Written in Stone

Stones know the score;
nobody bothers them and fewer still
are bothered by them.
Well, except occasionally
touchy sandal wearers or maybe
old-timey New England farmers.
But you hardly ever hear
about stones getting in trouble.
What? That Cain and Abel affair?
Stone fell in with a bad crowd.
Other than that, only flashy stones
get noticed and then cause trouble.
I think the lesson here —
one I didn’t learn soon enough —
is stones should eschew fussy farmers and
prickly poetasters. And maybe you can
hang with such sandaled shepherds
who are not yet Kings.
It’s probably good to be a stone.
Just be hard, lay low,
keep your dirty face shut
and hopefully they’ll never
crack you. Like you did me.

© 2012 Joseph Hesch

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The Eve, the Day, the Joy

By Joseph Hesch

On the Eve and Day of Joy,
the presents were covered
in their smooth and sparkling raiment,
as were the trees and roads
in their fresh-snow greeting card grandeur.
Come the gathering, all those wrappings,
of packages and countryside,
were torn by child and adult,
each in their own way—
hand, scissor, sled, SUV. 
The magic was so quickly broken,
And what was smooth wonder
and sparkling mystery
the night before and at dawn,
had been torn, crumpled, stained
and rendered debris and nuisance
to everyone’s continued joy.
Moms and Dads near-curse the mess
of late-day. Kids ignore or revel in its chaos.
On Boxing Day the broken ugliness
of cold fact will be exposed.
Yet all will be forgotten with the advent
of a new year, a new hope,
a new anticipation
for the sleek magic of the Eve and
the Day we came together
and were joyously unbroken.

Over the Top

By Joseph Hesch

She always had a problem 
with how he tended to over-think, 
over-do, over-reach, 
over-react, over-analyze, 
over-everything.
So, because he loved her so very, very much, 
he tried to change, a total make-over.
He tried to become like he saw her, 
accepting things as they came,
not sweating the small stuff. 
Something he wasn’t, really.
He beat himself nearly senseless 
to overcome his obsession
to make a big deal over every
little thing in his life. 
Understandably,
he was perplexed by the how or why, he
underestimated how much 
he’d changed to be the guy 
he thought she wanted.
That’s why he never fully
understood what to do, 
when she said,
“We’re so over.”

The Answer

By Joseph Hesch

Outside, early morning, mid-December
and the howling wind is strumming a
C-chord through the trees.
Even above that din, I hear
the familiar tones overhead.

There, moving in a diagonal,
like a sidewinder snaking south,
or a streamer of mercury sliding across
a wobbly zinc tabletop,
are half a hundred Canada geese.

And I shiver. Not because of the wind
and December’s cold, but because
the unspeaking natural world had
once again addressed a question
I hadn’t even known I was asking.

The question I couldn’t
speak or write is answered across
the December sky in that language
without words, the one that speaks
more truth than that of Man:
It’s never too late.

As I was working outside the other day, I heard in the distance something I used to not hear until it was just above my head (if at all). There, in ragged V winging south, was the first company of migrating Canada Geese I’d seen this Fall. I’m not sure why, but that incessant honking sound, some overlapping the others as if they were sound shadows, stirs some visceral response in me. I feel somehow energized and inspired. And so I was this time. Seeing them put me in mind of another group I had seen last year. I write about those travelers here.

This Boy’s Life


By Joseph Hesch

I took a walk by myself yesterday
and recalled how much I always loved
just walking and watching. 
“Woolgathering,” Grandma called it.
“You’re wasting time, little boy,” she’d preach.
Years and years of it have reaped me a lot of wool,
or maybe just the dust of memories by now.

An ancient tree in the park caught my attention.
It knew I was coming; its limbs waved me down.
And on the edge of the yawning mouth
in the tree’s face—a gash big enough
for a bear to hide in—
rose an impudent squirrel.
He hurled me a lesson full of sound and
fury on behalf of his silent old host,
a fiery flicking tongue testifying there’s some life
left in the old boy, and chit-chitting his pride
that he’s a big piece of it.

That’s when I realized how much I loved my
walks and secret conversations with the world.
I don’t feel like I’ve wasted all of those memories.
I carry their dust in my bones, I’m sure.
They just need to be reconstituted
by fresh perspective and the miracle voices.
Now I collect them, commit them to paper,
and share them with the nascent me,
that fiery, furry—or is it wooly?—
young poem maker who
resides inside this dry old hide. 

Photo by Ruban Phukan


Heliophobia

By Joseph Hesch

Too long, I’ve worn delusion as a hood
covering my better judgment, when,
time and again, I tortured myself
with chains of baseless obsessions.
Sense of duty, senseless mooning,
all cloaked in claustrophobic darkness
where, if some small ray of truth leaked in,
I willingly closed my eyes to accept
my next bruising lesson in Life.
I wish I could find that hand,
the one I could trust to lift this hood,
leading me to daylight, instead of
coming down upon it again and again,
beating the emotional daylights out of me.
I’m willing to crack open my eyes
and extend to you my hand in something more
than its defensive or aggressive attitude,
but only if you promise never to use yours
upon me while my back is turned.
Or are you another of my delusions?

Another study of the lonely, those fearful of the light of truth or so deep in the well of depression that all they think they have to comfort them wrapping themselves in more darkness. Heliophobia is my post this week for dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Mike Night. Check it out and see what all the joyous noise is about.

Target of Opportunity

My Valentine

My Valentine (Photo credit: oxygeon)

Once I think I caught a glimpse of it
from the corner of the corner of my eye.
And when I thought I had found it,
it turns out it had found me.

Maybe it was looking for me all along,
instead of the other way around.
I think when you’re looking for it,
you’ll more than likely walk right by

the real thing, like it was
an Apache hidden in the scrub brush,
looking like another piece of the scenery.
It’s waiting to see if you’re worth the arrow.

Maybe that’s why when I think I got
close to it, I felt the hairs
on the back of my neck stretch themselves
a little bit taller.

Stupid hair, making me a bigger target.
Stupid me, not knowing that reaction’s
what I should have been looking for
in the first place.