The First to Fall
Joseph Hesch © 2016
I found the deceased
on my front lawn this morning.
Dropped by a seasonal drive-by,
the flashes and booms just
another night on the mean streets
of southern Saratoga County.
This killer swept by in a whoosh,
a swiftly moving hunter knocking off
the stationary target, instead of
the other way around. Which way’s
more sporting? Not that it matters.
Dead is dead is dead is dead.
That’s how it’ll be in coming months,
when the annual turf war grinds down
its green recruits, and decades-long
veterans of the air unpin
their golden decorations, with
oak leaf clusters.
Yep, found this fallen airman on my lawn this morning, just like I found Halloween decorations and the first 2016 collector Christmas tree decorations at the Hallmark store last night. Meanwhile, the summer storms continue their west-to-east drive-bys and I’m daily melting like a Creamsicle fallen upon a sizzling sidewalk.
The leaves started bleeding last night,
with no one there to watch.
This overnight metamorphosis
is as much a mystery as yesterday’s sun,
once so vigorous and sturdy
in that western sky, abruptly deciding
it was time for bed
before even I did.
The leaves started bleeding last night,
the red on the dawn side of those maples
waving a warning that the green time’s
running out, and I wasn’t there,
wasn’t able to stanch
this wound in Time.
That’s because I was bleeding last night,
dripping these red remaining hours
where once my green days ran
vigorous and sturdy toward the eastern sky.
When it was I who decided what time
it was to start my living,
even before Day did.
Months of muted tones
too long held sway
over this northern land.
Even once-bright snow
lies dingy like porridge
flecked in blacktop dust
and salt crust.
Against slate skies,
crows croak their primacy
and even gray goose chooses
to fly beyond.
Sounding my forgotten clarion,
I decree audience.
See me, hot spot of rainbow
resplendent, perched atop
charcoal skeleton of ash.
I am your King of Spring,
and will daub all in hues
you’ve missed since last
Sun dropped its rays
I am Cardinal. Have faith.
April dawns and new life
like kaleidoscopic dreams
approach just over horizon.
New 100-word drabble poem shared with friends at dVerse looking to impart or share color.
Photo by Lonny Holman
Record High Temperature (Photo credit: NickWarzy)
All day, for six straight steaming sun-ups
and a half-dozen retina-searing sundowns,
the people who bemoaned their frigid snowy winter
wipe their wet cheeks over the heat this July week.
Their faces shine in the dawn light these mornings,
when 9s are hung in the wide-screen, surround-sound
public square and the talking hairdo town crier
warns of the approach of certain writhing death
for those who do not sufficiently hydrate.
My dog knows this.
I would hear the bump-whir of the air conditioning
kicking in again, but the hi-def Hark the Herald of doom
puts on her drama mask and serious tone megaphone
to relate how tempers sparked in street-length saunas
have claimed four lives overnight. Janus-like,
she flips her mien, and then her mane, smiles wide
and tells me we’re going to see how the penguins
at the Sea-quarium handle this heat wave.
But first these words…
The Joy of Spring [80/366] (Photo credit: timsackton)
Above the sweet songs of avian choirs
sound some fresh feathered come-on calls,
like rusty gate hasps squee-awking
from within the fresh-popped maples.
In the waves of Nature’s liberated libido
the birds pitch woo and the trees scatter
their dainty DNA in clouds of yellow.
Below, the field is dappled with herds
of robins and crows browsing through
the awakening grass for dormant grubs,
whose husks now litter the lawns
like tiny Chinese lanterns.
New life is en route, migrating home
from below Mother’s equatorial belt.
I stand amid the clamor, no longer content
to wait for my spring to come
and shake me from years of winter torpor,
unwrap me from these insulating layers
of isolation and inertia. I whistle
a tweedle or two of my own,
just to gain a little momentum,
a running start for my take-off.
My wings may sound like old rusty gates,
but at least I’m flapping them. Squee-awk.
Red Maple Tree Buds (Photo credit: photoholic1)
This early spring morning,
my eyes swell gritty and itchy
with the desiccated sweat of maples
withholding climax so fervently
their tiny fists clench tightly red
at the ends of their spindly wrists,
gripping the imaginary sheets of dew
upon which they in shifting breezes
I imagine their sightless eyes
envision skeletons of scarred saplings
in forest pyres or the nightmare
turn upon that hellish spit
lathe of Louisville Sluggers, lest
they rupture in winged vernal rapture
before that one last echo whimper
of wanton winter tomorrow
dregs (Photo credit: Caobhin)
Desultory dregs of last week’s
half-hearted snowbanks, now turned
overturned bowls of cinder and road salt,
dot the roadside field, while black top
in tablet form lines the shoulder
like black blossoms signifying
the threat of another season.
Robins alight on the dry grass,
picking at salt-pickled something,
blithely chirping like ladies at tea,
while in the maples and oaks,
woodpeckers, cardinals and finches
announce their primacy over all.
This is the end of my March,
a month named for a war-god,
a verb meaning to tread
with measured beat,
a noun about distance covered.
It was once a boundary; maybe still is.
We’ve somehow survived all its iterations,
just as the red bud tree and chickadee,
with similar design and intent.
We just do. We battle, hearts thumping,
managing the forward momentum
whether we want to or not.
We March and don’t know why.
Mockingbird (Photo credit: Billtacular)
I heard the tsk, tsk, tsk above me and wondered
if God had again joined the grand chorus
that finds me not quite whatever enough at…
Even I’ve begun humming their repertoire.
My eyes skittered up that wife-beater wearing
birch’s bare arms and spied mockingbird’s
long ruler-straight tail. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
“You too?” I said, hoping he had mockingbird
cover band rehearsal elsewhere this near-spring dawn.
A golden bullet flashed between us and
drew my eyes from birch top to pine bough,
where a little black-capped yella fella Finch
parked and sang. I didn’t recognize the tune,
but it sounded like he was tweeting for
We all have wants, I guess, something we think
will content us in this discontented world,
if even for that moment. Some gain joy by stealing it,
in a gush or drop by drop, from another.
Others merely crave a snack. I haven’t divined
my Capital W want yet. Is it possible
to want not being found wanting anymore?
If not, for now I’d like some of Goldie’s chips
and Blue Warbler’s beer-beer-beer.
At 5:30 this morning, outside my
snow-dusted front door, the eastern sky
resembled a sullen teen grudgingly crawling
out of bed the same time I did.
Instead of the circle of darkness
that’s surrounded me for months,
a baleful dove-gray face with a brow
of black-shadowed clouds opened its eye
above a quilt of motley-shingled rooflines.
Behind me, beside me, cardinals
perched in the dim after hours club
spotlight of dim dawn, trading
of harmony and dominance like
old bluesmen on an all-night bender.
And I wondered if I had reached
the ice-solid watershed of winter.
Had I survived the worst part of
another season of natural
and human melancholy? I whistled
my thick-tongued cardinal call
and a ready-for-anything red badass
responded with his own lick,
“Yeah, dude, du-du-dude.”
dancing leaves (Photo credit: jessamyn)
October’s brown leaves, nearly ghosts,
quick-step to the melody of the east wind
across the thin crust of February’s
Locked in hold, they skip as one–
bip bup bip–a dance of possible has-beens
reliving their maybe moment on Autumn’s stage.
Down they go, ass over petticoat and petiole,
tripped upon the jealous roots of
the one-time impresario of this oak-lined
dance hall behind the houses.
He never moved as the birds and leaves;
could ever only sway while the others
danced and sang all about him.
A shift in the whims of wind,
illness or age, and he could have
brought us all to ground first.
But we have Words to apply to that
music and can’t get caught in
the shade-casting of any bullies
who would take joy in adding
one more couple and their art
to the stacks of the fallen might-have-beens
they keep tucked and rotting souvenirs
in the outstretched lee of their once-was.