Scott K. Odom is a detective with a Sheriff's Department on the Central Coast of California. His poetry has appeared or is appearing in Gulf Coast, The New York Quarterly, Pleiades, The Yalobusha Review, and others. He lives in Cambria, California, with his wife and daughter. If you'd like to see more of his poetry, or get to know his artwork, visit his website, http://thedishwasherstears.blogspot.com/
Here put a piece of something nice
& here a bone, some gristle.
For contrast. For what matters.
Down by the lake sunlight dazzles.
An anxious mother shades her eyes,
skinny kids on an oil-can raft squeal
and leap into the sweet blue.
In the woods dark creatures stop in their tracks
before moving on. It takes a killing heart
to get what needs doing in this world.
I remember listening to your guitar in the long hours,
smoking, saying nothing. It was a way you had.
Nobody could touch that.
Now toward dusk blackbirds take wing,
the screen door slams, a glass shatters,
a woman runs out to the dogwood tree,
a man's voice rings in the sky like the crack
of a rifle.
Where would you be in all this,
had it gone differently
from the way it did.
There's no way
of telling now.
Listen to the birds—
how they make harsh music, a glad
noise in the sky.
The Reichenberg Variations
Last night I dreamed
of your immaculate kitchen
with a dozen new refrigerators, all white, all aglow with fifty-watt
lightbulbs, alligators of the new millennium, a cheese wedge,
a green cretin, a lampblack's smudges on the cruciform trees
that ring the backyard where lengthening shadows played a game
with intricate rules—a dull nod to the present,
a present left on a table, an ashtray of glass in the hand
of a man who knows better:
a cauldron, a butter churn, a smart navy
blazer, and a boat full of gravy.
It's dark now, the hot tub's gone cold, the company
have tumbled over the railing and are snagged in the underbrush,
their skins unzipping along torsion lines, underwear
filling with blood a new moon.
Your aunt has her reasons, a man
for all seasons is hanging from a beech tree eating
a peach pit laughing his glasses off.
I dreamed last evening of your kitchen,
immaculate and gleaming
safe in a circle of light.
Our shadows writhed in ecstasy
then grew invisible in the darkness that overtook
each individual creation.
We believed then that we were real, we were all
convinced of it.
The pigeon that has leapt
from the edge of the roof
and landed in the dirt
is on fire. He's left
a smudge on the earth and
a plume of smoke against the sky.
He flaps around under the hedge
a confused warble that rises
with the smoke. I stand by my car
and look around to see who else might be
witnessing this strange sight, this
aberration. But we are, the two of us,
alone. Soon, the pigeon has stopped flapping
and the smoke has dissipated
in the cold air. I peer
into the foliage but I can't see a thing.
It's dark and the only sound
is the rattle of dead leaves
as wind moves the branches.
If he's in there somewhere, I can't tell.
I know what you're thinking.
None of this is happening.
My imagination's working overtime.
Could be you're right.
I get in the car and drive off slowly,
checking the rearview all the while;
half disbelieving, half hoping
to catch a glimpse of a shape in the sky
as it rises.