Reflection Upon a Winter Night

Daily Shoot 12.18.09: Flame

Flame (Photo credit: incanus)

Once was a time when twinkling
candle lights in the windows
could warm even this wintered soul
enough to carry it until green
was a living thing again. Tonight
it lies in that long, bloodless moment.
It reflects this pallid season of giving,
these abbreviated journal entries of light
pressed between the covers
of yards and yards of velvet night.

What will it take to poke awake
any remaining embers to a smolder,
breathe ill-remembered fires
to the merest crackle of being?
You brush my hand, lacy, absent-minded,
barely noticed, and an old sensation
swims up to what passes for a heart.
The corner of my mind reflects glimmer,
its own Light in the East. Veins sense
a temperate pulse, gifts of a life.

And you’ve saved me. Again.

© Joseph Hesch 2013


Maybe Tomorrow

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A week’s freezing cold didn’t bring me
the numbness I need. Always before,
lack of sensation was my refuge,
even before north winds turned my eyes red
and the single digits froze each fingertip
a deathly white, white as the snow
that slapped my cheeks with raw reality
this morning. Maybe tomorrow.

The snow was our canvas, upon which
we painted winter-wide murals and
our ever-whitening portraits, from those
two feet and a chubby snow angel
to the broad icebreaker paths we’d carve,
leaving wakes of winter, like rustic frames
in our personal galleries of year after year.
I could just stay alone by the window,
watch it fall, pile, blow across the grass,
jealously watch scratchy weeds break the trail
we once blazed in the bedsheet smoothness.

But I can’t. I must move along, muck up
the natural perfection with my pen-nib boots
writing this diary entry for one,
the same painful one as yesterday’s.
No cold, time, or any vacant expanse
of paper white are numbing enough,
still can’t dull the pain of this life’s winter,
eyes red and fingers wrung deathly white.
Maybe tomorrow. Please, maybe tomorrow.

I don’t want to keep writing these poems, but I can’t seem to lift out of this damn dark ink well. Maybe tomorrow.

Ode to Lefty

Mirror image
to my write hand,
holding my
notebook or
whiskered chin
as Righty
emotes below.
That’s been
your nature,
the supporter,
the abettor,
the one always ready
to lend yourself
in autonomic response
to the task at
you know.

I was always happy
to give you
the spotlight,
pass you the ball
on what was once
a wicked crossover.
You would work
your two bounces
and a floater
to the hoop.
A solo worthy
of Clapton
or Miles.
As always,
you’d defer
to your dominant
partner —
sometimes letting
know you had Game
by going
between the legs —
for the glory
of his jumpshot.
Even though
we both knew
never could
hit the
broad side
of a barn.

But most of all,
I recall
your night job,
how you’d
reach down
from your
black lounger
to rub her throat
and neck,
smooth those
velvet ears
between your
puppy-tooth scarred
and index finger,
march down
that furry spine
to pat
her bony rump
and make
the return trip
when she’d
lift her head,

Lefty, you were
the one
who never
left her side
until she
left yours.
And I recall
how you
didn’t wash
for a day
and a half
after that,
just kept
up to my face
that aroma
of memory.
You let
wipe at
the tears.

Penned this in response to a call for a Pablo Neruda-style ode by my friends at dVerse Poets. Not sure if I was successful, but it made me happy to write it.


Orchestra Night - AAO & Forsythe

Orchestra Night – AAO & Forsythe (Photo credit: CaZaTo Ma)

Pain has long washed over me
like the waves of a symphony orchestra.
It’s manifestation from pizzicato strings,
up the ranks to shrill reeds and blaring brass.
The concert master within plucks a string,
a twinge, a spark in my body,
or draws his bow long, back and forth,
so seamlessly extending the exquisite tone
across my neck, my shoulder, all the parts
grown to accept the groaning background music
of a life full with this symphony
of self-written suffering. Today,
muffled timpani, always there, almost-hidden
by itself in the left side of the back row,
thuds its dull soreness, the ensemble resting
for a few bars. It’s a manly ache, this,
a limping, crippling thump played
with a pair of lives I’ve left ungrieved,
the heartbeat of my days, my nights,
this concerto of my times.

Enraptured ~ A Story


lace_black_02 (Photo credit: queenBlingerie)

“While I’m in the shower,” Elise said over her shoulder to Glenn, her date this hot July night, “would you be a love and pick out a set of undies from the fridge for me…whatever strikes your fancy.”

As he pulled a sandwich bag – a sandwich bag! – full of black lace from the vegetable crisper, the open refrigerator  couldn’t cool the burning on Glenn’s face, nor the burning question others asked of whether he’d bitten off more than he chew in asking out Elise.

He couldn’t think of anything but Elise since she came to the firm’s Cincinnatti office from Columbus, a law school buddy of Glenn’s supervisor, and how he finally got up the courage to ask this edgy, cerebral beauty out.

Over the sound of the shower, feeling the chilled bra strap between his warm fingers and along a gelid lightning bolt from his right shoulder to his navel, Glenn heard Elise sweetly call, “Just leave them on the bed or dresser, Glenn…I promise not to keep you waiting long.”

Glenn was about to place the underwear on the long dark dresser when he noticed two gold bands and a diamond ring sitting in a blue dish; he blinked, stared at his reflection in the mirror, then shrugged at the familiar-looking guy goofily grinning there, and sat softly on the bed.

A flash of Five Sentence Fiction today, based on the word Enrapture from Lillie McFerrin.

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.

Remembering Dave Carter, who saved me…again

Dave Carter

Dave Carter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before I became what some call a poet, I couldn’t tell a Sara Teasdale from a Saran tea cozy, a Billy from a Tom Collins. But I recognized what I considered mastery of words and how some men and women gave them a heartbeat that mine would echo, a vision that I could see.

Besides Dylan, (Bob, not Thomas) Paul Simon (to whom I give thanks for that last bit), Leonard Cohen, Nanci Griffith and their rarefied ilk, there came late to grace my mind’s ear a songwriter most of you probably never heard of named Dave Carter.

And seemingly as soon as I “discovered” him, Dave was taken away, at age 49, by a heart attack just a few counties east of here in Hadley, Mass., on the morning of July 19, 2002.

This passing hit me in a way I did not expect…harder than I would imagine during this time of my depression and illness. And, in retrospect, I think the poet (for he was a poet of brilliant gifts) Dave Carter’s death may in some way have been a spark toward my becoming a writer again after I came through my little heart and head issues a few years ago. You never know when that tap on your shoulder will come again, so I decided to become the me you’ve come to read.

I was feeling a little blue today and wasn’t sure exactly why, I’m sure it’s a compost heap of things, from which I hope someday something fine will grow. But, once I remembered the date and listened to a bunch of Dave’s songs with his partner in music and life Tracy Grammer, I remembered how lucky I am to still be here and able to express myself as I now do. Certainly not so well as that poet of the plains, Dave Carter did. More like a poet of the plain, and that’ll have to do.

I may never be published, may never submit again, but I can’t deny what I’ve been given.

Do yourself a favor and check out some of Dave’s lyrics someday, particularly The Mountain and Tanglewood Tree.  Until then, here’s a glimpse of Dave and Tracy doing his song that I want played on my way outta this somewhat brightening world. Maybe I’ll meet Dave then in Happytown. It’s called When I Go.