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.

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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.

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.)

The Answer in a Flash of Morning Sun

I think I’ve passed right over the acme
of my life’s arc, through its payoff middle
and missed it. No Ansel Adams grand vista,
no temporal sweet spot in a man’s life
where he can stand and say to himself,
“Good job, you made it.” I no doubt was head-down
in a reverie about a what, a when, or worse,
a who.

I just looked up and out my window I see
jet contrails crisscrossing the dawn sky,
snaring the sun in a web of crystal near-nothing.
A robin’s sitting in the budding red maple
out front singing his love song. And between them
lies a vast expanse of nothing but . . .middle.
A vermillion-breasted sign of new life and
a silver nib etching across the sky the stories
of hundreds of souls, joined in this moment by
whatever I choose to link them.

More than some arbitrary marker signifying
the end of the Beginning or the beginning of the End,
I forgot the Now I’m in and how I choose to fill it.
Like that moment two disparate birds wrote
the story of my life in a flash of morning sun.

On Day 15 of NaPoWriMo, the middle of the month, I present this rather long discovery of where I am in my life. And, at this moment, the view is pretty good. Photo from out my window, by yours truly.

Turf War

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Slow Crow #1, © Joseph Hesch 2016

With the measured arrogance
of a tinpot dictator,
the obsidian autocrat
struts across my lawn
as if it’s his.
He drives his saber-sharp beak
into the near-frozen turf and
shakes it free with millennia
of hard-wired insouciance.
Whatever tidbit he’s plucked
from my front lawn will have to do,
since he’s cleared the larder
that once was my backyard.
With unhurried flaps and
scolding rasp he escapes
up into the maple after I rap
upon the front window.
Sneering with confidence
he proclaims I might hold
the deed to this property,
but it’s, without question,
his turf.

I shot that photo of a crow aerating my lawn this morning in his self-proclaimed primacy over his tenant farmer — me. This poem I wrote in the ten minutes before lights-out for the night, while I stewed over how right he was.

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.

The Feather ~ A Study in Contrasts

Feather, A Study in Contrasts © Joseph A. Hesch 2016

Feather II, A Study in Contrasts
© Joseph A. Hesch  2016

The blacktop was running a fever I
felt through my shoes, infected by
tossed cigarette butts, wads of gum
and mouthfuls of disrespect hawked
into its face. I feel your pain,
I thought, adding my hundred-eighty pounds
of self-effacing injury to those insults.
It was then I spotted a feather of gray
and white left by another head-in-the-clouds
drifter in these hinterland parking lots.
Once it soared to dreamy heights over
ocean waters, the agent of ascension for
some living cross silhouetted against the sky.
Now it lies in this parking lot, lost to
the heavens, ground-bound in its new
home with castoffs and garbage bins,
flitting among SUVs and shopping carts.

Yet still it held a dignity, an inherent
natural symmetry, a razor-sharp edge,
yet with a gossamer touch mitigating
the unyielding black to its back and
gracing with a soft balance its undeserving
surrounding bleakness. I bent to touch
this ethereal gift and its caress cured me
of my fever, the one acquired from my
low flights through this world’s
crassness and decay. Now it’s my source
of soaring visions, a quill expressing
the ink from my pen and my soul.

A rather longish poem (for me), based upon the photograph by this writer, offered as a prompt by my friend Sharyl Fuller and her weekly Writing Outside the Lines Challenge. It’s true. I did find this feather on the ground as I exited the SUV at a Home Depot this weekend. It inspired me then, so I took three photos of it and posted them online. Inspired “Annie,” too. Next, a redrafting of an old story of mine for a prose piece inspired by a feather like this.