My Heart’s Broken

They say even a broken clock can tell
the correct time twice each and ev’ry day.
But those frozen arms cannot ring one bell
and those works inside no tick nor tock say.

Within my chest a timepiece you will find,
one that can echo your heart’s song in rhyme.
It so thumps and bumps in front or behind,
musicians use it in songs to keep time.

But it’s my other heart of which I speak,
one that pumped out feelings, heady and strong.
This heart once gushed ink, now not a leak,
like the clock, ‘cept its timing’s always wrong.

My heart’s broken, shoulders dust-covered,
but it has no arms to reach, hands to touch.
My heart’s empty, where once t’was a cupboard
so full of love I gave away too much.

A clock can be repaired, and so a heart beating,
but can the one that poems to your heart sent?
Perhaps…if I find you still are reading,
but wonder where your heartfelt poet went.

I have no good answer for that query,
I’ve long sought it from someone up above.
To fix my heart, the one made you teary,
I don’t need ink, just a drop of your love.

Inspired by my listening all weekend, on REPEAT, to the brilliant Amy Lee and Evanescence’s “My Heart Is Broken.” Yes, I’m that obsessive. But some of you already know that.

Suite: Voices of the Angels

It long ago came to the point
where I’m no fun anymore.
But it was I who made it hard.
I am no one’s, you are yours.
This does not mean I don’t love you,
I do. That’s for always.

I’ve always kept your secrets,
even after you revealed them.
Friday evening, Tuesday morning,
it doesn’t matter. Asking me,
say you’re now so free,
you’ve changed my life,
not necessarily making it right,
turning my pegs, tuning my heart
to something resembling
nothing but E’s, except for
that one string inside you left alone.
And so I’ll always B here,
for when you’re willing to listen.

You are what you are, so
don’t let the past remind us
of what we are not now.
It’s my heart that’s suffering,
it’s a-dying (help me, I’m suffering)
That’s what I have to lose.
What have you got to lose?
Are you still listening
to my lacy lilting lyrics?
Well then…losing love, lamenting,
I am sorry.

On this 51st anniversary of the opening of the Woodstock “Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” I was moved to see what I could find of my memories of Aug. 15-19, 1969 and its aftermath. This found poem came first, a lyrical collage of genius held together with homemade glue, with deepest apologies to Stephen Stills and Judy Collins. And you….

Total Recall

I remember once when
my memory worked, how you
looked on the day that we met.
Well, we actually didn’t meet
since you were busy with them
and I was idle with me.
But my eyes met you.
I recall you in black and white,
which I’m not sure if you wore
or that’s just how my old
memories conflate with newer ones.
Do you remember when we met,
or have the years smeared
that picture with the tears
I’ve caused you because
eventually we did? Perhaps
I didn’t make that big a dent
in your mind as you did in mine.
Or maybe you’ve lost that memory
because it was for the best.
If they’re there, I can’t find
all the pieces in the corners
of my mind, scattered by fears
that a perfect memory would be
too true for my imperfect fantasy.
But its all here in black and white.

There! I think this might be better. Do you remember when I would write one of these lickety-split over a ten-minute break? Well, maybe it was 15. I don’t remember such things so well anymore. But, like I said, there it is in black and white.

Love In the Time of Corona

So…what if this time it’s really the end?
The time to say adios, good-bye, adieu.
If it is, then what better time to send
one more poem, my friend, to say thank you?

Isn’t it strange how many questions I ask
when it wasn’t answers I really needed?
See? Now there’s two more I add to the task
of figuring you out. Never succeeded.

You whispered at me so many secrets,
then pushed me away when I’d lean too close.
Now, I’ve caught so many of your regrets,
and never knew why it was me you chose.

So here’s the end. Not too close, should I sneeze.
Never mind, we were always each other’s disease.

Sorry for the extra beat at the end. Sometimes such things don’t have a suitable explanation. They just have to be. Let’s just hope it’s like an extra heartbeat. Be well, stay vigilant, and know I’m always thinking of you as we each wait out whatever lies ahead. 

Always ~ Your Poet

I suppose I could try reaching out,
to inquire how you are.
I wonder about that too often,
more than from time to time.
But when I gather the courage
to extend my hand, I find my arms
grown shorter and my courage smaller
than they feel here in the dark.
But what if I could touch you?
Probably I’d feel your shoulder
twist away from this something
unexpected, unusual, unwanted.
So I send this soft bit of me with
unlimited reach, a near-anonymous
touch from my darkness to yours.
Hi, how are you? Thinking of you.
Always ~ Your Poet

Hamlet and Prufrock Walk into a Peach Orchard…

My life’s grasp seldom exceeded its reach.
Most often it brought back nothing but air.
If I’d grasped it, I’d have eaten that peach,
but I’d not get a taste unless I’d dare.

Those times I stretched beyond my fingers’ tips,
you would just laugh and skip away a pace.
And so your flavor never graced these lips,
even when you’d skip back to tease my face.

I know it’s for the best I always failed,
except for these times my words caught your ear.
Like Prufrock’s Love Song, they’ll never be hailed.
I just wonder if I’ve made myself clear.

I’d still eat that peach, I’ve never forgotten,
It’s just overripe. I’ve become rotten.

Ugh. Sorry. For two years, chronic crippling depression has rotted the creative core of this once-prolific and not-half-bad writer. Whatever gifts I had, today present as useless mush. If I don’t get squared away soon, I fear you’re destined for more shoe-bottom sludge like this…or nothing. If I were you, I’d opt for the latter. Still grinding away, though. For me. For now… ~ JH


I always felt I was the one
discovered you out there in the aether,
while you were still gigging
never very far from Boston,
since you had to get the kids
off to school in the morning.
Yep, I was the one who heard
your ringing instrument with
a vague accent from the South side
of mid-America. Nothing like
your native south of Quincy.

I downloaded all your freebies
and shared them with the ones
who counted and could appreciate
how you knew exactly what they felt,
as if they were the ones
scraping their chairs across
your kitchen floor, leaning in
while you’d try something new,
cut a demo, or poured
another cup of tea. Not coffee.

But I decided to let you go
after Nashville discovered you.
And I really got pissed when
Oprah told the world how she did.
What a silly, jealous man.
I guess I wanted to keep you to myself,
hidden like a whispered secret
beneath my headphones. Wonder if
I’d still move my fingers to the chords
of the old songs. If I could
even listen to them.

Shoot, what’s one more time?

This is a piece about singer-songwriter Lori McKenna, whose music I discovered online almost 20 years ago. When she was still, as I said, a regional artist. The music was  great. But it was her words! I didn’t realize it back then, but the title cut from her second album, Pieces of Me, turned out to be an anthem of sorts for my life – and, if you’re reading this, maybe yours:

I have been a poet all my life
With really not too much to say
So you can push me anywhere you like
But you can’t push me away

My life is written down on papers in my room
And yours is bottled up somewhere
So I’ll send you letters from half across the moon
And it will cross your mind but you won’t dare

They’re Only Words

I’ve scattered letters
all over this page,
for over an hour now,
then whitewashed them away.
It’s not that I can’t find
the words to write for only you.
I just cannot capture the right ones.

Isn’t that a silly thing
about those who sometimes
consider themselves poets?
We’re hardly ever quite satisfied
with the words we choose
to express what we’re feeling,
especially when what we’re feeling
means so much we try to be perfect.

Yet I could make up words
and place them in a certain context
and you’d still be able to blazoodle
what I’m trying to say to you.
We never did really blazdoodle
one another, though, did we?
Oh, I’m sure you thought you might,
as did I. But we were
just casting weird words at one another.
I as bait and you as defense.

Neither of us truly succeeded
in our aims, which is just fine,
since a me and a you might never
ultimately layplay with one another.
But we sure have had a hell of a time
trying, prying, lying, crying and
ohhhh… let’s say heartflying.
I hope I sometimes heartflied you.

Through a Ghost Rain

The “excuse-me” mist drops
like a ghost rain blurring
the windows. But,
there are no windows.
I stand here and let it
touch my face, soft and cold,
when instead I’d prefer
your touch, once soft and warm.
But that won’t be today.
It’s probably just my imagination
feeling something not really real.
Like there ever really was a you,
or there ever really has been a me.
Perhaps I’m just another
“excuse-me” drifting and bumping
my way through the tiny drops
of time. But, excuse me if
I still envision, blurrily through
misted eyes, a ghost us.

You’d Even Knock First

A guy can scour his life
to collect all the keys
so no one can slip into
his heart without asking.
But it seems one or two
will always escape
his protective diligence.
Maybe one fell from his pocket
that day as he walked out
of their heart.
Or perhaps someone purloined it
just to mess with his key count
when he thought he was safe
from anyone looking into
his unmentionables in there.
Or maybe (most likely probably),
he just slid it under their pillow
or at the bottom of a pile of
memories he left with them.
In that case he’s abetted
his own breaking and entering,
which is interesting
when you think almost anyone
can enter what’s already broken.
But only you would use the key.
Probably would even knock first.