invisible man

invisible man (Photo credit: flickrPrince)

Trying to write a poem without using
that word, that concept around which
most of them are built, is harder than it looks.
It can be done, some say,
because all you really want
to know about is YOU, but it still
feels awfully distant and sterile.

Have you ever tried painting
a landscape without using green?
What does a symphony composed
to be played on Jello mounds sound like?
It’s possible to enter a confessional box
and recite everyone else’s transgressions,
but then where’s the sweat-beaded contrition?

It would be a sauceless, unseasoned,
unsweetened bit of verse concocted
and best consumed alone in a cave,
that, thankfully, is almost done. One in which
that whiney 1st Person thingy wasn’t used.
Not even once. Wasn’t so hard after all.
So how do YOU think I did?


Hasten Down the Wind

Wind Blown Tree

Wind Blown Tree (Photo credit: Paul Appleton)

The wind propels the whir and whine
of unseen highway wheels over the trees.
I take a moment to ponder why I hear it today
when usually I don’t. Maybe
I just don’t listen.
This Monday morning I wonder where
all those tires are going
besides north south east west.

Would the sun and that
hazy full-moon erasure
in dawn’s graphite-rubbed sky
whirl off-course if we obey
the whoosh that just amped
from caress to love tap on my cheek?

Before Miss Sandy decides
to slap some sense into me,
I wet my mind’s finger, raising it
to gauge her direction once more.
I’m sure I heard the remaining
wind-reddened hands of the oaks
applaud when I turn downwind,
whistling a random Warren Zevon song.

I think it’s “Life’ll Kill Ya.”


not listening .

not listening . (Photo credit: monicaxrose)

You can commune with someone
seemingly forever
and never once speak the same language.
Sometimes you don’t have to,
sometimes you just can’t.
Such conversation is more than
the exchange of
respective or respectful noises,
crackling static or desperate cries.
I’ve felt others’ anger, despair,
indifference, but nothing
that could be defined
as communication.

That’s because I’m not
as hard a wall as you think,
echoing what you want to hear or feel.
Sometimes, though, we can offer
things you might term words,
essential somethings
that communicate more of us
in their up-down-right-left wandering
on this plane of plain white
than our utterances ever could.
I bite into them with my eyes,
consume them as sustenance
for the me who doesn’t
stand, sit, kneel, or lie.
No, not lie down.

Dark Harvest

Photo by Joseph Hesch

October winds and rains cleared
the branches and stretched
my piece of sky’s once red arbor edges.
You would think one might see,
once the light comes again,
more feathers in the trees
usurping the old territory of
now-ground blanketing leaves’.
But, as dawn stretches maples’
cold skeleton-shadow hands
to rap at my door,
no robins’ songs awaken me,
nor the screech of crows
chanting their harsh
morning prayers.

The 5:30 freight train’s
forlorn whistle, as it
hauls westward the night,
replaced mourning doves’
lowing signal that morning’s on
my leaf-tossed doorstep.
It signals another Fall harvest
of days’ memories, the yield
of a life spent searching
for something that would grow
from dreams but never did.
But it brought forth
this comforting creation,
a new life, where before
nothing but darkness informed
my cold and drowsy thoughts.

Schwund und Reue

Cover of first English language edition. The d...

Cover of first English language edition. The design is based upon a German war bonds poster by Fritz Erler. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can read, won’t read.
Would read, don’t read.
That book sits face up on the table
next to me, it’s eyes staring at
my sheepish ones, like those
of a portrait that follow you
around the room, accusing, unblinking.

Or maybe they’re like
those of that dead French soldier
lying in the crater with Paul Bäumer
in All Quiet on the Western Front,
another book I never finished.
Like Paul, I feel remorse, loss,
over somehow killing my old hunger.

I was once voracious like you,
but lost the combat for my consciousness
and now I lie here, paralyzed,
with my toes framing that big screen,
notebook and tablet on my lap,
pinned down in my depression by this
bombardment of distractions.

I want to pick up that book and
conquer it, but, shell-shocked by media,
all I do is numbly flip a couple of pages
and place it face-down again.
I really wish I could be like you,
finishing every bit of reading you…
Hey, where’d you go?

My deepest apologies to my friends Claudia and Quirina if I have butchered the German words in the title. I wanted to express my paralyzing feeling of loss and remorse. Which I feel…I really do.

Su Maja

Thacher Park - New York

Thacher Park – New York (Photo credit: Dougtone)

The Helderberg hills lie out there,
sunlight warm upon them while clouds
blanket him in cold. They appear
sand-painted majas in naked respose
he can’t help but wish lying with.
It’s not that he cannot lie with them,
it’s that he cannot lie at all.
She would have him no other way.
But soon enough, he thinks, all will
lie beneath snow white shrouds,
escarpment and dreamers alike
in their own winters, folded and
put away until that time
they embrace out there in open sky,
wearing naught but sunlight
and that which sets all free.

Welcome Home


You’re inside again, the shades drawn tight,
lights low, staring at the different darks
and wondering if you moved the furniture
in here would anything really change
besides the feng shui and the unbarked skin
of your naked shins.

What? No! Fuck blue. You’re not a color.
You’re the anti-color, not black,
just blank, a clear nothing that
respires shadow because today
hurts in its light, its bright,
and its obsequious pastel softness.

You crack the shade for a peek,
and realize your mistake, eyes swelling shut
with the burning thought of being caught.
You’re okay with your selfish sequester
because no one cares to see you like this
and you don’t care if you see them, either.

You’re not sad. What is sad?
Happy then? Please! You dipped your brush
into nothing again, smearing its impasto
of those feelings of no feeling that
you haven’t not-felt in so long,
ambivalent of their dark ambivalence.

The caress of its serial killer fingers
glide upon your skin, seductive, safe,
soft, smooth in their smothering.
They trace the letters
on the misted windows inside
your drawn-tight eyelids…WELCOME HOME.

Like Old Times

Senior Citizens Find That New Ulm, Minnesota, ...

She’s knitting another scarf, like all
the previous ones. We would call it a day,
and be done with it until tomorrow.
But she’s so bound to the safe anchor of sameness,
any deviation, like pouring cereal
before her morning’s coffee, it becomes like
she dropped a stitch somewhere,
a purl before a knit stitch, and the scarf,
her smoothly knitted day,
would just flat out unravel.

He nibbles at the same meal over two nights,
but he will slowly consume the entire newspaper
over the course of each day.
As if his mind’s teeth were in a glass,
he inexorably gums A-1 through the obits.
Obits always first, though.
That will never happen to me, you say.

She sits all day and waits for a call,
and when you call, she says you’re
the only one who has. And then you listen
to pretty much the same rap as yesterday’s
and the days’ before that. Meanwhile,
the news channel’s booming in the background
up to the Led Zep levels of your youth.

You shake your head. But tonight
you’ll place your slippers (slippers!?) just-so
next to your bed and set the alarm
for that same time, for that same rush,
to that same job you’ve said for ten years
you can’t wait to retire from so you finally
can do what you want, but likely will be
the same thing day after day. You know,
like will never happen to you. Says you.

©Joseph Hesch 2012

Linked to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night.


Jacques Plante, 1944 - 1945 / Shawinigan Falls...

Jacques Plante, 1944 – 1945 / Shawinigan Falls, Quebec (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know they’re over there, the new folks.
I can hear their little dog wailing,
smell their wood fire smoking.
Their odd bit of fence ensures
our mutual exclusivity.

Where once I could see sunsets kiss
goodnight the far treetops, a demi-MacMansion
and two-panel length of stockade fence,
just wide and high enough, block leafy horizon,
the only view I care about out back.

The fence reminds me of a stand-up goalie,
isolated, moving forward out of his crease
to appear bigger than he really is and block
sight of his goal. If that’s their goal…
well played.

I’m sure, like Frost’s abutting stone-stacker,
the idea of the fence gives a feeling of masked,
tall and suburban Jacques Plante-ness.
I feel the diminution of my view of Nature
and ancient memory of what neighbors were.

I’m thinking of planting a new sun kissing tree.
Deke right, head fake up, wrister. Five hole.


These Eyes

English: a hand holding unidentified white pills

They stare at me each morning,
the doleful white, yellow and pink
ovals and circles that allegedly
see to keeping me happy and alive.
Unfortunately they aren’t doing the former,
and at times because of that,
equally unfortunately, are doing the latter.

I would take in a bigger batch of them,
filling my hand like a loser
holding but one ace,
but I’d probably pull nothing more than
three, seven, nine, Jack,
a splitting headache and
wrenching nausea for the effort.

I remember a time when I felt happy
and alive and didn’t worry about
holding or being held in the gaze
of such pale, jaundiced and sleepless eyes
as these glaring at me as I lean
against the shower-steamed mirror
above the bathroom sink.

They were a lovely shade of blue,