Battle for the Heart and Mind

I armed myself with a bottle of water,
eyeglasses, computer, and absolutely
no advance intel. This is no way
to face so cunning an enemy.
A few years ago, I’d attack these sessions
like a free-writing commando.
Sure I parachuted into the dark,
but I knew my target, its flat white topography
and the objective: break another prisoner
free from the prison of my heart.
I’d toss some metaphors into that
hardened space (like I just did),
set off a smoke grenade to hide
my true position and maybe bring a tear
to anybody who thought to watch,
and make the snatch and run.
I almost always extracted a prisoner,
though sometimes they had nothing to say
when I got them to my lines.
But somewhere along the way, I lost
my sangfroid in a story over New Mexico,
or maybe it was that poem about
how she made me a prisoner in the darkness
of our own making.
Some days I fear I no longer have
the thirst for battle, finding the pen
too heavy for the old parry and thrust.
But I can’t let those prisoners rot in there.
So I guess I’ll jump again tomorrow.

Day #9 of April 2018 PAD Challenge called for a “Battle (something)” poem. 

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Naughts and Crosses

He thinks of her from time to time.
Often during the nights, but
other times during quiet days
when dreams have greater access
to the doors both closed long ago.
Always, though, when he’s alone.
A certain loneliness was about all
they had in common. That and
the darkness which never strayed
too far from their shadows,
so close that it often impersonated
their silhouettes, perfectly
outlining them in basic black.
His knots and crosses could never
hold her, when it was flowers
captured her heart.
But seamen know naught of blossoms
and blossoms know less of the sea.

I’ve been away from home for some days, away from my creative function for longer than that. Here’s a mid-afternoon drabble I dribbled onto the keys on this day after I’ve returned to the cold and dark I know better than the warm and sunny. Would that it was the opposite, eh?

Perhaps Among the Ashes a Spark Remains

As my days grow shorter,
this heart grows darker.
And as I look within
more and more, I see
the ashes of fires I made
with the torches I carried.
In what light still filters inside,
I see I’m surrounded by piles
of charcoal, charred remnants
of kindling I stacked and,
with warm words, teased
to flickering life
the gossamer tinder of whoever
I thought we were.

Some died from lack of heat,
others I failed to tend to enough,
and that one over there
you stomped out and kicked aside.
I wander this mausoleum of misses,
and gaze at the spaces
where heartwarming fires
turned to cold-hearted pyres.
Perhaps I’m just trying to find
a memory as I sigh among the ashes.
Or maybe I’m looking
for a spark or glow I might
breathe once more to life
and rekindle a lost friendship
before my own fire goes out.

Like the Moth to the Flame, So the Flame to the Moth

There have been times
he would sit in wide wonder
at her passion, and almost envy
how it fueled her life
in gentle warmth and blinding flame.
She occasionally pondered
the sensitive spirit
behind his gritty facade.
She’d see it draw people
to his side, if only for a moment,
and then they’d walk away, maybe
wearing some thoughtful look.
He would approach her warmth, drawn
like a doomed moth to the gentle flicker.
Her fire would always flare
and chase him away, singed and sorry.
She once dreamed of how
it’d be to share with him his gift
of personal touch without touching.
That’s when she learned,
though, he do to her what
he always did when someone
got too close — push them away
and then brood in his unworthiness.
For a shining instant, once,
they thought they’d be perfect together,
but each realized they were
more perfect apart.

Rolled out of bed and found this soon staring at me from the virtual page. Your guess is as good as mine, dear reader.

Holiday Blues

The shadows of the trees
defy gravity as they glide
up the hill on snow and moonlight.
The full moon hangs there like
a silver plate in their branches,
bigger and brighter than
any ornament on the Christmas tree.
Its beams a soft blue glow
over the icy landscape,
the shadows inky scratches
that will record upon this new page
the first month of another year.
And I sit here, as unilluminated
as a man can be when the gloom’s
consumed him even as he’s
absorbed the gloom.
Downstairs, I hear the children,
voices bright as lustrous trumpets.
Upon their timeless reveille,
a spark floats up to this room,
by this window, into this heart,
where before all was darkness,
save for the blue on the snow
and the shadows reaching out
for me once more. But not tonight.
Tonight, their light’s found me
and they’ve saved me once more.

Photo © 2014 Joseph Hesch

Beyond My Reach

My life’s temple is collapsing,
the figurative version of it
shattered by forces both
within and without,
the actual one sick and weak
and ready to fail.
Life was so much easier,
when I kept it boarded up
like an old house,
its clapboards stripped,
gray, cracked and whistling
as the cold winds blew through.
Back then, you would walk past
and not notice it except
for the birds occasionally
bursting from the attic.
And now the birds are gone,
scattered like leaves in the wake
of the semi truck that just
ran me over, blowing past,
pulling at my chest,
tearing my eyes, these windows
of my decrepit soul that
she opened when first I held her.
And now is beyond my reach.

Maybe I’ll cry tomorrow. But for now, I’m just empty.

Awake in a Flash

It wasn’t lightning nor thunder
that woke me last night.
though I’m certain it was
a flash of something bright.
And I think that’s what
made me sit bolt upright.

So I asked myself
“Could this all be a dream?”
‘Cause at night some things
may not be what they seem,
like seeing the face of an old lover
in the gleam of a high beam.

As I looked ‘round the room
thinking, “Well, now I’m awake,”
that same ache in my chest
started my hands to shake.
Yeah, this latest high beam gleam,
courtesy of that same old heartbreak.