Written in Stone

Stones know the score;
nobody bothers them and fewer still
are bothered by them.
Well, except occasionally
touchy sandal wearers or maybe
old-timey New England farmers.
But you hardly ever hear
about stones getting in trouble.
What? That Cain and Abel affair?
Stone fell in with a bad crowd.
Other than that, only flashy stones
get noticed and then cause trouble.
I think the lesson here —
one I didn’t learn soon enough —
is stones should eschew fussy farmers and
prickly poetasters. And maybe you can
hang with such sandaled shepherds
who are not yet Kings.
It’s probably good to be a stone.
Just be hard, lay low,
keep your dirty face shut
and hopefully they’ll never
crack you. Like you did me.

© 2012 Joseph Hesch

Break Time

By Joseph Hesch 

Around here, the morning haze clears
by 9:00, but comes back around 10:00,
a man-made miasma returns, that is.
From my fifth floor window perch,
I see these fuming artistes
hanging their cloud portraits 
on the fronts of buildings across the street. 
In breathless summer heat
or brutal, breezy winter freeze,
they huddle together,
like business-dressed bums circling
a fire in an invisible 60-gallon drum,
a translucent gray pillar stretching above them.
And I shake my head in arrogant pity
at these poor addicted souls,
these weak-willed smoke suckers,
and sip from my fifth cup of coffee
since 7:00 o’clock this morning.

Hesch Karma

The emaciated yin and obese yang of my life,
the painful imbalance of the bad almost always
immediately arriving to drown in mud
the alleged shiny new good,
has led to a numb stasis in which I hang
here and age like stinking cheese.
Why bother even trying for anything
beyond right here, right now?
Leaky gumboot in the swamp is just
the way it is. Even if I slog to dry land,
that eager helping hand extended to lift me
will inevitably be revealed to work
some slight-of-hand and flourish a flame-thrower.
It all falls under the mantle of what I’ve come
to call Hesch Karma—
a Newtonian law of metaphysics that says
for every good action that happens to me
there is an unequal and opposite reaction—
a bomb blast without bombast, just bad ass.
But these days I’m making some headway
extricating myself from the swamp.
See, I’m becoming a scofflaw on the run
from Newtonisms. The Karma cops
may come after me, but with this new map
I have of joyous escape routes,
they’ll never take me alive.
Still worry about those gators, though.

© 2012 Joseph Hesch


By Joseph Hesch

Talk to people about the morning fog and
most will don yawning expressions of
But write a poem about the fog…
how it comes in on little burglar feet
or cools some of my savage need for her…
and half the who-carers listen to you
like your words were custom-made for
their souls’ troves of tropes, touching
their aching emotions like misty mythic balm.
The other half don’t even bother
with the who-cares. They will turn and
run from your metaphors
like they’re cannibalistic similes,
leaving you with bare air between you and
the embarrassment of artistic pettifoggery.
But, in the one-half who listens,
who peers through the low-lying vapor
of your words, you realize
being a poet is twice as morning cool
as being a meteorologist.

© 2012 Joseph Hesch

Slap and Tickle

The slap and flop of bare feet in sandals
on the sidewalk this April morning,
even at forty-five degrees—temperature,
not the angles of her sweet ankles—
roused me to the fact that it’s really Spring.
Even more so than those weeds I ignore
bursting through what passes for lawn
in front of my house, or those birds chirping
their raucous reveille each earlier morning,
or those creek-cruising toads peeping
lullabies to me and love songs to toadettes at night.
Not quite sure what this dialed-in observation
of an anonymous woman’s footwear says about
what tickles this old poetic chronicler
of the seasons, except maybe his sap
still can rise when the post-equinox sun does.

© 2012 Joseph Hesch

Another ten-minute from-the-carpark-to-the-desk poem for April and my poem-a-day attempt. In this case, a too-true observation of the passing feminine parade and its effect on my mindfully open poetic (OK, and masculine) senses.

Morning Buzz

Sleepy as I almost always am most mornings,
I’m still mindful of all those other too-far-to-walk-so-I’ll-drive
somnambulists buzzing from Velveetaville to whatever hive
they turn their nectar into such honey
their queens (and creditors) consume.
This morning, as I sped my way squint-eyed
and fully present down the Interstate,
onto the Bypass, into this bureaucratic carpark,
and carefully up the lane to the open parking spaces ahead,
my flight was diverted. To my left, flying diagonally
across seven lanes of open parking slots,
a maroon Camry sped, aiming for one just to my right.
Behind the wheel, with her head already in
the eighth slot from the end of the row,
a woman with the target fixation of a rookie fighter pilot
vectored right at me. I stopped my car as she overshot,
oblivious to this silver Volkswagen she would have T-boned.

After I parked, I exited my car looking to T-bone her
with a stinger full of inventive invective.
That’s when the young woman in the short, tight,
burnt-orange knit skirt, black stockings and heels
crossed my path, and my attention became
a mindful observation upon the rhythmic wonders
and wonderfully soft mechanics of such creatures
the Lord has made.
As I reached the door to my building,
a different woman approached, sacks of bagels and fixings
in each hand. I smiled as I held the doors wide for her and
she returned my morning bonhomie with
a ring of cinnamon raisin thanks.
I figure Life’s too short to swat idiots when
I’ve black-stemmed American Beauty blooms to enjoy
and honey-walnut sweetness to spread, you know?

Jeremy and Jacob

By Joseph Hesch

The eight-year-old pinballs
back and forth, up and down
the aisles of the market,
making sure all the cans and boxes
are aligned perfectly with
the edge of their shelves.
His mother’s firm and exhausted call
carries from canned goods to dairy.
”Jeremy, come back here, now.”
”Jeremy,please leave that.”
”Jeremy, now, Jeremy.”

But her Nerf words bounce off
the boy’s seemingly unhearing ears,
blocked by a soundless enthusiastic voice
cheering his next split-second adventure.
His tunnel of attention feels right,
as his hands flap to his next task,
even though he never wanted
to leave home with Mom in the first place.
”Jeremy, hey lookit!.
”Jeremy, go, Jeremy.”

Nearby, a white-hair looks on
with disdain at the unruly little boy
who needs a good spanking.
That’s just what she told her daughter
to give her grandson when he would
act up like this. Now her daughter
doesn’t speak to her and
her grandson’s a very quiet
young man who doesn’t answer
when Grandma calls:
“Jacob, please pick up.”
“Jacob, it’s Gram, Jacob!”

© 2012 Joseph Hesch

I’ve been noodling with this piece for a little while–on and off for two years, actually. I saw a little boy in the market Saturday who moved me to complete it. Had to finish. As I was once again going over it before posting, I found out today is World Autism Awareness Day. I had no idea, just as Grandma has no idea (or doesn’t want to) about Autism, either. I don’t claim to know much about Autism, but I learned a lot from visiting the Autism Speaks Web site. You might want to check it out, too.

The Nightmare of Nothing

The fright is real, playing with my heartbeat,
pounding as it keeps me awake every night,
fearful of the blank darkness of the hood
it places over me, of its smothering dark hand.
Always, the monster steals my night
robbing me of sense and senses sending
me to stagger through another day
hating the Sun for dropping from its apogee,
a golden chanticleer crowing
the dawn of another dread sundown.
My every-night nightmare is
a killer of men, of knowledge,
of thought. It hides in the darkness
of my slumber, the destroyer of light, color, joy.
This nightmare goes by No Nightmare,
a dreamless night that tears
at the dreams of my day.
I stare into the darkness, wondering why
I even bother to close my reddened eyes.
Blink once and night becomes day.
Weak flesh craves its raveled sleeve mended,
even knowing the monster rips away
the threads, stealing all hope of healing.
Last night I decided to kill it off
by killing off the poet. No great loss.
What good is a poet who cannot dream?
It would be my ultimate creation.
An anti-creation.
My first and final dream, a lyrical piece
of sweet release.

Posted in response to dVerse Poets Poetics prompt for a nightmare poem. Since I barely ever dream (a long story not worth the zeroes and ones) I wrote of it as my nightmare. It’s a horrible thing to be afraid to sleep because you’re afraid of “nothing.”

© 2012 Joseph Hesch