By Joseph Hesch

I’m sitting between parallels
of To and From, perched here with
the sunlit Hudson glaring in my face
and the Interstate blaring at my back.
The smell of one hundred trucks is
echoed by that smoky tug pushing
a barge upriver to the locks, and
the silver Amtrak flyer hoots
“Goodbye, Albany,” across the water,
on its way down to New York City.
As I wave adieu to the forty suns
reflected on its chain of windows,
I realize these arteries of Man’s mobility
have a common theme –
they run only North to South
and back again. How mobile is that?
The answer comes when I see
a cormorant lift from the river,
wings dripping sundrops on the chop,
and loop away – not quite west.

Another Day

By Joseph Hesch

The new sun flashes
above the horizon and,
with an autonomic blink,
another of my days goes by.
Sometimes they’re
a little slower, though.
Maybe long enough to close
my eyes and count off
a prayer:
“Give me this day
my daily breath.
Oh, and let it lead me—
just a little—
into temptation,
and we’ll worry about
my trespasses later.
Thanks. Amen.”
Then I crack my eyes open
and try to remember
what I’ve done with this breath,
as I see that another transit
of sun-across-sky is complete
and I understand I’m
one more such arc,
one more blessed respiration,
toward my completeness.

My Days These Days

By Joseph Hesch

My days these days go by like eyeblinks.
Oops, there went another one.
It’s not that there’s a whole lot
happening during those between-blinks.
In fact barely anything occurs at all,
unless you like the flashing sameness
of unedited time-lapse photography
in an empty bedroom. Sun pours
through the window and seeps across
a tan percale bedspread, illuminating
an open, half-vacant closet.
Eventually, everything goes
altogether black, the sun so bored
it takes its business
around the planetary corner.
Maybe I sleep so poorly,
awakening too many times at night,
because I worry if this is all
I’ll ever see again—darkness.
Come dawn, I blink the night
from my eyes, counting up  
even more days I’ve wasted,
worrying about wasting
my days these days.

The Day-to-Day Limited

Walt Whitman. Daguerreotype

Walt Whitman. Daguerreotype (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The twenty-somethings asked me,
“These bills, how did we earn them…when?
Where has the time gone?”
Call me in twenty years, youngsters,
should I survive that long to accept your call.
You’ll have earned a few of those answers then.
Now, though, your lives move too fast,
like trains hurtling past one another
on tracks an arm’s length apart.

You know those are windows across from you,
but there’s no way you can recognize anyone
sitting there, maybe sucking on a Red Bull,
wishing he or she was still in bed
bumped up against–or bumping up against–
that warm form in the portside sheets.
You just see a whoosh of silver-gray
flashing its own sheets of strobe-light
what-ifs and maybes. And you try not to look
too hard at it because it just ends up
hurting your eyes and sometimes your heart.

So you keep your head down,
keep trundling forward,
occasionally gasping up for a breath
and a look-see at where you are.
At your age, it’s hardly ever
to see where you’re going.
If you’re lucky, someday
somebody will tap you on the shoulder
and tell you it’s okay to step off.
You’ve reached “there.”
Problem is, is this going to be the “there”
you were expecting when you boarded?

When they left me, I pulled out my “Leaves,”
and thought: Cloud-whiskered Walt,
make me feel that young and special again,
you blessed old dreamer you.
I need your wisdom and winsome words
more than ever. We all do. Lift me
from this dark platform.
That’s the motion I wish to feel
in my body electric.
I have my ticket and I’m listening
for your robust
“All aboard!”

Like Father, Like Son

87/365 - The writing on the fridge

87/365 – The writing on the fridge (Photo credit: Micah Taylor)

I’m not my Dad, the first Joe.
I can’t build you a castle, a house,
or even a box. Wood and nails feel
as alien to my being as ingesting those
half-gestated Asian duck eggs.
I can’t scramble them, bake them
in a cake, or choke them down
in any form.

I know my limitations, and carpentry,
auto mechanics and such gifts
he almost taught me are
nice dreams for this smooth-hander,
but are as within my grasp as walking
the moon, dunking a basketball,
or entanglement in the warm limbs
of Andie MacDowell.

I can build something like houses
and castles and worlds, though,
out of words. Some even look pretty,
plumb, and even true.
I wonder if Dad would be as proud
of these skills as I always was of his.
Maybe he might think, with words, I’m
finally handier than tits on a bull.

Reluctant Poet

By Joseph Hesch

Reading my silly scribblings?  Out loud?
To people?  Besides the ones in my head?
Oh, no.  That’s the reason
I didn’t want to write poetry
in the first place.
Too personal.  Too revealing of stuff
I shouldn’t share with strangers
or even people close to me.

Too “naked-from-the-waist-down,
redfaced, hyperbolized” honesty for me.

Too “hold-me-while-express-myself-
and who-could-possibly-care-anyway?”
for anybody.  

Especially late-night
rowdy revelling recorders and
receivers of repetitive readings
requiring lots and lots of listening
to lame alliterative lines.
If you show me yours, baby,
I’ll you show you mine.
So…um, where do I sign?

Little One

By Joseph Hesch

I don’t know if I’m jealous
(well, not of her, just her way,)
but I’ve come to admire some
of how she moves through her life.
It’s as if she’s driving at night,
seeing only what her headlights reveal
of the road ahead, maybe
a little of the shoulder,
and mostly it’s on low beams.
She says it’s all she needs, since
she threw out her mirrors.
“Don’t need to look back at what I
already saw,” she told me once.
Oh, sure, there have been times when
she’s hit potholes, possums, and
broken glass, even slid off the
roadside a once or twice.
Doesn’t stop her, though; she just
turns her wheels back toward
“Out There,” and maybe flips on the
high beams and steps on the
gas a little harder for a mile.
She says she’s not in any
hurry to get anywhere.
The fun of life is in the
getting, the Little One feels.
Maybe that’s what I admire.