Another Day ~ A Work In Progress


I used to post these non-poetry WIPs on the Stories Page of the blog, but I’ve decided to share parts of them here now. Stories like Another Day, which I’ll send out to the world someday, I guess. I’d appreciate hearing what you think of these samples.

I checked my teeth and tie in the bathroom mirror, something I always do before a speaking gig.  Just making sure nothing stained or hung on them.

Taking a step backward from the row of white sinks in this hotel conference area men’s room, I scoped the front of my pants. I wanted to be sure there was no stain or something hanging out of there after using the john.  After all, I am a professional.

Giving my zipper one last security tug, I stare intently, confidently, at the guy on the other side of the glass — the guy who the crowd in the ballroom across the hall came to hear. I give a wink big enough for the back row to see and say, “It’s Showtime, baby.”

Reflected in the mirror, I see the fellow walking out of the stall directly behind me stop dead, blink, and return to the comforting warmth and safety of the chamber he just left.  I turned just in time to hear him slide of the lock and see him lift his feet from view of anyone outside the stall door.

“Whoooo,” I yell.  That howl psyched me up every time, whether I turned it loose before one of these speaking engagements or sprinting out of the stadium tunnel when I played for the Gamecocks at the University of South Carolina.

I push open the men’s room door and step out into the maroon-carpeted second floor hallway of the St. John’s Inn here in Myrtle Beach.  I can hear my audience-to-be’s hum of conversation and clinking of tableware behind the large double door across the hall.

Hmmm, that’s an awful lot of noise for 50 people.  But they always were a talkative bunch.

This afternoon, I once again would be addressing the Low Country chapter of Goose & Gander: The Society for the Preservation of First Wives and First Husbands.  Actually four out of every five of the attendees will be first wives, a sad, Book of Lamentations-quoting, and often bitter lot of church ladies from up and down the Grand Strand. But when they got a few cocktails in them, they more often than not turned into a prowling, pawing mob of howler monkeys in heat.

“Larry, how are yoooooo-eww?” I’d heard that greeting sing-sung to me by maybe ten different women in the bar the last two times I addressed this group.  One of them, Audrey Whiteapple from nearby Florence found how I was — better than her ex, Claude.  Or so she claimed as she wept to me in the uncomfortably long, but fair’s-fair post-coital quid pro quo cuddle.

Claude told her she was less than he had expected after eight years of marriage.

“That’s eight years of mopping up his muddy floors after him coming in drunk from hunting – he said–and eight years of scouring the skid marks out of his saggy-ass boxers and ten years of doing every vile, terrible thing he asked me to do, too, Larry,” Audrey said.  Yeah, vile, terrible things like what she next suggested we do.  The following morning, those vile, terrible things required me to steal a set of sheets from a housekeeping cart and surreptitiously swap them for the percale Jackson Pollack she left behind.

I limped and my lips were numb for a week after that.

I wonder if Audrey’s here this afternoon.

I’m not in this business for any real money.  That was what the NFL was supposed to be for.  So I guess I don’t feel too badly about the perks of the speechifying business.  Being Larry Jenkins–one-time Second Team All-Southeast Conference quarterback–and ONLY being Larry Jenkins, has left me with few career options.  Especially after I wrecked my throwing shoulder my first training camp with the Browns.  But I knew the truth.  Five-foot-eleven free agent quarterbacks who can’t throw the deep out pattern, even before they blow out their labrums, aren’t going to make it in the NFL.  Even in Cleveland.  The injury gave me cover back here in the Carolinas.

I wasn’t too good at math—I had tutors and a couple of exam-taking stand-ins back in college—but even I could add two and two and come up with an answer to my post-athletic career.  I decided to trade on my erstwhile fame and program-cover looks for a living.

I learned to use words like “erstwhile” from the Dale Carnegie course my agent made me take while I was rehabbing my shoulder.  He knew a loser when he saw one, too.

So here I am, twelve years after throwing my last ruptured duck incompletion in a meaningless scrimmage in someplace called Berea, Ohio.  I have become a Toyota/Kia sales associate for my Uncle Lamar and a mid-rung, well lower mid-rung, motivational speaker for myself.

So if I can catch a little affection from some woman who used to hang my face inside her locker and inside her teenaged dreams, well, maybe we both are getting what we need out of life.  At least for that moment….

My Second Poetry Collection, “One Hundred Beats A Minute,” available on Amazon


Some of you may be wondering (or not) where the heck I’ve been for the past few months. Well, once again, lots (and lots) of Hesch-type life kept me away from you as a friend and a writer during that time. What I hope is the best of those things separating us was my working away on a new collection

So it’s with some excitement and a considerable jangle of nerves that I announce the publication of my second collection of poetry, One Hundred Beats A Minute: Sixty 100-Word Poems.

You can find it in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon here:

In my first collection, Penumbra: The Space Between, I expressed my impressions on life and nature from the view of a man emerging from years of darkness into a brighter personal and artistic existence, standing astride middle age. Neither young nor old, still peering at things from the edge of shadow and light, the penumbra.

In this collection, I hope to convey impressions and imaginings of life, love, art, nature and what I see outside or inside the swirly-glassed windows of my soul. All sixty poems, the number of seconds in a minute, bound within the frame of one hundred words.

No wiggle room, exactly one hundred, or my obsessive mind gets all edgy. When I succeed, where obsession met compulsion and life met art, I squirmed in my seat, my knees and heels tended to flutter up and down from the floor and my heart beat like I’d just run a sprint of a hundred meters.

I hope the poems in One Hundred Beats A Minute give your heart and mind a rush here and there, too. Maybe even one that taps against your life’s window at, oh, say a hundred beats per minute.

Running Between the Leaves


It is that moment of the year
I see and feel the maples
beginning to scab over,
their leaves crisping
dark red as dried blood.
Now’s the time all of me
would always come most alive,
despite my testosterone
running free as coursing
tree sap each the spring.
But that was a blind running,
where this autumn harvest
of another year’s life tastes
of steel and blood. It’s in this
head-up trot and gallop,
I dodge those leaves,
momentarily suspended in air,
as they breathe their last,
musky exhalation before the
return to earth and become
whip-crackling slaves to the wind.
They run faster than I can now,
when autumn gasps and pants
in this race to winter, and I walk
my gray-haired petty pace
from day to day until this
glorious moment of remembered
life cannot light this
too brief candle anymore.

Southbound and Downwind


They hung out all summer around
the ever-shrinking pool of water
by the supermarket, with a handful
of ducks and some out-of-place gulls.
This tiny flock of Canada geese
lifted off early in the morning and
would return at dusk, sweeping low
over the late home-bound commuters
on Route 9. You can hear their
calls if you turn down the noise
in your car and in your daydreamy mind.
If you step outside some October day,
when the twelve decide to join
the hundred or so who soar above
the low autumn clouds, you can hear
their honks, quiet, louder, quiet again,
as they head for home, too.

There are the nights I’ve heard
that same crescendo, fainter though.
Faint enough, almost, for my heart to
drown it out. That’s when I shiver,
not because these autumn nights
draw a mortal cold around my shoulders,
or because a ghostly stream of Canadas
in red-eye flight to the Chesapeake,
suddenly breaks the clouds, drawing
silhouette strings across Moon’s face.
Their call, rolling ocean waves cresting
on the beach, then receding, carrying
and floating away memories, this
foam-cradled flotsam, of another year,
in the downwind flight to each
our own winter.

A long-needed free-write, brought on by the desire to spread my own creative wings again and the sight of an amorphous wedge of geese headed mostly southward today.

Just Me Inside Another Shroud of Albany

Full length negatives of the shroud of Turin

I’m not sure I can do this anymore,
dipping my body in dripping black
and rolling around on this
white sheet of nothing,
this Shroud of Albany act
where you can see every bump,
bulge, scar on my body,
expression on my face.
I’ve forgotten the script,
my lovely lines, my directions,
my way.

And you’ve forgotten me.

I shouldn’t be surprised.
This is a fleeting world,
a virtual place in space and time
where the Me intersected with the You,
and neither of us is certain
where or when this What
of a crossing-over is…
or if it really isn’t.

So I guess I won’t fret
the fact these smudged sheets
of imagined existence have come
to this clogging end in
the stream of unconscious consciousness.
The Me has spent most of
his sentient moment alone anyway.
But then aren’t we all just alone
buried beneath our maybes and almosts,
our oughtas and coulda-if-onlys?

Maybe now I’ll forget you, too.

Or, instead of ink,
perhaps I’ll use blood.

Bleeding Time

The leaves started bleeding last night,
with no one there to watch.
This overnight metamorphosis
is as much a mystery as yesterday’s sun,
once so vigorous and sturdy
in that western sky, abruptly deciding
it was time for bed
before even I did.
The leaves started bleeding last night,
the red on the dawn side of those maples
waving a warning that the green time’s
running out, and I wasn’t there,
wasn’t able to stanch
this wound in Time.
That’s because I was bleeding last night,
dripping these red remaining hours
where once my green days ran
vigorous and sturdy toward the eastern sky.
When it was I who decided what time
it was to start my living,
even before Day did.

All My Septembers

We both arrived at the end of summer,
marking that second season’s demise
and the birth of the third, the one where
shadows learn to be longer again.
I’ve cast such shadows all of my seasons
since that first September, even though
I too scrape barely thirty days tall.
In the ninth month, this first son always
is reminded that my days diminish,
leaking light with each fallen page.
It’s then I pull this last summer sun
closer, wrap it around myself like
autumn blankets, holding off those
soon-enough slugabed sunrises, hoping
to keep the longest shadows at bay.