Sifting Through the Dust

The tactile memories have
flown with the winds of time,
carried on the dust
of crumbled happiness.
Would you recognize the voice
if it echoed back, back, back
to your age-muffled ears?
Would you attest, “Yes, that’s
the one,” should they approach
through these dark dreamy mists?
Probably not, since all you recall
are feelings, emotional placeholders,
little more than silhouettes
of erstwhile three dimensional,
wished-for perceptions.
So why do you hold onto
these faded portraits
of the never-really was?
Perhaps it’s because you hope
someone’s sifting through the dust
of shadow-thin memories of You,
and wondering, too.

A Touch of Memory

Why I can never let go?
Is it because your invisible grip
remains on my memory,
that guilelessly smooth
expanse where the world
has left ridges, whorls
and smudges to mark its passage
through the my library halls?
Despite the Hands Off signs
I’ve scattered, the mess
everyone left has rendered
any of my reflections
impossible to grasp.
Except where you’ve left
your glancing caress.
I keep that hidden
so no onecan mar where
your fingertips will linger
upon my face whenever I look
on this space I hold dear.
And where I hold you, dear,
never to let go.

Run Aground

Allegheny morning
© Diana Matisz, 2019

I still see your reflection
whenever the river slows
in its infrequently placid way,
kicking out sparkles here and there
just to make sure I notice.
Then a tug will push a barge past,
always laden with the weight
of the world someone’s mined,
all the time arguing
with underlying currents,
unseen snags and shallows,
whining of rusted steel on steel
and the strain of tarred ropes
that bind. And the wake
of their passage slices your image
into slivers of memory, emanating waves
that buoy and ground me as I list
in this spot, unable to move on.

With thanks to my dear friend Diana Matisz, who’s images have inspired me for years and I hope still will for years to come.

Composition In White and Black

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2018

You know it’s Winter when
the sky and ground
mirror one another,
and near their middle
the roads, trees and houses
provide the deep-end
grayscale contrast.
You can sit at your window
on a Sunday morning,
squint and nothing changes,
as if the whole scene’s
like a painting by Franz Kline.
Then drop of black
from the upper right corner
drifts through the dark
middle ground to the lower white,
to become a jagged spot
where the white paint flaked off
leaving behind a black canvas.
I know it’s really a crow,
but I’ll hold this squint
until Spring.

Cold Day in Hell


So many times I’ve tried to forget
and grew angry when I couldn’t.
Other times I wanted to get angry
but forgot how. They’re all
tiring and tiresome
wastes of time and what little spark
I can stir to heat the teakettle
of each new day to steaming.
Most days I barely hit a simmer.
But you always seemed to have
your emotional flamethrower primed
to incinerate that lifetime supply
of kindling you’ve kept seasoning
on the back porch of your soul.
I can’t recall which is worse,
to burn down your own house
or freeze within.
Guess we’ll never know.

Listening to Music Alone in the Dark

Was it really that long ago,
when the music washed over us
like a warm breeze off the ocean?
There in the dark I closed my eyes
so imaginary sand wouldn’t seep into them
and tears would not weep out.
Is it really so long ago that you
“wow’d” and wondered how I knew
so much about this and that,
and nothing about you and I?
I stopped wondering long ago,
after I “why’d” and answered
my own question. I still sit
in the dark and let the music
wash over me, but now with
eyes open and imagination shut.

Miss You

The rain taps at my window,
each drop a throat-clearing
attempting to pull my attention
away from this desk. But,
though I’m staring right at
piles of papers, pens, and pencils,
I’m not really seeing them.
These days attention comes like
a poor man’s paycheck, slipping
through my fingers before
I can actually grasp it,
like raindrops sliding down that
drumhead pane of glass over there.
No, my attention is on a photograph,
a touch, a smell and a voice
my senses won’t again caress.
Now it’s dripping onto this paper
atop those words:
“Miss You.”