Leafing Through My Memory

There are times I still see You,
though surely not how you are now.
The You I see is green and supple,
bouncing upon a branch
with scores more of your kind.
And yet I see You.
But this is how it goes
with a man such as I,
who sees a You like no other.
You who have been ripped
from that tree, buffeted
and sucked dry of your youth,
now stuck in a place where
the winds will not let you go.
But I see You as you were.
Since I was always one to miss
the forest for the tree,
miss the whole tree for your leaf.
And now I miss your leaf
for the space it has left
in my mind’s sky.

Empty

Apparently I have nothing more to say,
but it’s not only words that will not come.
My heart that bled ink for you ev’ry day
is but a husk now, empty, voiceless, dumb.

I’ve fought like hell and I’ve just let it go,
like a man breaking a horse to saddle
Used all the old tricks, still my heart shakes no,
no longer a poet’s heart. A rattle.

And so I leave you, unfortunate few,
another will take this place, I’m quite sure.
Wordless poets might as well bid adieu,
after we’ve given up finding a cure.

And so to this disease I’ve fallen prey,
even love has failed to heal me today.

Recapturing His Muse to Let Loose His Wolf

I’d like to tell you a story,
but, nowadays, the stories
just won’t come.
I’ve tried all the old instigators,
but none of those break the spell
rendering me dumb.

So let’s try making something happen
as I’ve had to for so many,
many weeks.
A poem punctuated with rhyming words
at least rolls the ball downhill,
though not up any peaks.

There’s this guy I know, perhaps so do you,
whose life feels empty when he can’t
tell a story.
He’s told all kinds, from weepy to creepy
even gory, though none yet
a “Finding Dory.”

He thought a muse could bring him
the old inspiration, grist for
his creative mill.
But, of course, she was an illusion,
even to herself, now a wraith
of substance nil.

And so one day he reaches into that ether,
grasping at straws
not really there.
For five hundred more words,
or even for two, so long as they’re
not more hot air.

“I’ll tell you what,” he said to
the ghost of she who felt she was
his Keats’s Fanny Brawne.
“Just say a phrase, and in misery
I’ll phrase, a story sad as
Yeats’s with Made Gonne.”

So now he’s off to string thoughts
of some kind, in a story,
kind of together.
Of course this story’s about me,
now feeling free, loosing my prosaic wolf
from its tether.

Memories of a You I Can’t Recall

I’d ask your name, but I already know.
It’s who you are behind it I forget.
Or perhaps I never really knew, so…
Maybe you are someone I’ve never met.

I’ve forgotten so many old faces,
their names have nothing to hang onto there.
Though sometimes I’ll enter these old places
and recall how that light danced in your hair.

Some tell me this is part of growing old,
losing the treasure of recollection.
But that faculty has long since grown cold
since I felt the sting of your rejection.

So here by this window I sit and write,
of you nonexistent, and times so bright.

Back from making new memories with a sweet little girl in North Carolina to this cold space where I forget so much. Some worth the forgetting. Some not. Which, I can’t recall. 

A Climate of Change

Down the hill Winter bleeds unabated,
leaving behind the wounds we couldn’t see.
With all the trees gone I guess we’re fated
to find a pond where a pond shouldn’t be.

The ground’s still frozen ‘neath its epidermis,
so there’s nowhere but down the hill to go.
Up on top is where the earth’s the firmest,
but down here we’ve an inch of melted snow.

It’s nothing new, just how it goes come Spring
or whatever passes for that these days.
Lately you never know what March will bring,
another blizzard or mid-Summer haze.

It could end up the latter or former,
even both, since we’ve made Earth so much warmer.

If you want to argue or troll, find another poet. I’m too old, too sick, too tired and too sad to get in a pissing match about this. 

Waiting With Hopeful Heart

Winter is creeping
off with Spring today,
slowly nibbled away
by a Sun that knows
an angle (and temperature)
greater than 32 degrees.
You can hear it ebbing away
in heartbeat drips
down the waterspout
from the gutters.
Tock, tock, tock…
The sun is granting
storm-fallen branches
early release from
snow’s grip on the yard,
providing enough heat
for them to flex space
around their plaintive reaches.
Invisible robins are providing
vocals atop the beat
from the gutters and
the wind sounds different,
with its Southern accent.
Bluebirds flit among
the maples’ red buds,
waiting for them to go off
like vernal fireworks.
And I sit and wait,
for what I don’t know, but
listening with hopeful heart.
Tock, tock, tock…

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2018

How Heavy the Heart

I never knew sitting
could be so hard on the heart,
but I can feel it pounding
where you once touched my chest.
The banging beat isn’t what’s
wrung so much shelf life
from this physical and poetic
pump, it’s more than likely
that once you did touch it.

Silly that a heart can wear out
just by a man sweating remembrance
of things that never happened
from a mind that chooses
not to know any better.

But that’s a man for you,
the kind of being who’ll
give up one life to share
another, even if it’s
one in which the lifting’s
not extreme. But the weight
of a life full of nothing
is always heavier, even when
all you do is sit to lift it.

Before We Get to Trail’s End

I do ponder what’s to come
out ahead on this long hike.
Maybe because I can sense
trail’s end could be just over
the next rise. Whether toward
sunup or sundown I don’t
even guess, since I keep my gaze
low, to the right and the left,
lest any roots or hoodoos
choose to trip my dragging feet.

I’m not racing anymore
to eventually get where
we all shuck our loads and sleep.
Who’s to say who’s a winner
or loser when we all get
the same prize at the finish?
Did I mention how I try
not to look behind myself
to see which racer’s making
that final kick to beat we
mere stumblers, our packs chock full
of the aches and memories
we’ve picked up along the way?

And while I’d like to recall
the places I’ve been and the
things I’ve seen out behind me,
this road’s been a curvy thing
so one can’t look back too far
anyway. Perhaps when I
hit the finish line, I’ll peek
inside my pack and all those
memories will come tumbling
out for me to see. I hear
that’s what happens anyway.
But wouldn’t it be so great
to share a li’l sneak right now?

Let’s.

Sirocco

I suppose I could tell you I missed you
but there never really was someone to miss.
Just idle dreams and strung-together words
that few would see and none would recognize.
But that’s all right, the idea is to purge
these images from an exhausted mind
and a soul tattered and faded by time.
Well, time and times I’d wave it like a flag,
not so much to draw your kind attention,
but perhaps just to show I was alive.

I guess this is living, blinking these nights
into days, and letting the days drift away
like tossing Hope seeds in a desert wind.
So here’s another handful you might catch
if you wish. Every time I think I’ve
tossed out the last of them, some more appear
at the bottom of the bag, something like
a miracle, tiny loaves and fishes
addressed to someone who looks like you looked
when you were the oasis I might miss,
instead of the sirocco I dreamt to.

I Promise

“What?!”

“I wish you’d not sneak up on me like that. It freaks me out and I lose the flow,” I said.

“What the heck does that even mean? Who’s THIS woman your main character’s talking about,” Jeanne said, her finger leaving a smudge on my computer screen. Her tone more accusatory than interrogative.

“She’s the angel who smashed the bottle on the bow of his Titanic of a life,” I said.

“The Titanic sunk,” she said. “So you’ve longed for some woman all this time? And you’re going to write about her for the whole world to read and talk about? I hate you.”

“She’s imaginary, like Queen Elsa and Olaf,” I said.

“Well she came from some somewhere inside you. You couldn’t have just made her up from nothing. Who is she, Eddie?” Jeanne said.

“Do you know how many books I’ve read over my whole life? Thousands. And all those characters are smushed together up here,” I said, pointing at the side of my head. “My imagination just picks pieces of those characters and builds a new one. That’s where she came from. If it’ll make you feel better, I’ll put a big notice on the flyleaf that swears that. Okay?”

“Fourteen-point type?”

“Eighteen,” I said.

“Okay,” Jeanne said.

“Now can I get back to this? My deadline…”

“Okay. But please don’t work too late. We’re going to Mom’s tomorrow and you can’t be nodding off again.”

“I’ll be up soon. I promise,” I said.

When the door clicked shut, I returned to my keyboard, closed my eyes and that snowy day thirty years ago with Diana flowed back to me. And started I typing again.

This is a slightly lengthened version of my 250-word story for Siobhan Muir’s Thursday Threads flash fiction contest. I had to use a phrase from last week’s winning story (my own): “What the heck does that even mean?” If you’re a writer, a romantic or a romantic writer, you know what this story is about. If you’re not… Well, it’s about angels and magic.