Ice in the Blood

blood winter wallpaper

It’s not winter cold I sense
shifting the form of my blood
from liquid to solid. I feel
crystals of plasma and the cells
clink and link with one another
in the freezing cold
within my sweater and vest.
Perhaps bundled in
suitable-for-shipping layers
of fluff and flannel insulates
this cold old heart,
sluggishly pumping its slush of life,
since no longer are you here
to stoke the flames
of its imaginings. You know,
the ones I’d walk through for you
each day, head swiveling, sensing all
in the ninety-eight degree heat
that lit this pen with which
I brand a world.

Shared with my friends at dVerse Poets for the Feb. 4, 2014 Open Link Night, where I’m tending bar. At least I know I have sufficient ice, eh?

Popping the Question

Candle Glow 149/365

Candle Glow 149/365 (Photo credit: gravity_grave)

“So what are we celebrating here in THE most expensive restaurant in the tri-county area,” Miranda asked Jack, who slid her Cosmo just a little closer to her hand, there on the other side of the table’s pulsing candle light.

“Why do we need a reason, isn’t just going together for, what, ten months, enough?” Jack said, and took two very large gulps of his double Maker’s Mark on the rocks and shifted his eyes everywhere but upon Miranda’s.

Jack took a finishing swig of his tumbler of bourbon, held it aloft and shook it for the waitress’ benefit, showing her his ice cubes were in need of more than this remaining dilute tawny dribble of Kentucky oak dance floor.

Miranda shivered with a chill yet felt her face burn with a fear and excitement she was about to hear she might be losing her intelligent, funny, sexy, “beautiful man” — a doctor no less — or perhaps that he was going to ask her something just the opposite.

Jack took yet another big pull on his new drink, then took Miranda’s warm hand into his moist, ice-chilled fingers, gazed decisively into her eyes and said, “Sweetie, I’ve been thinking about this for months and months and then you came into my life and I knew you were different and, well … how would feel about having a lifelong partner, someone who loved you more than anyone in the world..someone named Jacqueline?”

Celebrating the two-year anniversary of Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompts, with this week’s perfect prompt…Celebration.

Warm Memory

in darkness

in darkness (Photo credit: Qaoz)

Darkness resides here,
in the cave where once lived hope.
It invaded us
with stealth and a blatant lie
and left this sunless life,
empty echo, like shadow
that rings black on black inside.

I’d faith that maybe
spark or flame I could ignite,
pounding fists like rocks
on the hardened walls of flesh
that pumped desire once through me,
driving out that dark,
bringing back hope. Then…we’ll see.

And should I fail,
as so often I’ve fallen,
would you brightly smile
once more, so your image remains?
A flash of hope, cold
on my walls, I can steep in
its warm memory.

A free-write poem going back to my original style of linking 5- and 7-syllable lines. I don’t know from where it came, save a period of physical pain and deep depression over the past couple of week or so.  Sharing the result with my friends at dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night.

Closing the Door

Brown eye

Brown eye (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That thought came wafting back again today.
This time a song blew the door open a crack.
Even though you would never push it wide
to fill that empty space, a gust of curiosity
slipped a faded picture across its threshold.
As always it showed that captured half-smile,
but until lately I never noticed the off-boil simmer
in those hot cocoa eyes whose gaze I tried
but could never hold. It’s for the best my grip
couldn’t stand the heat, and your focus alit
upon more distant objects of what passed for desire.
I nudged shut the door and the wind swept away
most of the memory out where, really, it belongs.
But some dust of it I never can blink out.
I guess that belongs where it belongs, too.

The Search


The search begins and ends
in this same spot every day,
where the concrete beneath me
is as hard as a cold-blooded heart
but as giving of daylong warmth
as a full bottle.

The seeking is much better at night,
when you can’t see the memories
in the face of the sun.
Those are the ones that hurt
if you stare too long at them.
And faces are meant to be ignored.

Illumination and clarity
are overrated anyway when
what you’re trying to remember
is how to forget, and the memory
is as rough as this concrete upon
which the search begins and ends.

I prefer the hard and warm
of this perch, and the comfort
of that bottle, to the soft
and cold arms that won’t let me
go, chill and flaccid as
the lips they drew to mine.

A raw free write for Kellie Elmore’s photo prompt below the title. The arresting photo is by Kellie, as well.

Dawn’s Blazing

Buck Mtn

Buck Mtn (Photo credit: mopar05ram)

This sun yellow pencil lost its great weight
and near-death infirmity overnight.
It arose like dawn from its sickbed
and, come the morning, once again
we hiked around this open space
visiting its mountainous thoughts and questions,
but not so many enshadowed answers.
We leave our blaze marks upon the snowy spirits
of once-towering Adirondack arboreal tribes
to find our way to and from whispered
babblings of sun-flecked streams
of the conscious and the not, so
full of smooth green-slicked rocks and
pin-prick inspirations darting like shiners.
I hear windsongs breathing suggestively
across my woodwind ears. We mark down
their messages and and pray forgiveness
for exposing this sacred place.
Why couldn’t we find it yesterday?
And why, I wonder, would I ever wish
to find my way back to that place
of mere near-life again?

The Whirlwind’s Wake


They come on with barely a warning,
these blasts to the heart cyclonic,
leaving behind torn life lying scattered
and your scattered lies tearing at life.
When you try to catch one of these
twisted things, you can become
so intent on its skips and feints
you lose your grip on the reins of reality,
bucking the whirlwind like some
pentametric Pecos Bill.

Tossed and broken in its wake,
you think, nah, that was a fluke,
a blink of inattention to the moment.
But within that moment you realize
a tornado can leave a landscape broken
or it can strip it bare of all in its
swirling sweep. You watch it walk away,
knowing it could be worse, piecing together
the debris of what might have been,
instead of starting over with your heart
swept clean as a prairie in August.

This week, my friend Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompt was the photo above this poem.  She called it “It was a Dark and Stormy Night, after tornado blew through her neck of the woods. I took a somewhat different view of a storm’s aftermath.

Five Sentence Fiction ~ Delicate

Baby Face

Black Eye 9

Black Eye 9 (Photo credit: diongillard)

“Sweet Baby Jesus, what’s this?” Nurse Brenda Jarvis said as two 300-pound men in tracksuits lumbered through the swooshing sliding double-doorway of the hospital emergency entrance.

“The bell, the bell,” roared the one whose right eye was swollen shut in what looked like an impression of a purple and red desert sunset and who seemed a little wobbly on his feet.

“You’ll have to pardon my friend, he caught himself a terrible shot — well, I actually I caught him a terrible shot, my bad — downtown tonight and I’m afraid he’s a little loopy and been ranting like this since he looked at his phone,” said the other behemoth, sporting a bruised cheek, scarred forehead, and swollen hands with which he held his friend steady as best he could a ranting bull.

As Nurse Jarvis took the arm of the injured man, with an assist from his wingman, to lead him and to Treatment Room 6, he jerked free from both and bolted for the stairwell, roaring, “Coming, baby!”

Fifteen minutes of frantic, lock-down searching later, security found Mickey Karpinski, who wrestled under the name Awesome Dawson Dare, in the room of his wife Cathy, tenderly their holding hours’ old, pink-swaddled firstborn, Bella.

Here is my latest Five Sentence Fiction offering, based on a prompt from Lillie McFerrin. This week: Delicate.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Five Sentence Fiction ~ Devotion

Nick Barbara


Distance (Photo credit: las – initially)

“You’re a hopeless case, you know, and not even a Lourdes of Love will ever make her give it up for you,” I said to my love-struck and somewhat drunk buddy Nick.

“Now that’s where you’re wrong,” Nick said, his face taking on a beatific—or insane—glow, “and when I tell Barbara again how I really, really feel, she’ll have to come back to me.”

Nick flung the apartment door open and ricocheted down the stairs, leaving a doorknob-shaped hole in our wall and tracks of any sane sense of propriety behind him.

I knew where he was headed, so I followed Nick’s path to Barbara’s folks’ house, where they told me he’d already left to find Barbara…at her new place.

And I found him sitting with Barbara, his chin firmly fixed to his chest, her hand leaving his shoulder, there on the steps of St. Stephen’s Novitiate, and I could tell the paths to their respective objects of devotion had crossed and moved on forever.

© Joseph Hesch 2012

Lillie McFerrin

Here is my latest Five Sentence Fiction offering, based on a prompt from Lillie McFerrin. This week: Devotion.

If I Could Write Short

I wish I could write short.
I’d pen you polished little gems
you’d breeze all the way through,
even holding your breath.
And, when you finished,
you’d let out a “Wheww!”
take a deep breath
and read it again and again,
“Wheww! Gasp! Wheww!”
I’d write you a book of
poetic aerobics,
and maybe you’d feel
the burn of my words
in your chest.