The Tracks We’ll Leave



The tracks they all leave 
criss-cross and follow, 
stretch and tangle and some 
just up and disappear 
as if their signatories 
ascended in some great leap 
to that better place.
And so with us on our journey 
between unknown and known, 
confused and understood, 
apathy and love, love and 
some other kind of love.
Maybe the tracks form 
at the corners of our eyes, 
where tears can pool or 
joy marks its trail 
so as not to get lost again.
Or perhaps they step 
one into the other’s 
so that it looks like 
we’re walking alone again.
But that would mean one 
following the other and 
wouldn’t it be better if, 
for at least the part before 
one set finally disappears, 
our steps walk side by side?

Refilling the Bucket Full of Nothing But Holes



The old man’s creation days 
have long since passed. 
Says he feels useless as 
a bucket full of nothing but holes.
Every day he still shuffles 
to his well of invention, 
but his arms aren’t long enough 
to reach whatever new is left 
way down that once splashing shaft.
And even if he could reach 
whatever sloshes down in the dark, 
by the time he hauled it up 
all his creation would’ve 
run through that old bucket.

This saddened and perplexed 
the old man, who judged his worth 
by what he could create.
“I’m done. I’ve no reason to go on,”
he said to his muse, who never 
gave up on her creative old man.
“You can, too, still create,” 
she told him one night in the dark, 
for this is where they did 
their best work. “If you can’t reach 
a shiny new creation, why don’t you 
create a well-polished old one 
all over again? There really isn’t 
anything new anyone pulls from the dark 
out into the sun.”

The old man spent but a minute 
pondering his Muse’s inspiration, 
because she always was the smart one, 
and said, “You know, your favorite’s
a squint-eyed look at one of Stafford’s. 
Over here’s a slant re-telling of Emily.”
And so he began to recreate the created. 
Because this is what poets do 
until they stumble over the new. 
And that’s what muses are for --
tossing inspiration out there in front 
of their old men to stumble over.

Trompe la Mort



Among the papers that I’ve kept 
to remind me of who I was, 
I found a story, and almost wept.
Not that it was sad, just…because.

Because it stirred a time so bright
when this was like respiration,
autonomic, just sit down and write,
instead of wheezing desperation.

The open vein has run its course,
I can find nothing left to bleed.
When you were my art's driving force,
of these banal rhymes I had no need.

Perhaps the old I shouldn’t see
if all they did is bring more pain.
Maybe I should just reinvent me,
and tap some imaginary vein.

No, you could tell it wasn’t real,
and more fraud than ever I’d be.
So I’ll just tap the scars I feel,
a roadmap to my heart, maybe.

I’m not that same man, no longer,
but a poet of love and light still.
I cheated his death, now I’m stronger.
Just need time, my life to refill.

If I recall, a sorta-kinda translation of the French phrase “tromp la mort” is something like “cheating death” or someone who does. And it looks like I might’ve done just that.  

Portrait of the Artist in Nine Beats



What do they see when they look at me?
I’m not sure that’s who I really am.
And if it’s not, who then could it be?
I’d like to settle this today, ma’am.

I think the structure of this guy, Me,
and I’ll betcha likely even you,
was built of stuff folks wanted to see
and I guess we wanted for them, too.

So what we have are these fine facades,
callouses made by heat and friction.
We hardly said No, mostly Yes and nods,
to feel loved, but that kind’s pure fiction.

Whenever we stepped outside our shields
and tried thinking of ourselves a little,
chaos or blame would become our yields,
so we’d jump from fire back to griddle.

I’ve grown tired of toting their good boy,
hands too full of an image to play.
The love we sought might have brought us joy,
though probably not enough, I say.

I’m calling out, so come see the real.
Just for a mo, world, but I’m trying.
I’m warm just like you, come on, just feel.
What? Must be dust. Why’d I be crying?

(Count the beats per line. ~ JH)


Even a Blizzard Can’t Hide It for Long



The famous Ides is still three days away 
and, like Caesar, maybe we should listen.
But a late-Winter storm’s dropped snow all day
on this landscape with the green still missin’.

The scene before men ruin it’s so benign,
virginal as pages ‘fore I scribbled.
Elsewhere, the tracks of men will leave their sign,
an angry ink that’s splattered, not dribbled.

Yes, the Ides is still three whole days away
and Spring, I believe, another five more.
So much ugliness snow can hide today,
but a storm’s white lies and black can’t hide war.

Sure, the wind just turned my whole view so pure,
but time and trial, truth will always reveal.
Fear of seen and unseen we must endure,
until rebirth, while messy, becomes real.