Astride the Penumbra

In a life spent standing
astride the penumbra,
the margin of light and shadow,
I’ve spent most of my days
braced against the winds
always blowing from the sunrise
toward the sunset.
While counterintuitive,
it’s been the darkness that’s
illuminated my way to tomorrows.
It is a wearying place,
cold and fraught with the hidden
and the injurious. And yet,
I’ve come to know it as I would
rising from bed and finding
my way around this room at 2:00 AM.
But someday, I hope to see you
again in bright light, standing there
with the sun at your back
and a smile on your face
reflecting the mirror of mine.
Maybe that’s why, each morning
before I stride to my post
on the melding-point penumbra and
glance at my well-worn path
melting into the darkness,
I still hopefully check which way
the winds might be blowing.

Day 20 of my poem-a-day quest. A “dark/darkness” poem. I guess they didn’t know darkness is my metier. Though it’s been more difficult to get to the writing with the Easter holiday and family visiting from out-of-state. Never said I was the perfect host, though. Just a dark one.

License Revoked

Perhaps we should
earn licenses to operate,
we of the human species.
And by that I mean not
that we need licenses to exist,
because that would be in-human.
No, I think perhaps we should
be licensed in humanity,
in behavior that is humane
toward all living things,
each other, the planet’s beasts
and even the planet itself.
And yes, that sounds inanely
Pollyannish, but there must be
something we can do to help
straighten out the behavior
of homo sapiens before homo sapiens
falls back into mere homo erectus.
Of course, along would come
homo advocatus, to get a mean drunk,
busted for humaning while
ability impaired, off on a piddling
harsh language ticket.
Goddamn lawyers!
Oh, sorry, my fellow humans
of the bar, there I go proving
even the most well-meaning
of us can’t help but revert
to our baser instincts.
Oh well, I’m only human.

Day 19 of my poem-a-day quest. A “license” poem. And this is the first and only thing that crawled out of my creative primordial ooze. Probably should have stayed there.

Caught Upon His Heart

He never actually tried to catch her,
but she clung to him like a cocklebur
at his every move and thought.
And when he tried to remove her,
she stung him sorely, even drawing
some of his blood. Because it turns out
she was caught upon his heart.

She never really tried to catch him,
but he’d bull through her space
as men do. Men are about the catch,
the possess, whether they catch
that truth or not. And when he tried
touching her, she’d sting him sorely,
even drawing blood, as if she caught
upon his heart.

Now he no longer enters her space,
too tired of fighting her inadvertent cling
and too chastened from her deliberate sting.
Sometimes she’ll pick through the old days
when he’d carry off a piece of her.
She pretty sure doesn’t miss him,
but might miss being caught upon his heart.

Day 16. A “catch and/or release” poem. Maybe I did both here. Perhaps this is the only way I can tell stories anymore.

Tomorrow Under the Covers

I’m not certain anymore if I walk
through the valley of death’s shadow
or the shadow of the valley.
Either way, it’s cold and dark.
The days can start brightly enough,
curtains opened, sun illuminating,
though what day this is doesn’t seem
to climb from the covers until
well after I’ve gone downstairs.
At some point, no matter what light
through yon window breaks,
the Juliet of perceived joy will drink
the abbot’s poison. And that, friend, is that.
My steps will once again stagger
into the valley or the shadow
and some small death will rip from me
the light and warmth even you
might mean to provide.
And so it’s back to the room,
where those curtains I pull
and nameless tomorrow smooths
that special place for me beneath its blanket.
Somewhere between darkness and dawn,
your warmth and light will touch me.
Then tomorrow steals all the covers.

Spring Sings Its Advent Hymns in February Skies

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2019

The hawk traces lazy eights
across the high clouds and distant blue.
You wonder how he keeps warm up there
when it’s single digits down here
on the white blanket ground.
Then a flash of blue stretches
flat waves across the road,
hanging azure bunting on hooks of air.
The jay finishes it’s celebratory decoration,
nailing it to an oak with both feet.
His obsidian-eyed stare declares
he’s still master of this level of the sky.

But a softer shade of blue
catches my eye at the top
of the red maple guarding my lawn.
Upon this bluebird’s chest he wears
a shield of look-at-me vermillion
and he sings in low-pitched triplets
of tu-a-wee tu-a-wee. I don’t speak
bluebird, but I think he’s singing a hymn
about Spring’s waiting like dimes
in the maple’s childlike bud fists
to drop into some March Sunday’s
collection basket.
Amen.

Among Many, Alone. Alone, Holding Many

It’s strange how a person
can sit alone,
lie in a lonely bed,
walk solitary in the woods,
wander by himself on city streets,
and not feel alone.
Though quite lonely.
Within his mind, that solitary soul
is beset by lifetimes of images,
regrets, sins, faces of loved ones
and those who never would be,
echoed voices behind those faces
expressing their hatred,
disgust, ignorance, ambivalence and
disappointment, and maybe encouragement,
trust, acceptance, friendship
and even a tad of love.
But probably not.
Around you a world whirls while
every person on it experiences
this same emotional maelstrom.
We are billions.
Yet why are so many of us
still alone among the countless?
Each of us is the center of our own universe
and the shell within which a universe
worth of questions without answers and
answers to questions we never asked
spin toward a black holes of loss.
Or is it a nebula of deliverance?

Someday, One Day, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

I hope to smile as I sit up
in bed from another night of sleep.
Someday.
Real sleep, not the toss and turn,
the clusters of one-eyed
30-second awakenings,
the bedclothes-shifting kick-flips
of the nocturnal 5000-meter
medley swimmer in the sheets.
I won’t be sad when
One Day
I sink to the bottom five minutes
after I dove under the covers,
as long as I don’t awaken
with a gasp and snort of a man
who really DID sink to the bottom
of a pool on his way to swimming out of
Yesterday.
That guy doesn’t smile when dawn
slaps him like a walrus flipper
with that long arousal called
Today.
But that smile’s just a dream,
and we who don’t sleep
the good sleep tend not to dream.
And dreaming would be a dream come true.
Then dawn would break open
with a smile for me..and you…
Tomorrow.