My Regret

Albany at Night

Photo by Amarshall224

Here’s my regret.
I was born in its embrace and
more than likely will be buried in it, too.
My regret’s as old as or older
than yours, I’ll bet, and once claimed
more than a hundred thousand souls.
Many walked away from her, though.
They saw futures somewhere out there,
with regrets bigger and more exciting
than this laid ready for the taking.
It’s funny about the hold
of my regret, though, here
at the crossroads of history,
where men and laws have been made,
defended and broken. She’ll never
let me go, this Albany,
my town, my regret.

I’m catching up on some missed days of Poem-A-Day April and NaPoWriMo 2014. In this lunchtime drabble I combined prompts from P-A-D and NaPo, one calling for a city poem and the other calling for me to replace a tangible noun (in this case “town,”) with an intangible one (“regret”). Did a double-switch, like a National League manager, there at the end. I hope I did them justice.

Like Bloodroot

Bloodroot
Photo by Simon Garbutt, via Wikipedia

He was fairly sure it was lost,
perhaps tossed last year
in that moment of realization
and frustration he’d had
after holding it for its twenty minutes.
He’d always dug it out and embraced
the smudged possibilities there
in its past, wiped at
the thumb-stained barrenness
of its present, then turned over
the sharp-focused realities
of its future.
What were you thinking?
he’d always ask as he stuffed the photo
into a pile of unmarked manila graves,
in the bottom of a locked drawer.
But it’s early spring,
and like pale bloodroot,
she’s come blooming again,
delicate, shallow, toxic,
beautiful.

Day 15 in the Writer’s Digest Poem-A-Day Challenge, a Two-for-Tuesday, asked for a Love or Anti-love poem. You know me. Why not both? And hence came the story of Bloodroot.

Nescio quid ergo sum

A wise man said
the opposite of Love isn’t Hate,
it’s Indifference.
By that same emotional token,
something like Indifference
might be the opposite of Hate, too.

Ergo, your indifference to me
indicates you don’t love me or hate me.
That may be a cock-eyed syllogism,
but I dropped Logic in college
when I realized studying something
that turned human thought
into a Yes/No equation
too illogical for words.

This apathy you show me
is just an example of your manners.
I’d say Thank You, but don’t
wish you to think me
the opposite of impolite.
Nescio quid ergo sum.

Catch-up day 100-word bit of nonsense brought on by the Horse Latitudes of mid-NaPoWriMo, the creative Doldrums of Poem-A-Day 2014. I dunno, the whole shebang just comes down to me crossing April’s Equator of Apathy.

Exchanging Glances ~ A Story

All I ever could muster were shy glances at them, my muddy eyes unworthy to look into her turquoise and lapis treasure rooms into which all the boys I could never be sought audience.

Whenever I saw her in the hallway, I would drop my attention to her shoes, knees, what color hosiery she wore that day. I’m sure I came across as some mumbling fetishist whenever I was in her presence. Floor tiles and I had the eye to eye relationship I dreamed of having with her. Hell, the one I wish I had with the whole world.

But one day, as I turned the hallway corner, my nose pointed to the furthermost frontiers of my footsteps, she and I collided in a mélange of arms, legs and parts hitherto unknown to my virgin, clumsy touch. The whole world turned topsy-turvy. Shamefaced, head-down, I skittered to my knees, gathering books, papers, purse contents and a view of blue tights I’d only previously seen on clotheslines.

I looked up to see her staring into my eyes. Since I’d picked up everything off the floor and nowhere in my hands could I find a pile of courage, I concentrated on the bridge of her nose. Eight, nine, ten freckles’ worth.

“You really should keep those cute brown eyes up when you’re walking, Bashful. And from now on, especially when you’re talking…to me.” she said.

Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fift…

That’s what it took, you know, when is was fourteen going on fifteen. I had to turn the world upside down to see things as she did, as they probably should be, as they eventually would be for the next thirty years with my blue-eyed treasure.

That was the day when all my looking down began looking up.

This is a very fast — and VERY LONG — free write based on a quote from Joanne Harris offered by my friend, the wonderful writer and poet Kellie Elmore. I never know where Kellie’s prompts will take me. In this case, the journey was a hell of a lot more pleasant than the destination of a completed poem or story. But, write I must, something for every day in April.

The Past and Yet-to-Be

My dawn

Do you ever think of me
on those days when bells chime
and sun shines just so?
When your ears ring and
you stand bare face to face
with day and wonder,
“How would he write this?”

Then do you curse
the thought of me,
for my brutish rabbit ways
of crash and burrow. Those times
when I‘d create dawn for you,
then shatter it with
the wrong-way shadows I cast.

Sometimes I reflect on those days,
but don’t linger
on what I cannot change.
I’m furious at tomorrow,
though, ever-moving goalposts
of unattainable yet-to-be
on this, my ever-shortening field.

One-hundred words free-written during lunch. Don’t ask, because I don’t know. But I liked the freedom and the journey of it. Oh, and it’s Day 10′s Poem-A-Day/NaPoWriMo piece.

Within Arm’s Length

From arm’s length, I cannot be your refuge,
your safe harbor in the lee of those storms
buffeting your days of slate skies,
your nights lashed by fearsome lightning.

From arm’s length, you cannot be
that stronghold in the wilderness,
the grotto in which I would seek protection
from my untamed notions and dreams.

But within the embrace this pair of arms,
you can stand with me beyond
the fearsome shadowy tiger times
from which nightmares are made.

Wrapped within four, we knit together,
hearts banked one to the other,
warm, safe, our eyes bright
like beacons in the darkness.

A Day 9 poem, my second of the day, for Poem-A-Day April 2014. This one is based on Writer’s Digest’s call for a “shelter” poem. Oh, and it’s one of my 100-word lunchtime drabbles, too.

Oh, Lonesome Me

A kind of placeholder/catch-up poem for Day 9 of April National Poetry Month. Today’s prompt for NaPoWriMo was take any random song play list (from iPod, in this case) and use the next five song titles on that randomized list in a poem.

I’ll dream up something on my own later.

Left Alone
Underneath the Stars
Miles from Nowhere
Till the Morning Comes –
Delicate

As the Poetry gods, Kismet and Dumb Luck, would have it, Serena Matthews, Kate Rusby (I want her and Alison Kraus to sing at my funeral — angel voices), Cat Stevens, Neil Young, and Damien Rice were the stars that aligned for a rather cool poem.

If the prompt had asked for the first seven songs, this would have gone over like a fart in church. Next up were Wall of Death (Richard Thompson) and Canadian Railroad Trilogy (Gordon Lightfoot). Whew!

Trailblazer

Before dawn, the old man before me
sighed when I covered his face
with white foam. He stared that look of
What have you to show for your life?,
which stung like I might have
rubbed lather too high on his cheek.
My focus slipped to the scoreboard
of my past. Visitors still led Home,
but I’ve learned it’s only a game.

I looked in his inquiring eyes,
knowing that beneath his snowy disguise
jutted hard-won lumps and crags,
the bare scars and earthy stripes.
I remembered from where each rift
and rill, was the one blazed this frontier
over sixty years. I drew its map.
As I picked up the razor, I smiled.
Then I turned out the light.

 

On this Day 8 of my Poem-A-Day 2014 and National Poetry Writing Month, I used the NaPoWriMo prompt to rewrite a famous poem, giving it my spin. My friend, Mark Stratton asked me today what my favorite poem is. I told him it’s “Ask Me” by William Stratton. Here’s my quite-Hesch take on the great American poet’s work.

Fixer-Upper

Monday broke in today,
smashed a hole in the window
of abandoned Sunday.
It put its cold steel illumination
to my throat and made me look
in the mirror again, whether I wanted to
or not.

The face framed there’d
become just another bit of landscape,
a house neglected, changing so slowly
I barely noticed in my daily visits
with razor and brush.
I know it too well,
and the resident hidden within.

Feral beer-bottle-brown eyes
stared from dark eaves beneath
the forehead façade,
discovering the change thuggish Monday
had revealed. With swift,
surprising reflection, they twinkled.
Oh boy..a fixer-upper.

A new 100-word drabble for Day 7 of my Poem-A-Day 2014. Maybe it fits the prompts set up by Robert Lee Brewer in his PAD Challenge (A self-portrait poem) or even the one from my friend Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompt based on The Thing Is, by poet Ellen Bass.

April, On My Pillow

Comes April, as day nibbles away
at both ends of night, not only
the sharper angle of sunlight
but of the dark in this room,
illuminate thoughts best buried
under the dust of years.

I don’t fear these shadows
crawling into my bed,
settling next to my head
on the pillow, because
there was a time I believed
that’s where they belonged.

I’ll take these shards of darkness
and how they wound me.
Because to see these memories
in the fleshy light of day
would empty my heart, see,
washing away the dust beneath which
these old dreams belong.

Just before I closed my eyes on this Sunday night, I quickly free-wrote this Drabble, getting me back on track with Poem 6 of Poem-A-Day April 2014.

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