Truest of Care

Let’s clear the air,
let down our hair,
go on a real tear.
It’s time we dare
our secrets to bare.
Yeah, even go There.
When we were a pair,
not really, but somewhere
more than one and a spare,
I couldn’t help but stare
at that hot chocolate pair
of eyes you wear,
even when you’d glare
at me with your hair
on fire, temper aglare.
I was caught in your snare,
though you weren’t aware
of setting one anywhere.
So let me just declare
I never meant impair
our friendship so fair,
based on trust, a flair
for art and respect I bear
for who you are and ne’er
will forget the rare
thing we once did share.
Not true love, truest of care.

Better late than never (or, God forbid miss a day with only three to go). Life finally got in the way of art. Here’s NaPoWriMo Day 28’s piece, a poem in something resembling Skeltonic Verse, which I’m sure I screwed up. But I had fun running my version out with each line ending with a word rhyming with “air.”

Appetites for Destruction

He didn’t make a sound,
at least not one I could hear,
but the ruckus this pest raises
was like a crack of thunder in my ear.
You’d see him ramble from the kitchen
to dining, and then living room,
looking for a crunchy snack,
without even a hiccup of doom.
I tried not to wince when
I saw his nonchalant mien,
but he’d come not only for dinner, but for
every other meal, even those in-between.
See, it isn’t the taste of sugar
luring this intruder into my house,
he relishes the wood it’s made from,
chewing holes into it like a mouse.
So a hit man I called,
my whole joint to festoon
with a taste-free spray, which
put my fears of collapse to rest soon.
I’m relieved my guest no longer will dine
all around me, my home to lay waste. He
also won’t provoke the dawn wall-hammering
woodpecker, who finds carpenter ants so tasty.
The moral here, friends, if a moral’s your trick,
is don’t be so naive as I, a city boy so thick
I bought a home made of what builders term “stick,”
instead of like my old place, constructed of brick.

For Day 27 of NaPoWriMo, I combined NaPoWriMo.net’s prompt calling for a poem exploring the sense of taste with Robert Lew Brewer’s word bank prompt. In the latter I was to use at least three of the following six words in my poem: pest, crack, ramble, hiccup, wince and festoon. Only three, Robert? You know me better than that.

Also, I’d like to extend my thanks to NaPoWriMo.net, who named yours truly as its featured participant today.

No Regrets, Just One Surrender

When they finally discover my bones —
should the occasion ever arise
that a future someone stumbles upon me
while clearing a plot for Hydrangeas,
tomatoes or more bones —
when they crack through and find
the cracks I’ve put in this
old skeleton, will they wonder
what this being did to collect so many
breaks in his framing pieces?
Will they see the two scarred ribs
and know that each happened in
a different winter of my discontent?
Will they wonder over the dents and
cracks in the skull, and think it was
the castle keep of a warrior’s mind?
Or that of a poet who always tried playing
above his program weight, usually failed,
but never failed to try again?
I wonder if they’ll see my family placed
my coach’s whistle around my neck,
my tablet in one hand and this secret optimist’s
(broken) fingers crossed one upon the other?
What they won’t find will be any markers
of regret on this old fossil for any
of this busted crockery of mine left behind.
I gladly earned each and every one of them.

Day 26 of NaPoWriMo calls for a poem about what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us. I took that prompt it right down to the bones. My bones.

Whole Worlds Inside This Tiny Old Box

On its outside, it’s not much to look at, just
a wooden box, six slabs of worn, tan-painted plywood
held together by nails and a couple extra screws
I drove into it so it wouldn’t fall apart last winter.
Inside is even less impressive: just bare wood
bearing the stains of rain leaking within, as well as
the outline of the small ski slope that blows in
whenever the blizzards breach its ill-fitting door.
It all smells of damp domestic pinewood.
But inside that dark interior, new places visit me.
The bill for my car comes from Philly,
Bev’s anniversary card from Florida. The travel mag
teases me with views of Nova Scotia, a river cruise
on the Rhine and exploring the dusty red-gold
beauty of Arizona.
It’s an adventure each time I walk down
the driveway in my tiny suburban world
and reach into the vastly wider one stuffed
within its corners. I still get as excited as
the seven-year-old whose world didn’t extend
more than one block from our house on
Bradford Street in Albany. But inside, my
imagination still transports me as far as
these creaky old boxes perched on my lawn
and shoulders can take me today.

Day 25 of NaPoWriMo called for a poem descriptive of a small space. I chose inside my mailbox, which, while cramped, still transports me to places I’ll never set foot except in my imagination.

One Final Shout of Faith

The old man sat on the bench,
chin to his chest, as birds throughout
the park sang paeans to new life
after the near-death of winter. Yet all
he heard were his own thoughts. Some murmurs,
some plain-spoken facts, but none the shouts
that accompanied his life as he roared
from childhood to old age.
His memory had leaked away the words
to his hymns in praise of life.
Even their echoes within his earthly temple
had been quieted by his body’s
decrepit decline. He’d lost his faith,
the blind confidence that, even in the face
of the worst, something good would happen,
or he’d will himself to make it so.

It mattered not if it was an act
of some deity, the last-second shift
in the winds of pure luck, or his own pluck.
Yet here he sat, in the deepest winter
of his life, a pile of sagging humanity
held up by one last tenacious memory.
He rose on unsteady legs and whistled
a breezy alleluia the birds understood
and began walking, always keeping the winds
to his back. Something said they’d
carry him the rest of his journey.
Maybe one last shout of faith.

On Day 24 of NaPoWriMo, a poem of one man’s faith, not necessarily in some deity or luck, but in his own ability to move mountains. Or maybe just find a way around them to the other side.

Last Kisses

A soldier kissing his girl goodbye at Pennsylvania Station photographed by Alfred Eisenstadt,1944

Oh, sure, it was ardent, urgent, but
lacked the passion of those before, like
a period differs from an exclamation mark.
It lasted long, but it was the firmness,
the desperate I’m-not-letting-go
of its embrace that he remembered most.

It wasn’t the deep dive into
that warm pool of inviting flesh
in their other kisses, but it’d have to do
because this was their last kiss before
not seeing one another for a long time.
It felt as if she was kissing him
on his deathbed.

And on the other side, a boy kissed
his love that one last time, as well,
and surprised himself with the stiffness
of their lips against each other,
pressed hard together, like one would
in glue two things one to another.

Warmer, more expressive, were the tears
trickling down and mingling on all
their cheeks. Lips can lie.
Lips can speak in languages unknown
or misunderstood. “Auf wiedersehen,
meine Liebe” would be lost on the
girl who heard “Goodbye, my love.”

But tears speak the same language.
They express love, fear, warm hope,
even bitter finality on the lips that
could never profess that in words alone.
Even in a last kiss.

On Day 23 of NaPoWriMo 2017, a poem that has the title “Last (Something).” In my bleary-eyed wake-up half-hour on this Sunday, this story of two soldiers, each on opposing sides, speaking different languages though feeling the same emotions, came quickly to my mind and notebook. I love when that happens. I hate that its theme and truth ever have to happen.

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.)