The Closest Reach That’s Eluded My Grasp



Even though I’ve never touched that 
one saving touch to grasp in this existence, 
I’ll never stop reaching out. I’ll extend 
my inky hand into the darkness, ever hoping 
you’ll feel it to pull me into the sure
embrace I’ve faith awaits me. 
I’ll never stop reaching,  just as you’ve 
never stopped reaching out to me. 
If we are to go under it won’t be beneath 
words I’ve carelessly spilled, or choking on
loss and loneliness. I know those rebellious lines 
have brought us close, and it’s shared loss 
and loneliness that'll always lash us together. 
Just not side-by-side. 

The Last Time I Saw Your Face



The last time I saw your face, 
I couldn’t see it all. 
It wasn’t that you were in profile, 
or lowered your chin in sadness, 
though sadness stalks your eyes 
too often, just waiting there 
for a sag of your shoulder to pounce.
No, the last time I saw your face 
we wore masks for Christmas, 
perhaps to see New the Year, perhaps 
to see one another again at all.

But I know the last time 
I saw your face, your eyes told me 
a smile was crossing its Tropic of Capricorn, 
since I’d come back safe from my own 
Tropic of Cancer. And I held 
your face close, its Equator to mine, 
our cheeks at anchor for a long moment,
because what if this really was to be
the last time I saw your face? 

Finally Catching Up



I know it’s never been a race, 
but I only know what it’s not.
You’ve already passed me by twice;
don’t know how many more laps I’ve got.

I’ve given up trying to catch up
as we’ve always run round and round.
Our strides so evenly match up,
but yours are swift, while mine pound.

As along I plodded, I’ve pondered 
all the laps we could have shared,
if out of my lane I wandered,
if only I’d sped up and dared.

I’m nearing the end of my run,
and I just can’t catch up to you.
Since we don’t know when we’ll be done,
here is what I thought we could do.

I’ll never get back my old zest, 
catching up I won’t even try.
So I’ll wait here and rest
and jump back in as you go by.

And as I did, you turned and said,
“Thanks for waiting ‘til I caught you.”
Seems I was the one laps ahead,
now we'll finish as we ought to.

I think it’s seamlessly ironic, knowing how I get bogged down in my real life and the hundreds of lives banging around in my head, that I’m a day late in finishing this poem. The prompt was to write a “Catch up” poem. Indeed.

Lavender and Lemon



I think it might be lavender
mixed with a little lemon zest.
The memory of how you smell
still lingers in me. Who’d have guessed?

Perhaps you. Certainly not I,
my memories now are hidden.
I think I lost them in the dust
of the desert years I’ve ridden.

All by myself, but not alone,
Imagination rode there, too.
A third shadow sometimes appeared,
so suspiciously shaped like you.

When it cast itself on the sand
the desert would begin to bloom.
Instead of the dust and dried sage,
the air was filled with your perfume.

At least that’s what I could recall
as each sundown you rode away.
Even sleep would leave me alone
all night as I daydreamed you’d stay.

Now I’m old, and rely upon
your grace for any second chance
to leave loneliness just once more,
and between us its vast expanse. 

That’s all I ask, just to get close,
close enough to finally see
if lavender and lemon were
what you wore, or hopeful fantasy.

Since I’m a day behind, I combined two prompts today -- a second chance poem and one using the sense of smell. 

Feefle to a Flindrikin



Whenever I think back to those simple times, 
when life was just a run from one sunup 
to the next sundown or so, I try to recall 
whatever joy attends those memories.
I remember pain, hurt, aching embarrassment, 
fear, scars aborning, loneliness, longing 
and mourning.

And I’m put in mind of the Inuit People, 
who supposedly have maybe fifty different words 
for the concept of Snow, whether it’s falling, 
used to make water, if it’s just lying there 
on the ground or if it’s the kind you sink into. 
I suppose I can come up with maybe fifty words 
for those days and they don’t mean Snow, 
but have a passing resemblance to No. 

But that’s all. Nothing like the Scots, who have 
more than 400 words for what falls and befalls them
during their long dark wintertime. Compared to that, 
my view of my younger days show practically paradise. 
Maybe one of their light-snow flindrikins. I can 
at least see some sun through the flimsy of woe 
I let cast a haze over those days. 

Somewhere along the way, my life turned a feefle, 
swirling around a corner to where I can see 
another brighter sunup on the horizon.

Poem for Day 1 of Poem-a-Day April 2022. An F-title poem. Oh, yes, my friend, I was so tempted...

The Tracks We’ll Leave



The tracks they all leave 
criss-cross and follow, 
stretch and tangle and some 
just up and disappear 
as if their signatories 
ascended in some great leap 
to that better place.
And so with us on our journey 
between unknown and known, 
confused and understood, 
apathy and love, love and 
some other kind of love.
Maybe the tracks form 
at the corners of our eyes, 
where tears can pool or 
joy marks its trail 
so as not to get lost again.
Or perhaps they step 
one into the other’s 
so that it looks like 
we’re walking alone again.
But that would mean one 
following the other and 
wouldn’t it be better if, 
for at least the part before 
one set finally disappears, 
our steps walk side by side?

Refilling the Bucket Full of Nothing But Holes



The old man’s creation days 
have long since passed. 
Says he feels useless as 
a bucket full of nothing but holes.
Every day he still shuffles 
to his well of invention, 
but his arms aren’t long enough 
to reach whatever new is left 
way down that once splashing shaft.
And even if he could reach 
whatever sloshes down in the dark, 
by the time he hauled it up 
all his creation would’ve 
run through that old bucket.

This saddened and perplexed 
the old man, who judged his worth 
by what he could create.
“I’m done. I’ve no reason to go on,”
he said to his muse, who never 
gave up on her creative old man.
“You can, too, still create,” 
she told him one night in the dark, 
for this is where they did 
their best work. “If you can’t reach 
a shiny new creation, why don’t you 
create a well-polished old one 
all over again? There really isn’t 
anything new anyone pulls from the dark 
out into the sun.”

The old man spent but a minute 
pondering his Muse’s inspiration, 
because she always was the smart one, 
and said, “You know, your favorite’s
a squint-eyed look at one of Stafford’s. 
Over here’s a slant re-telling of Emily.”
And so he began to recreate the created. 
Because this is what poets do 
until they stumble over the new. 
And that’s what muses are for --
tossing inspiration out there in front 
of their old men to stumble over.

Trompe la Mort



Among the papers that I’ve kept 
to remind me of who I was, 
I found a story, and almost wept.
Not that it was sad, just…because.

Because it stirred a time so bright
when this was like respiration,
autonomic, just sit down and write,
instead of wheezing desperation.

The open vein has run its course,
I can find nothing left to bleed.
When you were my art's driving force,
of these banal rhymes I had no need.

Perhaps the old I shouldn’t see
if all they did is bring more pain.
Maybe I should just reinvent me,
and tap some imaginary vein.

No, you could tell it wasn’t real,
and more fraud than ever I’d be.
So I’ll just tap the scars I feel,
a roadmap to my heart, maybe.

I’m not that same man, no longer,
but a poet of love and light still.
I cheated his death, now I’m stronger.
Just need time, my life to refill.

If I recall, a sorta-kinda translation of the French phrase “tromp la mort” is something like “cheating death” or someone who does. And it looks like I might’ve done just that.  

Portrait of the Artist in Nine Beats



What do they see when they look at me?
I’m not sure that’s who I really am.
And if it’s not, who then could it be?
I’d like to settle this today, ma’am.

I think the structure of this guy, Me,
and I’ll betcha likely even you,
was built of stuff folks wanted to see
and I guess we wanted for them, too.

So what we have are these fine facades,
callouses made by heat and friction.
We hardly said No, mostly Yes and nods,
to feel loved, but that kind’s pure fiction.

Whenever we stepped outside our shields
and tried thinking of ourselves a little,
chaos or blame would become our yields,
so we’d jump from fire back to griddle.

I’ve grown tired of toting their good boy,
hands too full of an image to play.
The love we sought might have brought us joy,
though probably not enough, I say.

I’m calling out, so come see the real.
Just for a mo, world, but I’m trying.
I’m warm just like you, come on, just feel.
What? Must be dust. Why’d I be crying?

(Count the beats per line. ~ JH)


Even a Blizzard Can’t Hide It for Long



The famous Ides is still three days away 
and, like Caesar, maybe we should listen.
But a late-Winter storm’s dropped snow all day
on this landscape with the green still missin’.

The scene before men ruin it’s so benign,
virginal as pages ‘fore I scribbled.
Elsewhere, the tracks of men will leave their sign,
an angry ink that’s splattered, not dribbled.

Yes, the Ides is still three whole days away
and Spring, I believe, another five more.
So much ugliness snow can hide today,
but a storm’s white lies and black can’t hide war.

Sure, the wind just turned my whole view so pure,
but time and trial, truth will always reveal.
Fear of seen and unseen we must endure,
until rebirth, while messy, becomes real.