One-Horse Life

The red dust encrusting the streets
of my one-horse life has long
held its place in my throat,
a choking grasp on words
of love, praise, even sorrow.
It binds my ankles to the earth
in its crippling confederacy
with gravity.
What I wouldn’t give to water
at desire’s spring,
untie my tangled snubbings,
loose a whoop and mount
my dream claybank mustang life,
racing away and leaping,
dark manes flying, over
hope-toppling potholes
peppering our way.
We’d ride west, reaching
for an ever-today,
leaving behind dusty dreams,
set on almost, but never quite,
touching the horizon.

The Last Leaves



The grass has grown old outside,
its hair turned from its youthful color
to something like the dormant straw
that barely grows atop my head.
The leaves, what once-legion few remain,
skip about, carried by breezes
swirling away from their old directions
to something colder, darker.
When some of the brown pages catch
in the pale, sleeping blades,
they shiver and sing the song
of a seasonal endtime.
More and more I have such thoughts
spiraling around my head.
Close enough to touch,
but not substantive enough to grasp.
So many now crumble into dust
like dried leaves in a young man’s fists.
But when the grey straw captures one,
I caress it, put it in a special place
away from the endtime songs.
Such once-green memories
of this man’s days, mercurial,
though inexorably dimming as sunset,
I hold close to my heart,
like my last breath.

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2015.

Welcome Mat

The gray has come over the top,
drained shadow from the image
and stolen most of its color.
Cracks have formed in the window frames
and spots of some wrong color
are showing through.
Where once WELCOME shone bright
for all who approached, now a dingy,
downtrodden space frowns
where years of kicks and grinding heels
have left their marks.
In the attic, so many pieces of a life
almost lived, but really just collected,
lie forgotten in dusty corners,
lost or unrecognizable beneath
smooth gray sheets.
I live within this shell of what was
once a serviceable and attractive place,
my face. I still watch from these
filthy brown windows, trying as ever
to understand what it is, who you are,
that have always passed on by.
I understand. Shuttered as I am,
as I’ve always been, you
probably thought no one
was ever home.

The Language of the Rain

Raindrops, by Tony Webster, via Wikipedia

Sometimes, as I sit and listen
as rain raps its rhymes upon my window,
I wonder if it sounds the same on windows
looking out elsewhere in the world.
Kind of like how I wonder if a Brazilian dog
understands little Deputy next door
as he gives hell to some damp squirrels
in the pines out back.

He’s out there watching the sky now,
like he knows all this rain will end,
as it does in Dresden, Pietermaritzburg
and Exeter, and with it bring that instant
of peace before noisy life begins again.
I like to think we all understand,
that message no matter where we sit,
no matter what language we speak.
Or bark.

One Hundred Beats A Minute free today for Kindle


A little holiday giveaway.

Today only, I’m making my latest collection, One Hundred Beats A Minute, free for Kindle on

I think you’ll like this latest book, even if you’re not a big fan of poetry. Sixty small portions of verse, each only one hundred words long. Yet each one will leave your soul feeling full and satisfied. Or, if you’re like me, you can binge on the whole volume over the holiday and not feel the least bit guilty afterward.

I’d appreciate it very much if you would leave a short opinion of what you think of the book on its Amazon page. Hope you enjoy it.

It’s Been Two Years Now

It’s been two years now.

The full-face moonlight falls
in rigid rays against my body,
casting shadows so dense I can
hear them rustle the leaves
upon which they stretch.

It must be the shadows, because
there’s no cold wind to torment me
as on all the other November nights
since then.

But I would suffer them all,
the prickly chill upon my cheeks,
the waking moan of the westbound
disturbing our sleep,
just to have you with me
here one more time.

I regret all the times I’d scold you
for the midnight wake ups.
My heart playing the role
of numb somnambulist who didn’t
understand you’d be gone so soon.

Not until it was tenderized with
the club of reality from
those last visits,
when I had to assist you
into and out of the car.

Then came that last time, hefting you in
and the great weight I carried home
and sense even today, of never needing
to lift you again. Nor you lifting me.
That’s why I’m out here tonight.

I carry the gravity of your loss
in my chest. It’s a warm gravity,
so crushing I want to lie beneath it
in my shadow, in a forever dark
and never rise until we can run together
in some lovely lonely nighttimes again.

Spoils of War


The red-brown casualties drip
like blood from the oaken warriors,
who’ve yet to surrender their arms
like the maples and birches did
after the first assault of autumn winds
upon their more colorful breastworks.
The oaks know their shadow-making primacy
grows shorter with each successive march of
a hunchbacked sun from east to west.
It’s my job to collect the dead,
strip the field of their once pliant bodies,
attempting to clear nature’s land
for its winter christening, when she’ll
don a gown of white while the sun
lies in entombed, awaiting resurrection
and the redemption of spring.
Mine is a thankless task that nature
probably fails to appreciate,
which is why she casts more of her
spoils of war behind my back,
ambushing my capitulation to
time and temperature, wind-burned skin,
blistered hands and creaking joints.

Another Poem-a-Day catch-up piece for November 2015. This was one a FAST free write. (Seven minutes?)