Five Sentence Fiction ~ Silence

Gary Stevens parked as far from the door as he could, beneath an overhanging tree that shaded the spot from the glow of the street light. He  turned off the headlights yet kept the motor running as he sat there staring at the door of the funeral home, hoping someone would go in or she would come out.

After fifteen minutes of sweating in silence except for the sound of his own heartbeat, a blue Camry turned into the drive and parked next to her car. When the priest climbed out and opened the funeral home door, Gary turned off his car’s engine, took a deep breath, which caught in his throat, stepped out and walked into the mortuary.

He was pretty sure his mom wouldn’t mind if he was late to her wake, but didn’t want to confront his sister without backup.

Posted in response to a prompting from my partner Louise Hastings and a prompt from Lillie McFerrin’s blog.

Peace in the Desert

English: Leaving traces on soft sand dunes in ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Peace reigns in this treeless desert of quiet.
Here I don’t worry about the philosophical
or metaphysical question of a falling oak,
redwood, or even a palm if I don’t wish to.
Many will never understand my affinity
for the neatness of the seemingly
dust-cursed and barren wastes of alone.
I don’t mind. The desert protects its own.
Always shifting, always the winds of time
giving me new geography to chronicle
and erasing the needless old steps,
always the sound of my own voice
when I wish to listen to it.

And there are plenty of others here.
Just very, very far apart.

My wanderings have crossed paths
with some of these nomads
and I have fallen in with another.
Sometimes we go off, each of us alone,
to listen to the desert,
take comfort in its cleanliness
of thought and deed and spirit.
We always seem to come back
to share our discoveries
and keep one another warm on cold nights
of what once was just one voice,
one heartbeat wandering
in that wind and the blessed quiet.

Confessions of a Poet Guy








According to most of your rules manuals,
I’m a poor excuse for a writer.
I’ve read six books in the past year
and two of them were The Sun Also Rises.
I can’t write every day and
I don’t want to hear how you do.
Some say I’m a poet, though I believe I’m
a reborn storyteller who spins tales on paper
in busted up lines. Papa Hemingway,
Robert Parker and Ron Carlson taught me
how to fib like this. See, it’s a guy thing…
and the only way I can get away with lying
in this world full of women
who read between my broken parts.

The poetry I learned from no one, except
maybe a big lesson from old Bill Stafford
who said I didn’t have to be perfect, just lower
my phony idea of your standards and write.
It’s kind of like drinking beer, I guess.
So as a poet, I’ve become a minor league beer snob
who dislikes major league beer snobs.
Oh, and while I’m at it,
I believe canned cheese product
is both fine dining and a swell serving device.
I sing fairly well, but never in front of people,
so maybe I don’t. My dog Mollie ain’t saying.
She doesn’t care if she lies perfectly, either.

© 2012 Joseph Hesch

Champagne Tommy

Statue of former-Mayor Thomas Whalen III and h...

Statue of former-Mayor Thomas Whalen III and his dog Finn McCool in Tricentennial Park, Albany, NY, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here in Albany’s Tricentennial Park,
he’s sitting on the bench to my right,
old Mayor Champagne Tommy, bronzer than
any old toper could ever get in a gin mill.
The alloyed but not allied Dutchman and Mohawk
stand between us–the former overdressed,
and the latter, barely dressed at all.
But Tommy’s rigged for action,
collar buttoned and tie snugged up nicely.
The former judge’s jacket’s open,
exposing the slightly straining belt and buckle
tucking back years spent
sitting at the Bar and in a few.
Tommy’s got a big head,
too big for his hairline, as I like to say.
But Tommy’s comb-over withstands winds
and rains. Hell, even blizzards won’t budge it.
Yeah, he’s a statue.

“Assiduity,” blares the Dutchman, beckoning
with two fingers and his jaunty Van Dyke,
like some stuffy maître d’ in Utrecht or
maybe a ruffly pimp in Amsterdam.
The Indian remains silent, probably
not wishing to draw attention to himself,
as if standing near-naked next to
that Dutch dandy wasn’t baring witness already.
But Champagne Tommy, grinning that perpetual
grin, pays his neighbors no mind. He’s squinting
unblinking amity out onto Broadway, watching
each day’s passing parade and sharing his
park with the lunchtime crowd and their
cell phones, sandwiches and lattes.

Tommy rests on his bench, his left arm
draped across it’s back, as if waiting
for some downtown companion
to curl into his metal-firm embrace.
If she doesn’t show, Tommy will be okay.
He still has his burly blond pal, Finn McCool,
by his side. Finn sits on the ground
beneath his master’s right hand,
silent, strong, smiling his dog smile,
giving new meaning to the command, “Stay.”
The tulips are in bloom here today, their big
annual celebration kicking off tomorrow.
Tommy won’t be attending this year,
though his spirit presides over every party
this town throws. C’mon, why do you think
he’s called Champagne Tommy?

“Slainth Mhath,” Tommy. Even now,
you’re the life of the party.

Seal of the City of Albany, NY monument in Tri...

Seal of the City of Albany, NY monument in Tricentennial Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to sit with old Tommy at lunchtime when I worked in downtown Albany. I may have been the only non-tourist long-term sitter to hang with His Honor on that broiling or freezing bronze bench.