Over the Top

By Joseph Hesch

She always had a problem 
with how he tended to over-think, 
over-do, over-reach, 
over-react, over-analyze, 
So, because he loved her so very, very much, 
he tried to change, a total make-over.
He tried to become like he saw her, 
accepting things as they came,
not sweating the small stuff. 
Something he wasn’t, really.
He beat himself nearly senseless 
to overcome his obsession
to make a big deal over every
little thing in his life. 
he was perplexed by the how or why, he
underestimated how much 
he’d changed to be the guy 
he thought she wanted.
That’s why he never fully
understood what to do, 
when she said,
“We’re so over.”

The Answer

By Joseph Hesch

Outside, early morning, mid-December
and the howling wind is strumming a
C-chord through the trees.
Even above that din, I hear
the familiar tones overhead.

There, moving in a diagonal,
like a sidewinder snaking south,
or a streamer of mercury sliding across
a wobbly zinc tabletop,
are half a hundred Canada geese.

And I shiver. Not because of the wind
and December’s cold, but because
the unspeaking natural world had
once again addressed a question
I hadn’t even known I was asking.

The question I couldn’t
speak or write is answered across
the December sky in that language
without words, the one that speaks
more truth than that of Man:
It’s never too late.

As I was working outside the other day, I heard in the distance something I used to not hear until it was just above my head (if at all). There, in ragged V winging south, was the first company of migrating Canada Geese I’d seen this Fall. I’m not sure why, but that incessant honking sound, some overlapping the others as if they were sound shadows, stirs some visceral response in me. I feel somehow energized and inspired. And so I was this time. Seeing them put me in mind of another group I had seen last year. I write about those travelers here.

This Boy’s Life

By Joseph Hesch

I took a walk by myself yesterday
and recalled how much I always loved
just walking and watching. 
“Woolgathering,” Grandma called it.
“You’re wasting time, little boy,” she’d preach.
Years and years of it have reaped me a lot of wool,
or maybe just the dust of memories by now.

An ancient tree in the park caught my attention.
It knew I was coming; its limbs waved me down.
And on the edge of the yawning mouth
in the tree’s face—a gash big enough
for a bear to hide in—
rose an impudent squirrel.
He hurled me a lesson full of sound and
fury on behalf of his silent old host,
a fiery flicking tongue testifying there’s some life
left in the old boy, and chit-chitting his pride
that he’s a big piece of it.

That’s when I realized how much I loved my
walks and secret conversations with the world.
I don’t feel like I’ve wasted all of those memories.
I carry their dust in my bones, I’m sure.
They just need to be reconstituted
by fresh perspective and the miracle voices.
Now I collect them, commit them to paper,
and share them with the nascent me,
that fiery, furry—or is it wooly?—
young poem maker who
resides inside this dry old hide. 

Photo by Ruban Phukan

Haiku and Senryu 1


Rosy eye closing
beneath purple and red lids–
Fall’s bruised horizon.
As the oak leaves turn,
Nature orders, “Curtain up”–
cue this year’s third act.
Blackbirds harry Hawk 
from their leaf-bare maple home.
Hawk humors them though.

Eyes watch in hiding 
as we walk through red forest;
they fear us; we, them. 

The searchlight full moon
wore a veil of windblown cloud—
a November bride

Chains of starlings stretch,
shivering, from pole to pole—
roadside rosaries

Wind carries the cry
 of coyotes’ prey brought down:
White doe runs away.


His locked box opened,

she gave flame to his desire—
scarring a true heart.

“I’ll never hurt you,”
Angel carved into his heart –
A promise unkept.
“I’d never do that,”
The angel professed to me –
They all do, in time.

Gratefully, I taste
her Chinese tea and oranges –
Not Suzanne, but close.
In whose image, first,
was the other created—
Man’s god or God’s man?

Hot coffee and gin 
kept him warm every night. 
Anger kept him hot.

Over at dVerse Poets Pub today, my friend Gay Reiser Cannon is discussing poetry forms. She’s a treasure house of poetry form knowledge, often beyond my skills. But today she is discussing the form with which I started my journey as what might be called a poet.  That is the Japanese short form style of haiku and senryu.  I’ve called it writing inside a warm, tight hug. After argued with myself for a while (a frequent exercise that I inevitably lose, one way or another) if I should post any of them on the blog, Gay helped me decide once and for all.  I’ll love playing at this form until I can’t breathe on a page anymore. That’s what they are, my small poetic respirations, how I start each day.


By Joseph Hesch

Too long, I’ve worn delusion as a hood
covering my better judgment, when,
time and again, I tortured myself
with chains of baseless obsessions.
Sense of duty, senseless mooning,
all cloaked in claustrophobic darkness
where, if some small ray of truth leaked in,
I willingly closed my eyes to accept
my next bruising lesson in Life.
I wish I could find that hand,
the one I could trust to lift this hood,
leading me to daylight, instead of
coming down upon it again and again,
beating the emotional daylights out of me.
I’m willing to crack open my eyes
and extend to you my hand in something more
than its defensive or aggressive attitude,
but only if you promise never to use yours
upon me while my back is turned.
Or are you another of my delusions?

Another study of the lonely, those fearful of the light of truth or so deep in the well of depression that all they think they have to comfort them wrapping themselves in more darkness. Heliophobia is my post this week for dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Mike Night. Check it out and see what all the joyous noise is about.

Dark Lie

I stopped trying to be who
the world always wanted me to be—
pliant, compliant, the good boy,
and the better man.
With age I see why
I’ve hated the effort I made
to color within everyone else’s lines.
Inside, I’m trying to be
cold and dark and
— just to be me —
I keep all those beans
we’re supposed to count
in alphabetic order.
This is my life, my obsession,
and I’ll keep it the way that I want.
That’s who I am, for better or worse.
No partners, no bliss, self-service.
Deal with it.

Oh, excuse me, did you drop this?