A Message Without Words

The western hemisphere of the Blue Marble.
Image Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory

No birds do I hear
nor squirrels I see running
in the trees out back.
A sign that something’s coming?
Maples dropping leaves
in August is a surprise,
though not unheard of.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes
since I was a small kid
a time or two I would say.
But please tell which wind
would blow the bird songs away.
And shouldn’t squirrels
be stocking their year-end stores
in expectation
of winter’s cold at their doors?
The birds should still sing
if not all day, then morning.
If they don’t, is it
maybe some kind of warning?
Perhaps I see ghosts
or I’m reading ‘tween the lines.
While Fall’s weeks away,
calendars can’t read these signs
that weather’s changing,
even the animals can tell.
They’re telling us
in a language clear as bell
that maybe it’s time
to not just listen, but hear
the warning we’ve missed
that’s told all around this sphere.
They don’t know science,
but instinct sometimes trumps all.
Even animals know
we’ve fucked up our big Blue Ball.

The maples ARE dropping their leaves in August. And yesterday even I noticed the birdsongs had stopped, only the sound of crows remaining. I haven’t seen the squirrels and woodchucks that use my back yard as a combination supermarket and playground for days. I’m sure this is some anomaly, but even this vacuous scribbler can see our weather is changing…and faster than just Earth’s historical shifts. Ergo, I let Nature tell this little rhyming verse in links of five and seven syllable lines — the classic nature poetic form of the haiku.

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Like Rain on the Red Maple

Raindrops trampoline
down the red maple
one springy purple leaf
to another until
coming to rest
in the sand-bound grass.
While the rain sinking
through the ground
to its roots literally
brings it life,
its acrobatics upon
the maple’s leaves
bring it to life.
Perhaps that’s what
life’s woes do to us,
falling upon us and
rattling down our spirits
until they drop us
to our knees.
What if we’re more
like that tree,
standing tall and
resilient, knowing
woes are part of living.
We can repel them,
not only surviving
but perhaps emerging
with spirits full of life.

Today’s right-out-of-bed on a rainy morning poem.

The Homeowner and the Crow ~ A Georgic Fable

The Man stood ready, his lawn to spray
In order to kill off or at least chase away
Those bugs and such turning his green grass to hay
“I’d reconsider that, if I was you,” he heard a voice say.

And, looking up, in the maple he spied a crow
Staring down at him and speaking, for a crow, quite low.
“Why should a bird of the air care what I sow?”
The Man said, knowing t’was poison, not seed, he’d throw.

“I see on that bag the sign of the skull and bones,”
Crow squawked down disapprovingly to Homeowner Jones
“And that won’t work on all the bugs in certain zones.”
The Man did pause, wondered what else he could use to end his lawn’s moans.

“What other remedy is there that will rid us of the bugs
Turning our lawns into naught but scratchy yellow rugs?”
He asked crow. “You leave this to me and not those jugs
Of drugs or whatever. Go back inside for more coffee mugs.”

Crow said, and Man for once listened and decided to agree
With crow, not knowing if this junk might even kill friendly bee.
“Okay, Crow, you go ahead. I’ll accede to your plea.
I’ll be back tomorrow,” he said, as Crow alit from the tree.

And when he returned, Man found Crow was gone
As well as great patches of what once was his lawn.
From above he heard a cackling black bird laugh on and on,
And he knew he’d been bamboozled from yesterday to dawn.

The moral of our Georgic fable, one you might find on Pinterest,
Is if you’re looking for a natural remedy to bugs big, bigger or biggerest,
Check with a human expert in agricultural entomology, I insist
And never some clever bug or grub-eating bird with a vested interest.

For Day 22 of NaPoWriMo, I once again combined prompts, one calling for a Virgilian Georgic and the other for a poetic fable. Considering I cranked this out in about twenty minutes, I’ll take what I got, though as an agriculturally instructional Georgic poem, as well as providing a moral, old Virgil and Aesop are no doubt spinning like tops in their final rests somewhere above or sub rosa. (Photo copyright 2016 Joseph Hesch.)

Portrait of an Artist Named Stella

From inside the little house
within the suburban snow globe,
someone’s given us a good shaking.
Our paper weight neighborhood’s
been plopped onto a potter’s wheel
and is riding a most vigorous spin.
Outside, the landscape’s molding
into plaster life masks of houses,
the road. Cars and trucks
idly shiver beneath the skeletal
fine-limned trees that stand and sway
as if stroked in India ink upon
this immaculate gesso. Or at least
that’s what my bleary eyes see
of our homes enclosed within
this seasonal table top tchotchke.
I’m told there’s an escape-hatch
equinox whose surname connotes Green
over the horizon. But the horizon
lies way past anything I can see
through the snow-smoky white winds
spinning around me while I sit
staring out the window in
the little house within the snow globe
on the desk, where the dizzy poet
pens a blizzard named Stella’s biography.

The Oak, the Man and the Mighty Weed

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Even the regal oak,
the mightiest tree
in this forest,
can be felled
by a man,
if he has enough friends or
he’s resolute or arrogant enough
to keep hacking away
until the erstwhile acorn
cries out in its wrenching
death song and,
like its

autumn

leaf,

drops.

But the simple weed
bent by wind,
starved for food and water,
cut off at its knees,
pulled from its home,
even poisoned, still
manages to come back
to stand up to
he who can best
the majestic oak,
vexing Man until
he might drop
like the

autumn

leaf.

Be the weed.

A bit of verse that reminds us to always question authority, always stand up for your rights, always, as the Quakers say, speak truth to power. As individuals or group, we have more dominion and strength than you might think.

Fresh Canvas

Unblemished and waiting  © Joseph Hesch, 2011

Unblemished and waiting
© Joseph Hesch, 2011

When which is sky
and which is ground
can only be determined
by the faint horizon
of trees and houses,
you know winter’s taken
its broad brush to the world.
While fresh on the canvas
of the neighborhood’s
dormant grass or
the dark driveways and rooftops,
the snow is a frosty gesso
waiting for the artists
to scribe their marks.
Out front, homeowners scrape
black lines of tire tracks,
swaths of plowed driveways
and shoveled walks in their
gallery of suburban Mondrians.
But out back, the furry natives
leave their tiny glyphs
telling histories before
written history and
the trees shake a new coating
of white upon which to write
the next chapter with each gust
from the northwest.

Turf War

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Slow Crow #1, © Joseph Hesch 2016

With the measured arrogance
of a tinpot dictator,
the obsidian autocrat
struts across my lawn
as if it’s his.
He drives his saber-sharp beak
into the near-frozen turf and
shakes it free with millennia
of hard-wired insouciance.
Whatever tidbit he’s plucked
from my front lawn will have to do,
since he’s cleared the larder
that once was my backyard.
With unhurried flaps and
scolding rasp he escapes
up into the maple after I rap
upon the front window.
Sneering with confidence
he proclaims I might hold
the deed to this property,
but it’s, without question,
his turf.

I shot that photo of a crow aerating my lawn this morning in his self-proclaimed primacy over his tenant farmer — me. This poem I wrote in the ten minutes before lights-out for the night, while I stewed over how right he was.