Odyssey

Odyssey long poem

Photo by lylevincent

after turning on the front porch light
they laid poison around the flowerstems
at dusk
got their bellies comfortable
with the moist dark dirt

the snails came as ships
creating their own waves
sailing out of their own shadows
slow with hunger
leaving a mucoid wake

left alone the buccaneer moluscs
would glide to the stalks
climb the sharp fibers
unfurl their mouth parts
eat the young buds

so the boys waited
not speaking
while the history of life
played out slow steady
half a centimeter per second

death arrived at some point
a kind of dew falling after midnight
the breath of a sour wind
a glutton with no sense of taste
it hunkered behind the boys to watch

cold came next
squeezed out of the buttery light
froze into a barrier against sleep
but not against dreams
the boys blinked slowly

pirate boys
gazing on the rich merchantman sails
round shells flattened
in the one dimensional light
each boy dreamed his friend’s dream

that spicy scent of gunpowder
and men pent up close
linseed oil and animal fat
a ship is a stinking thing
pinned to the ever clean ocean

the officers are near onto twins
a mahogany darkness in them
they rise when the wind changes
attuned to the tilt of the deck
they rise whether moon stars or dark

wind sings in the ropes and sails
rhythmic often though sometimes shrill
hull and keel groan and underpin
depending on the course then
the officers listen and tune the rig

day and night are full of dreams
treasure always
dripping, spilling gold coins unset pearls
teardrop gems in every color
and time unlimited and rich

sometimes though dreams shift
to calico and gingham
light dresses spinning skirts on soft breezes
with straight soft hair to match
never faces but smiles brighter than shells

they don’t know why
they chase the smiles harder than treasure
driving their dreamships and crews
angry at each other
no way to divide such a prize

they sail over chasms and into shallows
the dead are there
oceans floored and flavored with decay
no one on the ship knows how to swim
they climb up the masts and shiver

one day at dusk they sight the treasure fleet
plump and slow
wallowing almost becalmed
they raise every scrap of sail
they whistle for a wind that doesn’t come

at morning the fleet is gone
ocean empty of ships sky empty of clouds
a perfect light floods the world
sun gone silver
as if it had traded places with the moon

water gone gray
the shade of cheap metal
and just as hard in its stillness
the air turns cold
they put on every article of clothing they own

night comes as perfect dark
they tell stories about their future lives
to keep each other warm
this one will own a sugar cane plantation
this one will move to the desert

hours and days go by
they lose all reckoning without stars
the moon ate the sun and burnt up
the legend flares through the lower decks
as the last bit of lamp oil is consumed

once so strong
the ship’s wooden hull calcifies in the ocean
its substance freezes in flakes
clatters to the solid surface
melts into the implacable plane

when the boys wake
they feel their chins
surprised to have emerged so young
even if stiff and damp
they study each other and gasp

up their arms and over their clothing
glyphs were drawn
waist-spanning loops and staccato peaks
beautiful and meaningless
they are both covered

the snail bait is untouched
as the sun rises the wind rises
flowers bow briefly in greeting
or perhaps to thank the boys for their vigil
or acknowledge death as it melts away

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GlenDodge

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a poet from Seattle Washington USA. His poetry has appeared in print in publications such as Bellowing Ark, Point Nopoint, and most recently in Contraposition magazine. When not writing poetry he is a Human Resources professional, a repentant glutton, and a novelist specializing in the weird-fiction genre.
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Nadeem Qazilbash
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A boys life, from the front porch starts the long vigil.

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