Two Joy Odes by william erickson

Joy Ode

From the center of a small town a well sings of all the children that have fallen in. It is a sad song—there are many children—but a beautiful song, and in the constant din of stars it sounds like love would sound if love could be an echo. But love is not an echo. Love is a staircase in a meadow whose shadow tells the time. If you listen to its song the well will beg you not come and as you come the song grows low and soft and secret. We do not know what things are real. In winter we cut down the trees because they look too much like us.

Joy Ode

Every day my joy puts on the tomato costume. Every day I stroll through the garden, wink at the bees, the stone steps bedding the river of my body. Once, I sewed magnolia leaves into a cape. All of us pretend to be ourselves and in pretending never notice that a self is just a seed inside a burlap sack. I slice my joy into uneven halves, and when I rinse the knife I wound the water.


william erickson is a living poet. His work appears in Sixth Finch, Heavy Feather, West Branch, and other pubs. william is a 2023 Best New Poet nominee, and his debut collection is forthcoming with April Gloaming in 2024. He lives in Washington with his partner and their two pups in an old house across the street from a large tree.