Memory of Snow, Rain and Fog

At his post by the window, he sees them at dawn,
the seasonal habitués who usually sojourn here
in March or so. Three sisters, the triad manifestations
of water have come calling early and he must greet them.

Before him lies one in the form of snow,
once solid and grounded, as was he back when.
On its face it holds the story of lives and deaths,
writ in foot prints and a splotch of red.
Crows have punctuated, in deep black holes,
the final chapters of some prey left by a coyote,
while squirrels dot chains of ellipses,
linking forgotten conversations from tree to tree.

The grand smudge above cries tears like April’s,
falling from the heavens’ gray cheeks,
which float always beyond the reach of empathetic oaks,
who sag in solicitous sadness under the weight
of the skies’ drops of yet unknown future tales.
The rains wash away some of snow’s chronicle
of one year’s death and another’s birth,
like history rewritten by some usurping un-worthy.

And, between heaven and earth, glides water’s
nebulous self, a chilling fog, translucent and clean.
It smears the known, rendering the familiar
not quite so accurate, like the passage of time
does an old man’s memory. It will leave his cheeks
shining and damp, as if his crying has ended,
though he knows it’s only abated. It crawls up
and nests in the trees, as would his younger self.

That he plainly sees, as he slops back to the house,
where it’s warm and dry and his family will tsk-tsk
him about walking in weather like this.
But he stares out the window, wondering how long
until what’s left of his sojourn will dissolve,
blown away in blizzards of white, lost in
foggy gray memories, and punctuated by a grand black
!”

Too long away from inspiration and creativity. As has often been the case, if not sleep, then weather provides impetus to get back into this hard-backed saddle. Photo © 2018, Joseph Hesch. You know, me.

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The Cruelest Month

This poet says the shortest one’s
also the cruelest.
It surpasses December and January
for the coldest.
And probably unchallenged
in the monthly rankings as
the most-misspelled.
Like the word “misspelled.”
Some in the English-speaking world
never master including
that seemingly silent extra consonant.
I’m insufferable that way with my
deep pool of knowledge.
But I long ago learned
a most-valuable lesson in one of those
chilly little months.
During the short wolfish period
of my life, I did plot
to win the favors this cute girl.
She believed there were more than
those two worthy (and manly) holidays
in the second month of the year.
I forgot to recognize
THE most-important “holiday” in that month.
So, don’t be like Caesar and I,
forgetting The Ides of February,
or thereabouts. (Yes, I’m insufferably right.
You can look it up.)
By the Saints–or at least the one
whose name starts with “V”–
you’ll find she can make February
seem longer for you than merely by adding
that oft-forgotten “r.”
The cruelest month can grow colder,
and oh so crueller still.

This tortured bit of verse came about from my own tortured efforts to write ANYTHING, as I crawl my way back from my debilitating back issues and concomitant spasms of my emotional spine. So I took a list of words from an old short story prompt and tossed them against the virtual refrigerator door with some of my own. This first draft stuck. Here are the words: monthly, cute, shortest, wolfish, plot, master, world, valuable and December.

Finally Fallen

There are times I felt
like a leaf fallen from a tree,
blown away from Home,
that place from where
spring my roots.
I’d be chased by this breeze
and that, run in circles
going nowhere, tossed among
other untethered souls
awaiting burial or burning.
But I always hung on,
the sturdy one, gutting out
October, never-minding
November, shaking off
December and its snows.
I’d slip the North Wind’s
noose and start over again.
But now has come the winter
I couldn’t escape,
when I fell without a breath,
captured and held in stasis
by this cold beyond Death,
awaiting some Spring when
I will be released and forgotten
among the other scraps
blown away from Home,
where my roots have lost their hold.
Perhaps the tree will fall
without me there to hold it up.

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2018.

What Is Now Proved Was Once Only Imagined

Elohim Creating Adam
by William Blake, 1795

Sometimes, like right now,
I find myself imagining
what it would be like
to die in this seat.
I’d be biding my time,
thinking how easy this was
not so long ago. Like breathing.
I’d turn words into living things,
as if they rose from some kind
of primordial ick to stick
to my mind’s wall, where I’d
shape them into Adams or Orcs.
Maybe you’d invite some
into your home, if they promised
to wipe their trochaic feet.
Tonight I’m biding my time,
waiting for any words to bubble up,
but fearing they’re in league
with some dark spirit,
who’s waiting for unholy sacrifices
I’d make on this QWERTY altar
for even fifty of his minion.
Instead, I just sigh in this guilty ooze
with nothing to show for my efforts
but white space smeared with gook
of the gobbledy kind, imagining
part of me has died already.

I was asked to write a story using the following words: die, ago, seat, time, imagining, even, making, league, sacrifices, and rose. But I can’t write anymore. Too much pain of various kinds crippling me. So instead you get this desperate fling of muddy verse upon your computer screens. That is if more than one of you still cares to read after this achy absence. The title is a quote from William Blake.

Holiday Blues

The shadows of the trees
defy gravity as they glide
up the hill on snow and moonlight.
The full moon hangs there like
a silver plate in their branches,
bigger and brighter than
any ornament on the Christmas tree.
Its beams a soft blue glow
over the icy landscape,
the shadows inky scratches
that will record upon this new page
the first month of another year.
And I sit here, as unilluminated
as a man can be when the gloom’s
consumed him even as he’s
absorbed the gloom.
Downstairs, I hear the children,
voices bright as lustrous trumpets.
Upon their timeless reveille,
a spark floats up to this room,
by this window, into this heart,
where before all was darkness,
save for the blue on the snow
and the shadows reaching out
for me once more. But not tonight.
Tonight, their light’s found me
and they’ve saved me once more.

Photo © 2014 Joseph Hesch

The Christmas Concert

The three-year-olds stand
on little steps at the end
of the lunchroom, all sparkling
in their holiday best.
They fidget and chitter
like thoroughbreds in the gate,
waiting for the flag to drop.
As their teacher’s hand
rises and falls in time,
they shout piles of sing-song
sounds that ring of
“We Wish You a Mary Kiss-muss.”
On they gallop to the finish line
of “and a happ-pee noo year!”
Some arrive ahead of teacher’s pace,
some lag a step, yet they all shine
like Christmas stars, not noticing how
they reflect the audience’s beaming.

The Starry Night

Tonight my warm chair wrapped
itself around me in a room
illuminated by a TV
and thoughts of Christmases
I missed, though albums
of photos prove I was there.
Over in the corner stands
the new Christmas tree,
bedazzled in ornaments
of new gold, like Hanukkah gelt,
and in old silver, shiny
and cold as a dead fish
on some frozen shore.
It has yet to be lit
for more than a minute since
that angel alit on its tiptop.
So I withdrew from my chair’s embrace,
crossing the room to plug it in.
But out the window, I saw how
the moon had risen above the trees
and how it ignited swirling breaths
of snow that danced in the dark
like Van Gogh’s stars over Arles.
And above them actual stars
roamed in their courses,
as if looking for Bethlehem
or maybe even Albany.
In that moment, with stellar
guidance from light that traveled
for two thousand years,
traveled past all those nights
I spent without any Sleep to knit up
my ravell’d sleeve of care, woke
warm memories of Christmases past.
Of winking lights in blue eyes
and glittering packages as full of love
as they were knitted sweaters.