surprisingly pleasant results, sometimes. Think about it; write about it; send the results to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.
The new issue of Convergence is available online; click on it on the b-board or go to www.convergence-journal.com/summer11 Next deadline is Jan. 5.
And I hope you haven't forgotten about our final rattle-read at The Book Collector tomorrow night, 1008 24th St., Sac., 7:30pm. Ann Wehrman and Michelle Kunert will be releasing new publications from Rattlesnake Press. Be there!—it's FREE!
An old man
crossed the field to the house
where he asked at the door,
“A pity, please,
for I am tired of wilderness.
I have grown up wise but lonely.”
The woman there
looked at his hands which were strong
at his eyes which were kind
at his height which was average
and she asked him in.
She told him stories while he praised her food.
Hers was the last house on the road.
“And where are your children?” he asked.
“Oh? One if off in the berry patch . . .
one is lying on the small hill
and dreaming at the sky . . .
and one is tangling in the stone field
with a playful lover.”
She asked him, of course, to stay the night.
In the morning she found him sleeping in a chair
facing the sunrise which was softening his face.
She fell in love with him.
He woke and told her a dream:
how he believed he was first a boulder,
and then a path of traveled stones,
and then a mass of sand which could go no farther.
(first published in Bitterroot)
(based on Aerial I, oil on canvas, 2003, Erin Noel)
From here, a numbered painting—
no detail—just circles and
squares marked with plane-shadow,
an unfamiliar landscape on a travel map.
To get there, one has to cross seven mountains,
three rivers made of winding and a much-used
sky-path—high enough for geese.
If you have come this far, you are homesick—
long for that small blue square to pull you down,
be a place you recognize something to land for.
Brooding alone by a marshy pond. Sitting among the
shadows. A strange position. No grief but hers. Made
of love. Hate. Her thoughts trapped. A thicket-bird
sings out. Then another. Openings of light through the
trees. Shadows tangle in the undergrowth. Dense. Like
sorrow. Who will come, if not love. Repentant.
Something holds her. Small movements in the fetid
water. Spears of water grass. Tiny nibbles of last sun-
light. Water circles pull at her foot. Her arms brace
against falling. The trees murmur, close in. Her body
sags. Where is the path? Does she care?
IN A JAPANESE GARDEN
I would like to be
alone with my thoughts—
let them find me—
while I stare at a stone
or a leaf
and feel the path wander
away from my feet
feel the sky
feel no other
near . . .
as I enter
the mind of the mind of the mind . . .
(first published in Poets Forum Magazine)
A SOUNDLESS MOMENT
A lone black bird on a sudden quiet path—south
to north across the field outside my window as I
glance out at just this moment of this day—the
field a makeshift canvas of brimming shade in sun-
light—how sharp its flight against that shadow/wash
of gold—how quick and silent on the morning.
(first published in Manzanita Quarterly)
He holds her now in the whispering night of memory—
remembers her young and just as serious as then, though
with a secret smile for meaning. She holds him known.
He is hers now, in the long relentless years of good
decision. They don’t ask too much of each other—
safe together in their separateness. They are like a team
of beautiful slow horses on a bordered path going the
known way back from every little trip away from home.
THE TIME OF DAY
how fast we speak
how are you
and thank you
(for more photos of that reading, go to
Medusa's Kitchen on Facebook!)