But Don’t Touch ~ An Erasure Poem

Albany Nights

Albany Nights (Photo credit: HckySo)

I lived in one of the tenements,
so loud and confused, the neighborhood
stretched out, scared, skinny,
squinting payback when I creaked open the door.
I just sit in the back now
and we never talk much of today.

I discovered the dark outside,
its hands covering another lie
when I closed my eyes.

I chase all its changing,
kicked in the gut, blood on my chin.
How could I go back?
I closed myself from me.
The feeling of eyes leaning against the inner door,
it’s my way now. A one-way street. Alone

I didn’t feel anything.

This is a first attempt at an Erasure Poem, as prompted by my friend Anna Montgomery over at dVerse Poets Pub. It has been concocted from snippets of my own (somewhat gritty) short story, But Don’t Touch.



frozen sunrise

frozen sunrise (Photo credit: Grapfinger)

I awoke this morning,
peeked through the curtains
and saw this house had gotten old
its roof gone all salt and pepper,
it’s boards creaking with the cold,
and its chimney steaming some miasma
I’m sure it didn’t yesterday.

The neighborhood’s shoulders wore
some of the fallen silver
and flakes of white, and
the whole tableaux seemed
shrouded in slate-gray clouds
cast in a penumbra
so dark I couldn’t read
that big E from only a few paces.

But then you opened your eyes,
the lids parting a passageway
for a sweet light to escape
the shadows of age, and I saw
in them the reflection of this house,
its roof black and smooth again,
its walls strong and whose windows
I now cast open to call Good Morning.

© Joseph Hesch 2012

The roof really WAS covered in a salt & pepper-like snow this morning. (Unfortunately, no time to take a photo.) My age-obsessed imagination took it from there. 🙂:)

Exit 3

Cohoes Falls - New York

Cohoes Falls – New York (Photo credit: Dougtone)

Some say life is like a river, always moving,
sometimes slow and smooth, snake-like in its
S’ing to a Maybe. Other times it’s rough and rushing,
a cascade over rocks to some mist-hidden secrets below.

Maybe it’s more like being behind the wheel
of a car during the morning rush hour.
One day it’s bright and sunny, or it’s fog-shrouded.
Others days it’s skate-edgy with calamitous icy potential.

And I’m stuck in this middle-lane nightmare,
either creeping along or careening NASCAR-style,
door-handle to door-handle, drafting the bumper and
sharing the over-heated press of the souls around me.

I’m unable to move ahead, go around, or pull to any off-ramp,
unless I decide to gouge my way through them,
a self-destructive wedge scattering harried humanity
on their way to indefinite destinations only they may reach.

Just ahead I see the bridge over the Mohawk, that black eel
sliding past marinas, power plants and a final-rest landfill
until it dives over the Cohoes Falls, where Henry Hudson decided
his ultimate course. Wheel gripped a little tighter, I feel wedgy.

What’s the Point?


shivs (Photo credit: istolethetv)

I guess I’m supposed to appear oh so serious,
because to not be considered serious
is to not BE…

I hear if Writers in their stories, Poets in their verse
don’t appear gravely haloed by Polyhymnia,
bathed in the balm of Calliope,
then they’re just not worth the reading.
Unless, of course, you can appear difficult
or even possess that special fearsome edge.
Something akin to a prison shank-fest
between inky Aryan Brothers and Crips,
viscera and caesura, gore and metaphor
over the heads and covering feet in the library.
That’s why I am never going to make it
in this Big House. Not angry enough,
never felt the need to feed your belly
my edge.

But maybe someday, though I doubt it,
some of the serious, difficult and edgy,
even while they’re looking,
get my point.


Close your Eyes

Close your Eyes (Photo credit: Piccadilly Pink)

Matte and colorless, not black,
nor any shade of gray, is my Dark.
Even without gesture, no nuance other than
its lack of supposed visual,
to touch, taste, or smell within Dark’s embrace
slams sensory experience into me with vitality,
vast and vigorous.
How often needless is Light, the glow of clouds and snow
kissed by Sun, or the angled ray that would allow me
to perceive the hairs rise on your arm at my touch
in the Dark?

Why do you turn your eyes from Light
when it glares into your face? You close them
when you kiss me, when you smell a rose,
taste the finest sustenance. Close them now,
join me where there is no jangle of what may be real,
the Hall of Mirrors reflection of what you perceive
all your Its to be.
Beneath your present gaze exists Life I have created
from that you might curse, as you search,
with candle lit, for something you cannot hold,
if broken by once precious Light,
like silence crashed.

Case of the Drops

Hans von Gersdorff (ca. 1455 - 1529): Feldtbůc...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each day, while the computer wipes
the crusty bits and bytes from its eye,
I sit and ooze ink onto this void of white
in a sort of 21st Century blood letting.
If I’m upset, happy, awed, confused
or even loving, I open up this verscular spigot,
and with a scratch drip drop drip,
I temporarily bring balance back
to my mind and body and provide
a vivid Rorschach splotch for you
to parse my emotional equilibrium.

This scratch drip phlebotomic release
has become more gash gush gush,
a venesective addiction I’ve yet to find
the where and how much to cure.
This worries me not because I am committing
such an unsafe and promiscuous sharing
of a quarter of my humors with you
(though you might find some phlegm
and yellow and black bile on these pages, too).
It’s that I know there’s only one way to stop it.
Stand back, I feel another one coming on.

Did you know Old George Washington
got bled to death, too?


Aerial photos of New Jersey coastline in the a...

It’s a pretty thing I hear, this Hope.
I trust there’s some of it near
for all those folks who lost theirs.
We may not be able to see it,
but its cousin, Faith, tells us it’s there.
No, haven’t really felt it, and
I don’t smell it. I’m told it’s redolent
of vanilla puppies eating sugar cookies
on the laps of guardian angels
in ever-pressed robes of light.

And it’s coming…

That’s the rumor anyway.
I guess that’s Hope for you, though.
Usually late, always dressed to perfection,
but invisible, so it doesn’t matter
what it wears. Even if it’s
only waders and a smile.
Just so it eventually shows up.
Preferably with simple gifts.
Maybe more cookies. Anything’s okay
It is coming, right?

Five Sentence Fiction ~ Candidate

Lillie McFerrin

Citizen Jamie

A polling place at a recreation center in New ...

A polling place at a recreation center in New Jersey’s 2008 general election (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I’m really, really nervous about this, Daddy,” 18-year old Jamie Gerwick said to her father as they walked down the dark tiled hall of P.S. 12 toward the polling place in the gymnasium.

“Oh my, don’t be, honey,” Leonard Gerwick said, placing his arm around his daughter.

“Today is the first time you’ve ever exercised that most important privilege of citizenship,” he said, “something generations of Americans – including your late great-uncle Bennie — have fought and died to maintain and protect.”

As they were about to turn the corner into the gym, Leonard stopped, his welling eyes looking into Jamie’s, and put his hands on her shoulders, saying, “You just go in there and sign your name in the book, confidently enter the sanctity of the voting booth and vote for whichever candidate you believe best represents your dreams and aspirations for yours and this country’s future.”

Jamie sheepishly glanced over her shoulder, pulled on her sunglasses and hissed, “No, Daddy, I’m nervous that Bobby Bannister will be in there with his mom and think I’m some sort of geek because you dragged me over here before I could fix my hair and get out of these sweats and flip-flops…gahhh!”

Here is my latest Five Sentence Fiction offering, based on a prompt from Lillie McFerrin. This week: Candidate.

You Never Know

He said, she said.

He said, she said. (Photo credit: Henry McLin)

She would always say, “You never know,”
to his come-ons, which is girl code for
“Not in this lifetime, pal, but thanks for playing.
Feel free to use your handy home version of our game.”
It’s a nice bit of camouflage and easily swallowed
obfuscation. Guys do it, too, when we answer
their questions about tomorrows and nows with
“Of course” and “Why would even have to ask?”

Philosophers, psychologists and talk show hosts
have parsed the source of such gauzy observations.
She needs to be tapped into her own and everybody’s
feelings, feelings of need and being needed
by everyone and a Right One. He competes
for whichever That One is there, keeping an eye
on the scoreboards, just to maintain
his guyness ranking among rivals of flesh and straw.

Someday, some reach an age where we realize
feelings can sometimes hide ugliness,
like newly fallen snow on a junk pile,
and rankings are stews of data du jour.
We junkyard philosophers poll ourselves and decide
to leave all that hazy rhetoric to foggy poets like me
and to those who insist on hiding lonely truth
from themselves. All by themselves.