The Spider

Slept here, watched here,
leapt here, fed here
in the window of this house
we’ve built for one another.
As you scurry past my watchtower,
solitary, I’ve seen your
comings and goings,
your joys and sorrows,
your yesterdays, todays
and hoped-for tomorrows.
With every turn, you rip away
a corner of this Web I’ve stretched
to sense the quickening
and ceasing pulses of things
I can’t see with my many eyes.
Once torn, I spin a new yarn
to memorialize your passing.
But the foundation has failed
and our house is falling, blowing me
away upon its final exhalation.
I am suspended in air without wings
and the great descent it comes.
For this moment, though, I see
all our lives spread beneath me,
the ever solitary spider…
And never have I felt so alone.

I am, I was, I

I
I am
I can
I want
I take
I can take
I can take more
I can’t take more?
I can’t take?
I can’t?
I’m not?
You
I’m not
I couldn’t
I couldn’t take
I couldn’t take more
I can’t
I can’t take
I can’t take more
I can’t take any more
I can’t
Take
Any more
And now you.
I just can’t
Just can’t
Just
I
I am
No more

A mind full of faces and places that mean everything and nothing races nowhere. Well, just here. Just here. Unwell.

Going Back to Escudilla

Whenever he came to town, Ike Biggs could feel their eyes on him not only on the street, but even from within the storefront windows. Some folks would step off the sidewalk into the street to avoid him, or move clean to its other side. They’d sometimes make it look like they were headed to a store over there, but usually Ike would notice how they’d look over their shoulders to see if he was watching them or, worse, following.

And he knew some would be saying something like, “The boy ain’t been right since that day,” just as Abner Klein whispered to no one as he leaned on a broom inside the doorway of his mercantile. And then Ike walked across the street, too, and headed right for Old Man Klein’s doorway.

“Oh shit,” the old man said as he tripped over his broom and stumbled to the floor. He did not make it to lock the door, with its CLOSED sign hanging at eye-level, before Ike stepped up on the wooden sidewalk and strode inside.

“You all right, Mr. Klein?” Ike asked as the old man picked himself up from beside the door and kneeled in a forlorn posture, as if God Himself had just given him the bad news he wouldn’t be saved that day.

“Oh, good morning, Ike. I’m just, uh, looking for my pencil. I think I dropped it over here somewhere.”

“You don’t mean the one behind your ear, do you?”

“Oh? Well land’s sakes, there it is. Why thank you, Ike. Thank you very much. Now, um, what is it I can do for you today? Oh, no no, you just stay there. I can get myself up,” Old Man Klein said, grasping the door knob and hefting himself to his feet with a profound sigh.

“I’s wondering if my order came in yet. That wire and linen canvas and feathers. Gonna make it this time for sure,” Ike said. Klein couldn’t help but see the large oval scar atop the young man’s head and how his eyes never quite looked in exactly the same direction at the same time.

“The canvas and feathers got here just day afore yesterday, they did, Ike. But the wire I had to special order from Chicago. The kind you wanted ain’t thick enough for fencing. In fact, about the only thing it’s good for is stringing pianos. Cattle would just bust right through it and I don’t think you can really corral chickens, eh?” the old man said with a nervous laugh.

“Ain’t for no corral and you know it, Mr. Klein. It’s gonna hold together something more grand than anything anyone in this town or even them Tonto and White Mountain Apache have ever seen. And I don’t mean no grand pianee, either,” Ike said as he pounded his hand on the counter.

Ike then rubbed at his scar and closed his eyes, which suited Old Man Klein because he never could figure out which one to look at when he had to talk to Ike.

“Now don’t get yourself all riled up, Ike. Didn’t mean to start anything. Here, let me fetch that batch of canvas for you. This is going to make some giant tent, I’ll tell you,” Klein said as he headed to the storeroom just at back of the mercantile.

“It ain’t for a tent, you know,” Ike said, calming down as he heard Klein fumbling with bundles in the back. “You’ll all see the day I come back to town and I ain’t walking.”

“A’course, son,” Old Man Klein said as he hefted a huge roll of off-white canvas onto the counter. “You’ll be riding that buckskin pony you lit out of the White Mountains with, no doubt. Fine little piece of…”

“No,” Ike shouted. “Won’t be ridin’ Jlin-Litzoque neither.”

“Well, if you ain’t walkin’, and you ain’t ridin’, I got no idea how you’re gonna get into town except maybe…”

“When you expecting that wire to come in, Mr. Klein? I’m gonna need it to finish my łigai-itsá.”

“Was told it was in Scottsdale yesterday, so we should have it here by Friday. Your licorice?”

“My łigai-itsá. White eagle.”

“Oh, sure, Ike. White eagle. I’ll be sure to send little Eddie up to your place and let you know when you can come down and pick up your wire,” Klein said.

Ike pushed twelve dollars onto the counter.

“Thank you, Mr. Klein. I’ll be down to pick it up lickety split. And in another week or so I’ll be coming here maybe even faster. Certainly grander. Why I’ll go back to Escudilla and I’ll come a’soar…”

Sheriff Ben Benson knocked on the door frame of Klein’s store and said, “Morning, Abner. Ike. Everything all right in here today?”

“Yep, Sheriff, just fine,” Ike said as he rushed past Benson, his huge roll of canvas and a sack of feathers locked in a bearhug.

“Will you look at that, Abner. Sidewalk clears of folks like it was the damn Red Sea and Ike was Moses himself carrying the Commandments. Boy looks like he’s seen the Burning Bush itself, too. A’course poor Ike ain’t been right since them White Mountain Apaches tossed him over that cliff on Escudilla Mountain,” Benson said. “Would’ve been kinder for the poor, addled sumbitch if he hadn’t hit that eagle nest on the way down. Some days he talks like he wishes he’s one of them eagle young’uns that fell with him.”

“Yeah, but they were able to fly away and poor Ike just sorta fell like a sack of… Wait a minute!”

First story draft in a very long time. I have no idea from where it came and it’s as first-drafty as one of my stories can get. But, darn it, it’s a story! I started with the idea of some Western character name Faustus and wanted to see what deal we both could make with the writing Devil his self. Instead, I wrote about a man (Ike, as in Icarus) who was looking to soar with the angels.

July 5th

Thunder rolls from cloud to cloud where fireworks boomed clear their cannonades last night. The flash of any electric pyrotechnic hides in the hazy sunlight, whereas darkness embellished the rainbow blooms of July 4th’s aerial party favors. But where’s the rain? Perhaps it’s pausing for thunder to clear its path, warning to shelter those savoring the mid afternoon air, warm and wet as a lover’s kiss. Another rumble and I turn away, thinking this storm might be all bark and no bite. That’s when something rat-tat-tats at my window, startling me, and its fangs begin chewing away at the sill.

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2017

Kind of Unkind

“The years have not been kind,”
we’ve often hear people mutter
when they maybe saw some starlet
from their youth on TV wordlessly profess
herself the victim of her excesses,
her exes,
and usually an excess of gravity.
But at least she’s still able to tell
the tales of those years
when they made sure she
always had the right light,
an ex who was the right height
(or at least his wallet was),
and access to the right might
to keep her in sight of a public
who one day wouldn’t notice
she’d disappeared like another day
into night.

I mention this only because I looked
at myself in such retrospect today,
side-eying the mirror,
taking the measure of the man as I might
someone I’d not seen in years.
I there found a guy with more tread
on his face than the figurative tires
upon which he’s bumped along his winding race.
But I’m only a victim of my overabundant daydreams,
always believing a shiny kind of something
lay out there for me, even if for years
most have been but unkind mirage.
Like the starlet, though, I’m still here
to tell, admittedly with not much gravity,
tales of years I one day hope to profess,
while not always kind, have been
in excess.

Yes, I’ve been away from all this for a while…and then I went took a month off to introduce myself to my newest granddaughter. And maybe a little to my ever-gloomy self. So, like that little shorty I spent June with, it’s time to start standing up, looking up, and maybe babble some new stories. Today was my first step. Yeah, I may have fallen, but I always get back up again, eventually.