Farewell Flight

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The leaves are finally dropping
from the oaks, assisted by
the rain and just enough wind
to yell, “C’mon, already, jump!”
to the tawny holdouts.
Their brothers and sisters
still clinging to the branches
wave goodbye to the soon-to-be
bushels of russet rustlers
who’ve danced across my grass
from one neighbor’s line
to the opposite.
They know it’s goodbye
after learning the leaf life
there on their shelves
of that library oak,
whose counts her years in
in a hundred rings and to whom
this leaf-fall’s nothing more
than another brushing of dust
off her winter coat.

Rainy day observation and photo by your faithful (illustrated) storyteller,
Joseph Hesch © 2016.

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In the Shadow of Gull Mountain

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The Colonie landfill towers above
the roadway along the last run
of the Mohawk River before it drops
with a roar into the Hudson.
It stands as a sandy, ever-growing
monument to modern excess.
When the wind blows across
the mountain of detritus,
scraps of loose paper scud
across the face of the erstwhile dump
like streaks of snow caress
Mt. Everest’s icy profile.

But today the scraps of white
and gray seem to be holding
and folding in a position
above the man-made mound of jetsam.
Flocks of misplaced gulls,
peppered with scores of crows,
have succeeded in confusing my eyes
as they swoop and circle
in a trash-picking murmuration
even the starlings fear to join.

Along the road I see more crows
moping in the autumn-emptied
maples and birches, their wings
tucked in shrugs, waiting for
the trucks to deliver their
next meal. Maybe it’ll be pizza, or
at least the pizza crust within
the flat cardboard box that always
flies off the back and takes wing
with the rest of our flocks
in the shadow of Gull Mountain.

Discovering the Future in My Past

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Once I saw the future as something exciting and totally within my grasp. Nothing could stop me, once I was 10. Then I saw the future as something exciting and probably within my grasp, like that girl in Biology class, once I was 15. When I was 18, once I received that 1-A on my Draft Card, I saw the future as something scary and full of dreams of death and terror in a land halfway around the same world I thought I’d own when I was 10. Once I saw my future in that girl, and that one, or maybe the other, or possibly her, and then I turned 22 and found someone already had found their future in me. When I turned 30, I thought there was little future in my future but nine-to-five and nights spent wondering where my future went while I stared at the ceiling with a spirit peened over by my own hammerheaded darkness. At 55, my future looked quite close, a constricted heartbeat away, until I found two miracles revealed: a heart can heal just as quickly as it breaks and I owned some power in my words to break hearts and heal them, too. When I turned 62, I peered back at a life spent looking at a future I thought remained just beyond arm’s length, like stars upon which childish dreams are hung, bright and tempting—as if we’re human magpies—yet always out of reach. So I looked at my yesterdays and realized the future’s nothing more than a vast plain upon which we stand with nothing to stop us on our way to those 360 degrees of horizon but our own nimbleness of mind and spirit. Oh, and looking at it all like we’re still 10.

Here’s my 300 words worth of a prose poem (maybe) response to my friend Sharyl Fuller’s last Writing Outside the Lines prompt for 2016. It’s that statement at the top of the piece. Hope to have a story for it soon. Thanks, Annie.

Lying with Beautiful Lies

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Once he’d write her
every day, sometimes twice.
But he’d never send
those messages because
they confused even him.
They’d lie, inert, unloved,
he hoped forgotten,
between notebook covers,
or under assumed names
on a hard drive.
To send them would
blow his cover,
as if he was the
star-crossed lover
who pined for something
he couldn’t have,
but never really needed.
The words that escaped
would lie, too, speaking
of feelings injured,
a heart unloved.
He heard that song today,
and they all came back,
stupid words and dreams
best forgotten, and
beautiful lies once more
given life.