Sparking the Tinder of Unfulfilled Dreams

I once held almost religious
reverence for the enchantment of dawn.
How some metaphysical Firestarter
struck together his celestial
flint and steel out of sight
over the horizon. From that,
some great spark flew into
the dried ball of yesterday’s
unfulfilled dreams, setting them
aglow in smoky possibility,
shrouding the mystery of can I,
should I, why and why not.
I’d awaken to this magic
and breathe into the east,
to give flaming life to
the tinder of my today, this
communion of maybe with the
the solid kindling of certainty.
Now, dawn’s become the crawl
of horizon and me beneath Sun’s
unrelenting glare, wide-eyed,
unblinking and judgmental,
unlike serene Moon’s monthlong wink.
Staring at the birth of this morning’s
slow burn, I realized my dreams
will always be nothing more than
the fluff of Firestarter’s tinder
and dawn is another signal of
what’s left going up in smoke.

Searching for Comfort in The Devil’s Workshop

One dark day, you’ll discover
the forehead fits perfectly
into the palm of one’s hand,
as if the Master behind the skin
and bone designed it for just
that purpose. That Master will come
searching for solace and sanctuary
when it no longer can find any within.
But, it may find nothing there
but idle thoughts, calloused responses,
and more deep depressions.
Perhaps it will detect a tremor
or numbness in the caress of its servant
so long ignored and abused.
I suppose one really should expect,
after all the brooding over its
servant’s imperfect interpretations
of one’s heady imaginings, to find in those
final downturned and overcast days
the stony slag in a Devil’s Workshop
of your own forging?

Free write blather, inspired by my pressing of my uninspired head into my dry and arthritic hands. The perfectionist gets his perfect comeuppance.

What the Winds Leave Behind

I struggle to remember
so many things that
I know I never will.
They’ve blown away
from my grasp in winds
I once bulled my way
through and now bully me.

I can recall many
random things of puzzling
importance, like the blur
of a certain perfume and
a swatch of freckles,
but not face nor name,
a cold confusion where
a sense of warmth
against my skin
once inscribed itself.

But that’s how
the winds of time
mistreat you.
They’ll stagger your steps,
scrub the carvings
from your monumental
and leave you shivering,
cold and bewildered,
these dwindling nights.

Echoing Days on the Muhheahkunnuk

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The Cohoes Falls, frozen in winter.

As I count down these,
my dwindling days out here
in the country for old men,
I feel my life closing in
even though here the sky’s
so much wider and higher
than it was over the city.
Even with steely buildings
shouldering me on their
right-angle ways toward
this corner and that,
I always managed to escape
thoughts of fewer tomorrows
to the here and now
of the river the ancients
called Muhheahkunnuk.

We’d wander from the anchorage
at Beverwyck to the falls
of Cahohatatea, in concert,
rippling like an echo south,
then north then south again.
I forgot it’s tune here and now,
where the trees shoulder me
toward another sundown,
whispering and cracking
like these old bones. Can I
head back upstream to my life’s
chiming Cahohatatea, perhaps
to drift on new echoes of this
old journey? The we can back up
to push off again tomorrow.

Cahohatatea is the name for the waterfalls where the Mohawk River drops into the Muhheahkunnuk, the Mahican name for the Hudson. Since I retired, sometimes I think the thing I miss most about working in Albany–Beverwyck to its Dutch inhabitants–are my noontime walks along that historic “river that runs in two directions,” its waters pushed back upstream by the tidal flow from its mouth at Manhattan.

Seduction and the Siesta

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The afternoon lies so quiet you can
hear the air breathe from the heating vents
to the ceiling, where it swirls and drops
like a lover’s whisper on your pillow.
You never enjoyed naps, such siestas
seeming to embezzle from you, skimming their
time-is-money cut from something your sure
you should be doing…if you could only
stay awake in your recliner.

You’d arise from those afternoon suspensions
of consciousness and verticality feeling
worse than when you reclined.
But that was before you turned 60.
Wasn’t it?

Now you crawl into these twisted trysts
with the post-meridian Delilah
who stole your once Samson-like strength
(and hair). You fight her Morphean
ministrations until she strokes your brow,
untying the knots in your expanding forehead.
She draws you into her somnolent embrace
with sultry promises, warm upon your face
like the dreamy promises of that expectant lover.
And you fall for her once again.

It’s Too Late

carolekingcat

It’s not hard for me to imagine,
when imagining’s all I’d do,
what it’s like to be here with myself
instead of back there, when I still had black hair,
deep in my thoughts of you.

My head always crowded with couldas,
my shoulda-filled heart brimming with dreams.
And in between, each make-believe scene,
reality’s not what it seems.

I remember Tapestry’d drone,
in corridors of the girl’s dormitory,
where from every other room, down that hall full of gloom
you’d hear the soundtrack to every second girl’s
stormy story.

Half of them wept in recall
of some boy from the opposite hall,
who left them with heartbroken spirit.
The other half would cry over some fantasy guy,
play Will You Love Me Tomorrow, hoping he’d hear it.

I said to myself,
when I jumped off the shelf,
of a childhood spent safely worrying,
“Don’t live like this, in the staticky hiss
of getting nowhere, yet ever hurrying.”

But the days they flew by
and young me became old I,
in a life ruled by lone circumspection.
I sat here with a pen, too often thinking of then,
a captive of my own retrospection.

Now I try to ignore the what-ifs and maybes,
won’t whine like those coeds, old men and babies.
Unlike the natural women who built Carole’s myth,
I spin Stephen Stills, no more therapy and pills,
ignoring past and future to love the one I’m with.

More nonsense rhyming verse, this time about putting aside getting bogged down in the past and future for living in the present. I used the universal common denominator of love as the tent pole metaphor and memories of my college days to peg it down. Have to admit you’d probably need to be of a certain age to truly “get” this one, but I wrote it from where I am, with a nod to where I’ve been. 

Another First December Snow

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The first December snow
came upon us overnight,
laying its frozen breath
upon the grass, turning
car roofs into smooth igloos warmed
by internal combustion engines.
I decided to let it rest
upon the driveway, delaying rising
from my chair to remove it.
Neither of us were in any hurry
to move, let alone remove.
Sometimes it feels like
I’ve reached the first week
of my life’s December, the sun
not rising as high as it once did,
its days shorter, nights longer
and my body colder in the lee
of these long shadows cast
o’er top of me. They conceal
the imprinted memories of what
lies behind me, this anti-snow
broadening its lightless view
of a trail ahead without footprints
to leave or follow, only a hope
that somewhere beyond is yet
another first spring rain –another
chance to splash in its puddles
like a child once more.

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2016. It’s by the author from his writing aerie above the back forty, where he contemplates his past, present and future in all-day twilight today.