Tuesday, August 21, 2012

As Safe As Love

—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

They leave her standing at the win-
dow, translucent and yearning after 
them, or staring at the moonlight, 
the gray lake lapping at the night 
with silver flickerings.

It is not even a goodbye. The board-
walk echoes with the lonely sound of 
footsteps where even the shadows 
seem to make a sound—the window 
candle burning down—the receding 
men but slow depictions of each other.

The men walk away from her in the 
moonlight, into the perspective that 
disappears before they do. Their blue 
shadows lag behind. They pass another 
lighted window and look in.

A lone chair on the boardwalk faces 
backward. Someone left it there—to 
be empty—be a mystery. It sits on its 
shadow with no thought or memory. 
No meaning. It is only a chair.

The night is only as old as it remem-
bers. Everyone is young. The quiet 
lake lies silver and green and moves 
closer and closer to the boardwalk.

The conjured nude at the window 
reaches out her hand toward the 
opalescent moon and watches the 
men enter the fading eloquence of 
their desire.


—Joyce Odam

Cruel-Kind boy . . . Indifferent boy . . .
who walked with me all over summer,

who sat—bored—across from me
in the apartment hallway and kept

flicking burned-out matches against
my bare legs. And I kept saying,

stop, as we just sat around,
waiting for the next thing to do. 

He walked me out to the end of the
long dark pier on pounding ocean nights

to watch the water smash against
the pilings, then swirl against the shore.

And we would stand there, silent, feeling
the roar and swaying of the world, 

and I felt helpless, but trusting. 
That summer is full of him—a child—

a moody friend—a man-to-be, 
whose thoughts I could never read—

a spirit boy who held my hand in essence
and took me through the summer.  


—Joyce Odam

Cool here.
Musty smelling.
Irregular sloshing sounds.
Shadows move against each other.
Sounds swill, and muffle, and recede.
Flashings of color glint and then disappear.
There is an eerie oneness that owns this place.
The dark pilings seem to move, yet do not move.
The air narrows, confuses, gets locked under
the pier. The slow, gray churning seems
to make ready for the sea, which
bides—until it swells and
reaches—backs off,
and all begins

(first pub. in Senior Magazine, July 2009)

 —Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam

He probably just wants to be
left alone to jog back and forth
along the small stretch of beach,
flexing his skin against the air—
old as the sea itself,
leaving his small pile of clothes
folded upon the sand
to run with his crooked, old-man
run down the narrow distance.

And when he turns his head
the gulls are there in a possessive
flurry—surrounding him.
And he sits on a throne of sand
among them—cross-legged—
turning bronze—the gulls
making small cries of beg
before moving off to the
sloshing water’s edge,
muddy with effort to make a tide.


—Joyce Odam

You are the white island I see in the dream—
the dot in the distance—the sea calm,

white breakers
striking the beach with no sound.

I want to go there, but distance always
recedes—pulling farther away.

Then sea birds cry
and I waken.


—Joyce Odam

We walk out
to the end of the pier.
The sea is wild and loud.
The writhing water swells
and breaks against the pilings.

We lean out
to watch the force
and feel the vertigo,
the hampered water
loud and terrible to hear.

We chill,
the thrill repelled,
the magnitude become too much.
We shiver back
to where ground holds—

to where perspectives fit again
our smaller scope,
our separate selves
returned to each—
as late as time, as safe as love.


Today's LittleNip:

Poets are like jam, what preserves.

—B.Z. Niditch



This week's Seed of the Week is about Firsts: first day of school, first love, first job, first poetry reading. Send your poems about Firsts to kathykieth@hotmail.com—and remember, there are no deadlines on SOWs.

 —Photo by Joyce Odam