Under the Frayed Edge of November

The sky grew darker, as if
someone was closing the box on today,
the clouds so gray and cold
you shiver just looking at them
from the window. But that’s how we live,
here on the cusp of December.
Winter’s not quite a month away,
says the calendar. But those of us
who have shaken off the chill,
as well as old November snows,
look at the sky and think the year’s
only as old as it feels.

Today it felt pretty old.

The howling wind blew the slate
cumulo-strato-numb-makers eastward.
And blue, that icy blue that leaves
a halo around the sun before
giving way to the blackness that
canonizes the moon, surrounded
the shreds of steel-wool clouds,
that inevitably cover the sky
like a ragged comforter that’s
put in the inky blanket chest
until next the box opens on a today
so warm.

Photo © 2014 Joseph Hesch

Overlooking the Obvious

I’m open to your suggestion,
I said to the sky.
And the wind replied with a sigh,
giving me the cold shoulder
and a shivering, withering brush-off.
I’m willing to look at things
in a new light, I told low winter sun.
She blinked behind a wisp,
a sky-borne snow scarf,
ducked behind a gray curtain,
making shadow puppets
of the passing clouds.
C’mon, Nature, fill me
with inspiration,
I whispered to the cardinals,
these pennants adorning
skeleton maples.
An empty mitten oak leaf
scurried across virgin snowpack
to its slushy demise.
And Nature said, “I just did.”

Satan’s Supper

Corn crop

On the hundred-twentieth day of the drought — I know this because I kept X’ing them off on Mama’s 1892 Sears-Roebuck calendar — I watched big old storm clouds stack up against the distant mountains and heard my Pa say, “Shit, we’re in fer it now.”

“Whatcha mean, Pa…don’t ya think those rain clouds are coming our way?” I said full of a wide-eyed ten-year-old’s belief in miracles.

Pa worked up some juice in his mouth and spit it into the dust that barely held up the dead-dry and stunted corn stalks stretching like pale corduroy toward an east Colorado sunset that turned those hope-filled clouds a right royal purple.

“Son,” Pa said, kneeling down and taking me by the shoulders, “Theys that tell ya ‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire,’ never seen clouds like those, what’ll not bring us rain, but prob’ly Satan’s own hunger.”

I thought better of asking Pa what he meant again, but found out that night when those heaven-sent clouds of mine passed over our place, dropping not rain but lightning on our fields, burning my innocence as black as that quarter of our crop ol’ Satan ate for supper.

This week’s Five Sentence Fiction is based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word: Rain.

A Rumor of Spring

This last March night, I stand
beneath a black ceiling of clouds
as they break and flow
across the sky, allowing a peek
at the moon and she upon me.
They’re heavenly echoes
of the river ice, once a mass
of winter rigidity, now cracking
and whispering downstream
certain secrets kept for too long.

New whispers, a quietly
cacophonous accompaniment,
inform my reverie. They approach
on the south wind, as new cloud-cracks
reveal the silhouetted band
marching northward across the sky.
I shiver, not so much
from the cold, but because
this flapping pennant affirms
the river’s rumor of spring.

New 100-word drabble shared with dVerse gang, who are looking for poems of animals as portents of good or bad news. To me, there’s little better than the news that after this long rough Winter, Spring–real, warm, green-up Spring–is near.

The Tracks I Leave

contrails

contrails (Photo credit: Hope For Gorilla)

Their airborne travels are marked
by the cloudy tracks they leave.
Though birds travel the same roads,
they leave barely an echo behind
for us to ponder their paths.
Yet we remember those songs
like scars upon our skin.
And ponder I do, these cool mornings,
when the sky travelers’ prints course
across that field of blue.

I see the east, west, or southerly routes
they took before the sun finished
its own hidden path to morning,
when we can see all. For now.
But the winds aloft and day’s progress
disperse the records of their passing,
just as this old man’s memory
will lose these tracks I here leave,
ethereal poems of here to there.

Please keep them safe for me.

The Last Hunt ~ A Story

Dogfight

Dogfight (Photo credit: Lens Envy)

A Five Sentence Fiction

That red aeroplane with a yellow nose and tail whips past Cecil Lewis and I take chase as it twists and dives, heading into the clouds, and I know he can’t shake me. 

I recognize the flash of the setting sun on the pilot’s goggles when he glances fearfully over his shoulder at me, as I fire burst after burst into his scout, watching him drop below me and knowing he’s done. 

The craziness and blood lust that overtakes me at such times ebbs away and I break through the clouds, seeing from my altimeter that we’ve dove to only 200 feet. 

But why are the clouds in the wrong place, still below my wings?

The whirling disk in front of me fades away and I see the top of my propeller blade, vertical like that stalactite church steeple hanging down in front of me, and then…that great noise.

Here’s a Five Sentence Fiction using Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word BLADES. It’s a reworked piece of an old short story I wrote, titled Albert Ball Flies Home.

West Wind at My Back

Gray on gray

(Photo by Joseph Hesch)

Wind shushes the wrens’ chatter with
a whoosh and branches’ clatter.
The breeze aloft paints clouds
left-to-right across day’s white
canvas sky in swift strokes of gray.

That’s the same direction
these words run, whispering
their questions, wondering at
mysteries this windy hand of man
doesn’t understand from arm’s-length.

The ah-ha hazy answers I leave for those
discerning, far-away cloud readers,
once I exhale onto this white page
these black marks, which, from afar,
look gray, neither-and-nor.

Like those clouds, these sentence strands
scud east always toward open space,
resolute in searching for discoveries,
all the while realizing that dawn’s
only someone else’s yesterday.

With special thanks for the creative exhilaration and happiness rays shipped east by my friend Catherine Mitchell Dudley.

Shared with the gang at dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night.

Skycasting

Toenail Clipping

Toenail Clipping (Photo credit: MightyBoyBrian)

This early morning’s fish hook moon,
streaming those glowing pink clouds,
looked like it was a trout fly cast
by some grand ethereal angler
to catch the sun-kissed silver-
bellied US Airways flight out of
Albany International Airport.

I’ve snagged orange-dappled, Florida-bound
Southwest 737 bass in that pond.
And once I baited my barbed shank
with a little dull gray commuter minnow
to catch a trophy Air Canada muskie
from Toronto to London, where I was
angling for a publisher.

Which brings me back to those
salmon-pink hackles and that
excuse-me sliver of moon trolling
the peachy southern sky this morning.
The USAir flight was one that got away
from that airborne bait. But, son of a gun,
if it didn’t hook me something fierce.

Broken Spell

Morning Smokestack

Morning Smokestack (Photo credit: Mr. Ducke)

Looking like a broken spell
emanating from the long brick finger
of the heating plant’s stack,
a rosy steam plume glowed and
scattered with the wind
into a memory of palest pink.
Even busted so, it entranced me enough
to stare for a few seconds,
though continued magic became diluted
by the sun’s climb to beatify
with halos the Albany rooftops.

It’s only a winter wizard can cast
these natural phantasms,
the sun situated just so
and the brutal January cold
setting deep the peach gelatine bed
of late dawn’s horizon.
With a gentle cough the silver-hair
makes his climb to gray-on-grayer
shadow world of warm cubicles
whose light conjures as much
benevolent sorcery as a paper cut.

No Turning Back

misty day on my windshield

misty day on my windshield (Photo credit: jypsygen)

The rain sprays spitballs against
the windshield, annoying in their haze
and every-three-seconds shrill erasure.
Inside the glass, another sleep-short night
rains a torrent on my focus of cars
blinking their red eyes awake.
But sharp plays my vision of light
blooming in our room, revealing
a landscape of bed linen knee-hills,
coverlet valleys tossed in tenderness,
and a population of two become one.

Turning back isn’t an option anymore.
I’ve come too far and to look behind
invites chain-reaction misery.
The screech of tires and wipers on nothing but
dry reality awakens me to consciousness
of my roadbed partners, no doubt lost
in the sublimity of their own dreamscapes.
I pull to the shoulder, still shrouded
in the mist of my dawn memory,
close my eyes for a better view and,
for a minute, complete my journey there.

©Joseph Hesch 2012