Farewell Flight

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The leaves are finally dropping
from the oaks, assisted by
the rain and just enough wind
to yell, “C’mon, already, jump!”
to the tawny holdouts.
Their brothers and sisters
still clinging to the branches
wave goodbye to the soon-to-be
bushels of russet rustlers
who’ve danced across my grass
from one neighbor’s line
to the opposite.
They know it’s goodbye
after learning the leaf life
there on their shelves
of that library oak,
whose counts her years in
in a hundred rings and to whom
this leaf-fall’s nothing more
than another brushing of dust
off her winter coat.

Rainy day observation and photo by your faithful (illustrated) storyteller,
Joseph Hesch © 2016.

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In the Shadow of Gull Mountain

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The Colonie landfill towers above
the roadway along the last run
of the Mohawk River before it drops
with a roar into the Hudson.
It stands as a sandy, ever-growing
monument to modern excess.
When the wind blows across
the mountain of detritus,
scraps of loose paper scud
across the face of the erstwhile dump
like streaks of snow caress
Mt. Everest’s icy profile.

But today the scraps of white
and gray seem to be holding
and folding in a position
above the man-made mound of jetsam.
Flocks of misplaced gulls,
peppered with scores of crows,
have succeeded in confusing my eyes
as they swoop and circle
in a trash-picking murmuration
even the starlings fear to join.

Along the road I see more crows
moping in the autumn-emptied
maples and birches, their wings
tucked in shrugs, waiting for
the trucks to deliver their
next meal. Maybe it’ll be pizza, or
at least the pizza crust within
the flat cardboard box that always
flies off the back and takes wing
with the rest of our flocks
in the shadow of Gull Mountain.

Listening for the Colors of Late October

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As October slides on wet
fallen leaves into November,
the morning wonders if
it’s really arisen. Out my window,
color is a muted thing,
if the reflection of colored light
is something you can hear.
My eyes strain to pick up
any sound that might be more than
a thump or a creak. But no.
The grass has lost its verdant harmony,
where the breezes bend each supple blade
in concert like a vast woodwind section.
The trees mumble like drugged-up hookers
waiting for gravity to finish
stripping them to the skin and
their cold intercourse with winter.
Only in the distance do I hear
the crackle and crash of
the far end of the spectrum,
a roaring row of tympani and cymbals.
The burning bushes stand out like
a bleeding gash on pale skin,
fireworks on a starless night.
And I get on my feet because I hear
their beat within my chest and scuff
in time to the kitchen for
a cup of today.

Wrote one going to bed and another when I awoke. Seems like old times.

Our Prayers Answered, Damn It

A tornado near Anadarko, Oklahoma.

A tornado near Anadarko, Oklahoma. Via Wikipedia

When afternoon arrived,
the sun had fired morning
into a cumulonimbus alloy
of power and potential.
We looked up at the
cloud tops to see if summer
forged an anvil upon which
it would clang out sparks
and pound down thunderclaps
that’d serve as overture or
accompaniment to the weaving
of wind and water with want.
Should the clouds gray up,
covered with the soot of
Satan’s fires, if Heaven
might go all ablaze because
Hell just froze over, hopefully
the demon’s tail doesn’t fall
to ground, collecting our
bone-dry souls when all we did
was pray for rain.

Until I Drop

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Crow, insidious in his element. Copyright 2015, J. A. Hesch

The crows stalk the wild
near-subterranean somethings
in the far part of my yard.
Bugs and grubs are their
Beluga and Cristal.
Dressed as they are in flashy
funereal ebony, midday sun’s
proven too much even for
these surface-spelunking
scavengers.

They scrape their voices against
my rain-needy sandpaper soil,
lift off for the shade trees,
and become one with the shadows
until the sun tips over
those leafy tops and day begins
its crawl to crow-wing night.

From the window of this
air-conditioned room, I bury
beneath the sod of my suburban
manliness a green jealousy
of their ways, working my grass
from end to end, front to back,
and never losing a drop of sweat,
or even a minute, to watching me
while I’m out there sweating
until I drop.

We Swoop to Conquer

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I’ve heard her many nights,
sounding to this groggy traveler
on the road to Nod like a reveler
out back who’s maybe had too many
and felt like hootin’ instead of hollerin’.
There’s no denying she’s
the genuine article if you’ve heard
that true whooo-who-who-whoooo.
I’d give anything to see her swoop
from the oak in the full moon’s light.
I imagine she’d appear like a ghostly
autumn leaf in an early fall
upon some deserving tunneling varmint.
This morning, I came as close
as I ever will to catching that owl
in flight when one of her feathers
stayed behind, in post-predatory landing,
upon the grass below my window on
the natural and imaginary worlds.
It’s now my talisman for these flights
into the darkness where I hunt
for the beginnings, middles and ends of
the whats, the whens, the wheres, the whys
and, of course, all those whos.

Found that feather up there in my back yard this morning. Thought it might be a hawk feather. But my wife noted that she heard our recent visitor out back last night. Sure enough, a short check of Internet resources confirmed it’s a flight feather from a Great Horned Owl. I just couldn’t let all this go without making a written “something” out of it.

Passages ~ A Haibun

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If islands could cross paths in the heat of the doldrums, it would be you and I. Some seismic instigation overcoming emotional inertia, pushing each toward an Equator where we awkwardly touched, Ancient Mariners of the Tradewinds, individual albatrosses in place, brushing one another. It was an awkward kiss, on a downhill glide from one squall on the way to another. The slantless sunbeams, ever in squares of ninety degrees, never foreshadowing these memories logged in a bold black hand, soon enough ripped from the bindings, yet never discarded. We each to our own hemisphere have kept since that fearsome time, when we lowered our colors, but never our guard, without salute, just a passage of singular islands trying to prove John Donne wrong when we were certain those noontime bells tolled for the other thee and not for we.

Summer sun’s heartbeat
its heat echoes off sea and thee
yet coldly we passed

Poem #17 of Poem-A-Day NaPoWriMo. Robert Lee Brewer asked for a haiku today. That’s how I started writing poetry, feeling safer within that 5-7-5 syllabic hug. Here’s my effort, though, as usual going a little too far. It’s a Haibun (俳文 ?, literally, haikai writings), combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem, short story and travel journal. I think I jammed them all in here.