Gray Lady

By Joseph Hesch

This porch’s cracked and dry boards show
the greyness of its age through what once
was a smooth coat of russet color.
She’s like a sleepy, sunning,
henna-rinsed Palm Beach dowager,
facedown and well-done,
with the top of her bikini unhooked.
If that lady were mine, I’d make sure
she kept her SPF high and fresh
and an umbrella between her
and prying eyes.
I would call that protecting
my investment and maybe a
little neighborhood dignity.
But I live with this ragged deck instead,
and I’ve dawdled much too long,
the time for preventative protection past,
the sun leaving incurable scars
and lesions on her.
This do-it-yourself deck dermatologist
will make her back smooth and true again.
I will respectfully conduct this surgery,
in deference to the old dear’s age,
with a gentle hammer and
a dignified circular saw.

Photo by Bill Frazzetto

I posted this poem today because I haven’t done much over the past week–a week of vacation–other than work on a lengthy to-do list. I had no idea that my dVerse Poets Pub colleague Victoria Cereto-Slotto would ask for a poem based on Texture as part of her Poetics feature this afternoon.  I’d say “Gray Lady” fits the bill. Don’t you?  Careful of splinters!


I thought you were my forever muse.
When we were new, odes and heartsongs
flowed from me like exhalations.
And then, despite my obsessions,
or maybe because, you were gone.
Your golden memory faded and
so too the words I once cast
as easily as my shadow.
Just when I thought I’d never
speak to the page again,
the page spoke to me.
It called me, invited me to play,
to discourse on love and nature
and all those people in the world
besides you.
See, I learned that a muse is a crutch,
an alibi, an excuse for not being
who I am and what I might yet be.
Thanks for that inspiration, at least.


By Joseph Hesch

“Touch me,” they say and
sway, purring, beneath his fingertips,
consuming their warmth.

“Touch me,” they say and
sway close-eyed to his words that
knead their needy souls.

 “Touch me,” they say and
sway in laughter at their Fool’s
self-deprecate jest.  

“Touch me,” he pleads
to his swaying obsessions,
who merely echo:

“Touch me.”

My colleague Mark Kerstetter is wrangling this weekend’s Poetics gig at dVersePoets Pub, offering a prompt based on the art work of the Italian Surrealist Giorgio de Chirico. A little research into this artist and I found Le Vestali: La Statua Si Muove (The Vestal Virgins: The Statue Moves). The rest is a Hesch slant look at the art and reversal of roles.