You Never Know

He said, she said.

He said, she said. (Photo credit: Henry McLin)

She would always say, “You never know,”
to his come-ons, which is girl code for
“Not in this lifetime, pal, but thanks for playing.
Feel free to use your handy home version of our game.”
It’s a nice bit of camouflage and easily swallowed
obfuscation. Guys do it, too, when we answer
their questions about tomorrows and nows with
“Of course” and “Why would even have to ask?”

Philosophers, psychologists and talk show hosts
have parsed the source of such gauzy observations.
She needs to be tapped into her own and everybody’s
feelings, feelings of need and being needed
by everyone and a Right One. He competes
for whichever That One is there, keeping an eye
on the scoreboards, just to maintain
his guyness ranking among rivals of flesh and straw.

Someday, some reach an age where we realize
feelings can sometimes hide ugliness,
like newly fallen snow on a junk pile,
and rankings are stews of data du jour.
We junkyard philosophers poll ourselves and decide
to leave all that hazy rhetoric to foggy poets like me
and to those who insist on hiding lonely truth
from themselves. All by themselves.

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Poker Face

Dealer

Dealer (Photo credit: ΞD)

It was like I antied up as soon as
I entered the room. The cards,
my face-up hand, before me.
“What?” she said, and peered over her glasses
in that interrogatory way of hers.
It speaks louder than the bright lights
and rubber hose quality in her voice.
“What do you mean, ‘What’?” I said.
“I don’t know, something’s going on.
You look like you’re thinking,” she said.
Even though nothing was,
I immediately tossed in my hand.

Busted said my discard mush.
“Well, of course I’m thinking,” I stammered.
“I’d be going around bumping into things
like one of those little toy clown cars if I didn’t.”
She hmmphed her …aannnd? hmmph.
“Now you’re making fun of me.
You know what I mean,
something’s going on,
I can tell.”

This is why I never play poker.
My face, a fumble-fingered fish
in a casino of card sharks,
always expresses whatever I am feeling,
what I might possibly be thinking.
No matter how hard I try to control
these tics and twitches.
“Oh, nothing’s going on,” I said,
“Uh huh,” she said, unconvinced.
And then she smiled her selachimorphic smile
and dealt me another hand,
just to make sure.

Midnight at Noon

Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: pennstatelive)

I remember colors, mostly. Each time the same.
Blacksmith’s bellows roaring in my chest,
running wide-eyed yet blind. Green…whoosh…
white…crash…red…pain… black…nothing.
An Italian flag exhibition
in the darkness I would later require,
like a need to breathe shadows.
Staring on my back into the afternoon sun,
all was black, until came the star
brightly dancing in my night,
searching for me, echoing … calls of
dark’s triumph over the light.

“Here _ am,” I screamed with tongue stilled
in the absence of I. My quarry rose,
crawled atop my vacant warrior body.
I remember his angel face inquiring, inspecting
from deeply burned holes, helmet askew.
I recall thinking, “Good, looka tha’
snot bubble blowing from his top nostril.” Top?
My world tilting and righting, tilting
and righting. Hammer pounding behind my eyes,
I saw the looks of the other hunters.
I had made my kill and, as had they, gladly
left some memory of it where I fell.

No memorial stands today to that tiny death,
no stone, no scars you can see. It was
just another bit of mind I paid for a thrill ride
I barely feel yet still pains me today
when I can’t recall names, faces and sometimes me.
My body is here, crackling as it limps the stairs
from each morning’s darkness, fingers always numb
on the bannisters, tingling but not with
the excitement of all the times I rearranged
the top floor furniture in the green, white, red flashes
and the blackness that overtakes me still
like midnight at noon.

©Joseph Hesch 2012

Self-Portraits

By Joseph Hesch

Every day, the poet squeezes
the contents of his heart
over the expression he wears,
and this he imprints
onto the ruled pages
of that notebook or
this window —
his versions of
St. Veronica’s veil.
Then he walks away,
continuing his life’s journey,
leaving behind the image
for you to assess.
It’s not his anymore.
Sometimes it may be hideous,
sometimes almost holy,
but always, it’s his
truth.

© 2012 Joseph Hesch

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.

Cold Truth

Last night the snow laid its ghostly hands
upon all the horizontals outside.
Some of the verticals and in-betweens
felt its curative touch, too.
Fresh-fallen, softly whitening the dark,
smoothing the points and edges,
beautifying the uglies too conspicuous
before the fall after Fall.
But, come windy morning, that which was covered,
and those sojourners not long passed
have carved their marks on the once-immaculate.
And with dawn’s rising light they reveal
Winter’s cold truth.