The Return (full sequence)

The Return

1. Penelope Waits

why do I constantly
look out our window
hoping to see your ship
returning to its harbour?
 
why do I listen for the sound
of your footsteps echoing
up to our bedchamber?
 
but I know you too well
 
you've gone after
your own desires
& I'm the spider
who waits quietly
 
the thing with journeys
is that they spiral inwards
to your own dark heart
 
should you return
you'll find me here
spinning a web
to ensnare you
 
& every night I unpick it
while hungry men wait below
 
none of them
have your eyes
or your smell
 
all the heroes returned
from the wars,
except you
 
long have I dreamed
of your dark hair, tanned skin,
& sinewy form to emerge
out of the frothing sea-water
 
& into my arms
 
but I know you too well
you will come home only
when you are tired
of your journeys
 
your betrayals
your lies
 
& after so many threads
I'm tired of waiting
for our lives to begin again
 
is there anything worth
salvaging
between us?

2. Telemachus Schemes

I planned to go & find him
in my dreams a goddess
with long dark hair &
ivory skin faintly whispered
that he would return
 
I traveled but found
no word of him, just assurances
so I pace the walls of our palace
while fat old men
drink our wine
eat our food
lounge around
planning to covet my mother
in my father's house
 
they pay no attention to me
I wander unnoticed
& unchecked
 
my mother hides behind walls
picking & unpicking at embroidery
there is nothing to do
but wait
 
my father left me for the wars
I was too young to join
now that I'm older
my mother seems unsure
of my intentions
 
every day I look
to the fathomless sea hoping
to see my father's ship
negotiating the waves
 
one day I will find him
my time will come
 
3. Calypso Sings

It is surprising what a storm
throws up on the shore -
today walking along
the alabaster sands
after a tumultuous night
I found a man
 
he was bedraggled
partially clothed in seaweed
& rags, his skin tanned &
muscles on his sinewy arms
like knotted rope
 
I thought him dead
but as I watched
he coughed up seawater
so I got to my knees
& softly sang
to arouse him
 
he awoke in despair
he had lost everything -
his men, his ship,
his way home
 
I led him to my house
plying him with wine, goats cheese,
& grapes, while singing
to calm him
 
slowly I fell in love
with the scars on his back,
his long sea-bleached hair,
his moods, & his occasional
smiles
 
he explored the hidden caves
of my island, the forests
& secret waterfalls
I wanted him to forget
his family
his own people
 
I kept him here for seven years
& took him for my lover
I wanted him to love me
but his heart was already taken
 
the other gods
wanted me to throw him back
to the ocean
& he was restless
pining for his wife
 
he would sit on the beach for hours
watching the waves
slowly sobbing & staring
in the direction of his home
I knew I was no longer part
of his story
so I let him go
 
he will go back to his wife
& I will be left here
looking out to the sea
watching over him
as he sails away
hoping my charms
will keep him safe
on the ocean paths
 
he will return to his island
& win back his lost kingdom
 
I will be left here
on my own again
singing softly to myself

4. Eurylochus Laments

Curse the Gods
& all those who follow them
I am not a fatalist, but I know
we are all doomed
 
he will escape though
he always escapes
it is us who pay for it
 
we have faced a monster with six heads
eating our crew-mates, a witch
who turned us into pigs,
women with beautiful voices
trying to lure us ashore,
a giant who dashed the heads
of the crew against a cavern wall
& ate them whole, & of course
Gods seeking vengeance for his
own transgressions & deceits
 
& each time
he survives

he is my lord & king
but
 
when you gaze into the chaos
long enough
you get to see how things will
fall into place
 
he will make it home &
win back his kingdom
 
our wives, sons, & daughters
will grieve, wondering what
became of us
 
all will marvel at his survival;
the story of the lost sea-wanderer
emerging like Orpheus
out of the Land of the Dead
sparing no thought for us
 
we will be lost
amongst the waves,
scattered across these islands
& forgotten
 
he will return
& sacrifice us all for it

5. Athena Watches

it was not meant to happen like this
he wasn't meant to take so long
to get home
 
events can spiral
even out of our reach
when you play everyone
like puppets the strings
can get tangled
 
the human race is nothing but story
individual lives
threads of narrative
to be told in the dark night
by the roaring bonfire
under a black sky burning
with bright stars
 
we gods know this
& yet we also know
that we are part of this story too;
a story within a story
 
I contrived for everything
to turn out the way I wished
yet the path always branches
onto an infinite number of
other paths to take
 
he was imprisoned on that island
for so long I told her
she had to let him go

 when he does return
he will be alone
there will be reunions &
reconciliations & bloodshed
 
I have done my best
to set things right
 
yet there are always other pathways

6. Odysseus Returns

Saltwater is in my blood -
most of my life has been spent
in the sea or boats

after Troy fell
it was a rough journey home
every day I dreamed
to return to the rocky shores
of my kingdom

to see it's olive trees & quiet bays
& wander the long hill-paths

she held me captive for years
& slowly I fell for her charms
but then she told me I had to go

she gave me a sharp axe &
I built a boat from the tall
alders, poplars, & firs
on her island, once it
was finished she loaded
it with pomegranates, goat's
cheese, apples, & wine
& then off I went sailing
the oceans paths home

when I returned I was alone,
there were parasites living
in my house
eating my food,
drinking my wine &
after I killed them all
I was king again

with a people I no longer recognise
or understand

a young man calls me father
watching me intently with every step

& my wife
is not her
not the woman I left

she has erected walls within walls
I cannot find my way through her labyrinth
she kept suitors out of our bed for so long
she has grown used to the solitude

every night I dream
I am lying on the white sand
listening to the waves rolling lazily ashore
& she is there
standing over me
softly singing
while a breeze blows through
her long brown hair

then I awake
it is still dark
& I hear my wife
muttering in her sleep

on the wind
I can hear the waves
calling me to sail again -
saltwater is in my blood


Joanne Fisher



It’s nice to see it all together.

Please support this blog – Ko-fi 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Odysseus Returns, The Return/6 (poem)

b3401

 

Odysseus Returns

 

 

Saltwater is in my blood –

much of my life has been spent

in the sea & boats

 

after Troy fell

it was a rough journey home

every day I dreamed

to return to the familiar rocky shores

of my kingdom

 

to see it’s olive trees & quiet bays

& wander the long hill-paths

 

she held me captive for years

& slowly I fell for her charms

but she told me I had to go

 

she gave me a sharp axe &

I built a boat from the tall

alders, poplars, & firs

on her island, once it

was finished she loaded

it with pomegranates, goat’s

cheese, apples, & wine

& so off I went sailing

the oceans paths home

 

when I returned I was alone,

there were parasites living

in my house

eating my food,

drinking my wine &

after I killed them all

I was king again

 

with a people I no longer recognise

or understand

 

a young man calls me father

watching me intently with every step

 

& my wife

is not her

not the woman I left

 

she has erected walls within walls

I cannot find my way through her labyrinth

she kept suitors out of our bed for so long

she has grown used to the solitude

 

every night I dream

I am lying on the white sand

listening to the waves rolling lazily ashore

& she is there

standing over me

softly singing

while a breeze blows through

her long brown hair

 

then I awake

it is still dark

& I hear my wife

muttering in her sleep

 

on the wind

I hear the waves

calling me again –

saltwater is in my blood

 

 

Joanne Fisher

 

This is the sixth and final part of my Odyssey sequence.

1. Penelope Waits

2. Telemachus Schemes

3. Calypso Sings

4. Eurylochus Laments

5. Athena Watches

 

 

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

©2020 Joanne Fisher

Athena Watches, The Return/5 (poem)

b3457
athena by jefea zero

 

Athena Watches

 

it was not meant to happen like this

he wasn’t meant to take so long

to get home

 

events can spiral

even out of our reach

when you play everyone

like puppets the strings

can get tangled

 

the human race is nothing but story

individual lives

threads of narrative

to be told in the dark night

by the roaring bonfire

under a black sky burning

with bright stars

 

we gods know this

& yet we also know

that we are part of this story too;

a story within a story

 

I contrived for everything

to turn out the way I wished

yet the path always branches

onto an infinite number of

other paths to take

 

he was imprisoned on that island

for so long I told her

she had to let him go

 

when he does return

he will be alone

there will be reunions &

reconciliations & bloodshed

 

I have done my best

to set things right

 

yet there are always other pathways

 

 

Joanne Fisher

 

This is part five of my Odyssey sequence The Return.

1. Penelope Waits

2. Telemachus Schemes

3. Calypso Sings

4. Eurylochus Laments

 

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

©2020 Joanne Fisher

Eurylochus Laments, The Return/4 (poem)

b3405
Ulysses and the Sirens by Herbert James Draper

 

Eurylochus Laments

 

 

Curse the Gods

& all those who follow them

I am not a fatalist but I know

we are all doomed

 

he will escape though

he always escapes

it is us who pay for it

 

we have faced a monster with six heads

eating our crew-mates, a witch

who turned us into pigs,

women with beautiful voices

trying to lure us ashore,

a giant who dashed the heads

of the crew against a cavern wall

& ate them whole, & of course

Gods seeking vengeance for his

own transgressions & deceits

 

& each time

he survives

 

he may be my lord & king

but

 

when you gaze into the chaos

long enough

you get to see how things will

fall into place

 

he will make it home &

win back his lost kingdom

 

our wives, sons, & daughters

will grieve, wondering what

became of us

 

all will marvel at his survival;

the story of the lost sea-wanderer

emerging like Orpheus

out of the Land of the Dead

sparing no thought for us

 

we will be lost

amongst the waves,

scattered across these islands

& forgotten

 

he will return

& sacrifice us all for it

 

 

Joanne Fisher

 

Only four other sailors in The Odyssey are actually named. Eurylochus is the second in command and is the most bolshy of all of them, which is why I used him as the voice for the other sailors.

 

This is part Four of my Odyssey sequence The Return.

1. Penelope Waits

2. Telemachus Schemes

3. Calypso Sings

 

Thanks to Charli Mills for the coffees. It enabled to buy some food. Much appreciated.

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

©2020 Joanne Fisher

 

Calypso Sings, The Return/3 (poem)

b3406

Calypso Sings

 

It is surprising what a storm

throws up on the shore –

today walking along

the alabaster sands

after a tumultuous night

I found a man

 

he was bedraggled

partially clothed in seaweed

& rags, his skin tanned &

muscles on his sinewy arms

like knotted rope

 

I thought him dead

but as I watched

he coughed up seawater

so I got to my knees

& softly sang

to arouse him

 

he awoke in despair

he had lost everything –

his men, his ship,

his way home

 

I led him to my house

plying him with wine, goats cheese,

& grapes, while my singing

calmed him

 

slowly I fell in love

with the scars on his back,

his long sea-bleached hair,

his moods, & his occasional

smiles

 

he explored the hidden caves

of my island, the forests

& secret waterfalls

I wanted him to forget

his family

his own people

 

I kept him here for seven years

& took him for my lover

I wanted him to love me

but his heart was already taken

 

the other gods

wanted me to throw him back

to the ocean

& he was restless

pining for his wife

 

he would sit on the beach for hours

watching the waves

slowly sobbing & staring

in the direction of his home

I knew I was no longer part

of his story

so I let him go

 

he will go back to his wife

& I will be left here

looking out to the sea

watching over him

as he sails away

hoping my charms

will keep him safe

on the ocean paths

 

he will return to his island

& win back his lost kingdom

 

I will be left here

on my own again

singing softly to myself

 

 

Joanne Fisher

 

 

This is part three of my Odyssey sequence The Return.

1. Penelope Waits

2. Telemachus Waits

 

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

b3407

 

 

©2020 Joanne Fisher

 

Telemachus Schemes, The Return/2 (poem)

b3377
Jan Styka – Telemachus Invites Theoclymenus to His Boat

 

 

Telemachus Schemes

 

I planned to go & find him –

in my dreams a goddess

with long dark hair &

ivory skin faintly whispered

that he would return

 

I traveled but found

no word of him, just assurances

so I pace the walls of our palace

while fat old men

drink our wine

eat our food

lounge around

planning to covet my mother

in my father’s house

 

they pay no attention to me

I wander unnoticed

& unchecked

 

my mother hides behind walls

picking & unpicking at embroidery

there is nothing to do

but wait

 

my father left me for the wars

I was too young to join

now that I’m older

my mother seems unsure

of my intentions

 

every day I look

to the fathomless sea hoping

to see my father’s ship

negotiating the waves

 

one day I will find him

my time will come

 

 

Joanne Fisher

 

 

This is part two of my Odyssey Sequence.

Part One – Penelope Waits

 

 

This first appeared on my blog in February 2018.

 

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

©2020 Joanne Fisher

Penelope Waits, The Return/1 (poem)

b3402
Penelope and the Suitors by John William Waterhouse

 

Penelope Waits

 

why do I constantly

look out our window

hoping to see your ship

returning to its harbour?

 

why do I listen for the sound

of your footsteps echoing

up to our bedchamber?

 

but I know you too well

 

you’ve gone after

your own desires

& I’m the spider

who waits quietly

 

the thing with journeys

is that they spiral inwards

to your own dark heart

 

should you return

you’ll find me here

spinning a web

to ensnare you

 

& every night I unpick it

while hungry men wait below

 

none of them

have your eyes

or your smell

 

all the heroes returned

from the wars,

except you

 

long have I dreamed

of your dark hair, tanned skin,

& sinewy form to emerge

out of the frothing sea-water

 

& into my arms

 

but I know you too well

you will come home only

when you are tired

of your journeys

 

your betrayals

your lies

 

& after so many threads

I’m tired of waiting

for our lives to begin again

 

is there anything worth

salvaging

between us?

 

 

Joanne Fisher

 

 

First published in JAAM.

This poem first appeared on my blog in February 2018.

 

This is the first part of a sequence which retells the Odyssey through the eyes of various characters in it. When I was child, the Odyssey was read to me (a prose version intended for children), so it’s a story I’ve been familiar with for most of my life.

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

©2020 Joanne Fisher

The Return: Full Sequence (poem)

1928

I thought I would publish my sequence The Return finally in its entirety. I first began writing this ten years ago and for a long time it just sat uncompleted. I think that’s been one of the positive things about starting this blog on WordPress as it’s given me the energy (and a reason) to finally complete some unfinished works.

 

The Return

 

1. Penelope Waits

 

why do I constantly

look out our window

hoping to see your ship

returning to its harbour?

 

why do I listen for the sound

of your footsteps echoing

up to our bedchamber?

 

but I know you too well

 

you’ve gone after

your own desires

& I’m the spider

who waits quietly

 

the thing with journeys

is that they spiral inwards

to your own dark heart

 

should you return

you’ll find me here

spinning a web

to ensnare you

 

& every night I unpick it

while hungry men wait below

 

none of them

have your eyes

or your smell

 

all the heroes returned

from the wars,

except you

 

long have I dreamed

of your dark hair, tanned skin,

& sinewy form to emerge

out of the frothing sea-water

 

& into my arms

 

but I know you too well

you will come home only

when you are tired

of your journeys

 

your betrayals

your lies

 

& after so many threads

I’m tired of waiting

for our lives to begin again

 

is there anything worth

salvaging

between us?

 

2. Telemachus Schemes

 

I planned to go & find him

in my dreams a goddess

with long dark hair &

ivory skin faintly whispered

that he would return

 

I traveled but found

no word of him, just assurances

so I pace the walls of our palace

while fat old men

drink our wine

eat our food

lounge around

planning to covet my mother

in my father’s house

 

they pay no attention to me

I wander unnoticed

& unchecked

 

my mother hides behind walls

picking & unpicking at embroidery

there is nothing to do

but wait

 

my father left me for the wars

I was too young to join

now that I’m older

my mother seems unsure

of my intentions

 

every day I look

to the fathomless sea hoping

to see my father’s ship

negotiating the waves

 

one day I will find him

my time will come

 

3. Calypso Sings

 

It is surprising what a storm

throws up on the shore –

today walking along

the alabaster sands

after a tumultuous night

I found a man

 

he was bedraggled

partially clothed in seaweed

& rags, his skin tanned &

muscles on his sinewy arms

like knotted rope

 

I thought him dead

but as I watched

he coughed up seawater

so I got to my knees

& softly sang

to arouse him

 

he awoke in despair

he had lost everything –

his men, his ship,

his way home

 

I led him to my house

plying him with wine, goats cheese,

& grapes, while singing

to calm him

 

slowly I fell in love

with the scars on his back,

his long sea-bleached hair,

his moods, & his occasional

smiles

 

he explored the hidden caves

of my island, the forests

& secret waterfalls

I wanted him to forget

his family

his own people

 

I kept him here for seven years

& took him for my lover

I wanted him to love me

but his heart was already taken

 

the other gods

wanted me to throw him back

to the ocean

& he was restless

pining for his wife

 

he would sit on the beach for hours

watching the waves

slowly sobbing & staring

in the direction of his home

I knew I was no longer part

of his story

so I let him go

 

he will go back to his wife

& I will be left here

looking out to the sea

watching over him

as he sails away

hoping my charms

will keep him safe

on the ocean paths

 

he will return to his island

& win back his lost kingdom

 

I will be left here

on my own again

singing softly to myself

 

4. Eurylochus Laments

 

Curse the Gods

& all those who follow them

I am not a fatalist but I know

we are all doomed

 

he will escape though

he always escapes

it is us who pay for it

 

we have faced a monster with six heads

eating our crew-mates, a witch

who turned us into pigs,

women with beautiful voices

trying to lure us ashore,

a giant who dashed the heads

of the crew against a cavern wall

and ate them whole, & of course

Gods seeking vengeance for his

transgressions & deceits

 

& each time

he survives

he always survives

 

he is my lord & king

but

 

when you gaze into the chaos

long enough

you get to see how things will

fall into place

 

he will make it home &

win back his lost kingdom

 

our wives, sons, & daughters

will grieve, wondering what

became of us

 

all will marvel at his survival;

the story of the lost sea-wanderer

emerging like Orpheus

out of the Land of the Dead

sparing no thought for us

 

we will be lost

amongst the waves,

scattered across these islands

& forgotten

 

he will return

& sacrifice us all for it

 

5. Athena Watches

 

it was not meant to happen like this

he wasn’t meant to take so long

to get home

 

events can spiral

even out of our reach

when you play everyone

like puppets the strings

can get tangled

 

the human race is nothing but story

individual lives

threads of narrative

to be told in the dark night

by the roaring bonfire

under a black sky burning

full of stars

 

we gods know this

& yet we also know

that we are part of this story too;

a story within a story

 

I contrived for everything

to turn out the way I wished

yet the path always branches

onto an infinite number of

other paths to take

 

he was imprisoned on that island

for so long I told her

she had to let him go

 

when he does return

he will be alone

there will be reunions &

reconciliations & bloodshed

 

I have done my best

to set things right

 

yet there are always other pathways

 

6. Odysseus Returns

 

Saltwater is in my blood –

most of my life has been spent

in seawater & boats

 

after Troy fell

it was a rough journey home

every day I dreamed

to return to the rocky shores

of my kingdom

 

to see it’s olive trees & quiet bays

& wander the long hill-paths

 

she held me captive for years

& slowly I fell for her charms

but she told me I had to go

 

she gave me a sharp axe &

I built a boat from the tall

alders, poplars, & firs

on her island, once it

was finished she loaded

it with pomegranates, goat’s

cheese, apples, & wine

& so off I went sailing

the oceans paths home

 

when I returned I was alone,

there were parasites living

in my house

eating my food,

drinking my wine &

after I killed them all

I was king again

 

with a people I no longer recognise

or understand

 

a young man calls me father

watching me intently with every step

 

& my wife

is not her

not the woman I left

 

she has erected walls within walls

I cannot find my way through her labyrinth

she kept suitors out of our bed for so long

she has grown used to the solitude

 

every night I dream

I am lying on the white sand

listening to the waves rolling lazily ashore

& she is there

standing over me

softly singing

while a breeze blows through

her long brown hair

 

then I awake

it is still dark

& I hear my wife

muttering in her sleep

 

on the wind

I can hear the waves

calling me to sail again –

saltwater is in my blood

 

Joanne Fisher

 

1931