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 Hah-vahd Yahd.
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.
I still move my fingers to the chords
of the old songs when I listen
to them for hours on repeat.
But then, what’s one more time?
I decided to check in at Writer’s Digest’s Wednesday Poetry Prompt today. Especially since my mind’s currently incapable of finding inspiration on its own dime. The theme was a Composer poem, where I’d take a composer’s name, put it in the title and then let ‘er rip. I don’t know why, but I chose Lori McKenna, whose music I discovered online almost 20 years ago. You know, when she was still, as I said, gigging around Boston or so. The music was great. But her words!! I didn’t realize it back then, but the title cut from her second album, Pieces of Me, became an anthem of sorts for this past section of my life:
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
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.
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.
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.
I suppose I’ve got nothing more to lose.
That’s the consensus of all the voices I hear,
though none come from out there with you.
I’ve been scraping along for quite a while
with this rudderless, leaky vessel,
which probably is why it’s still so busted.
I just can’t stop trying to make it go,
when I know it wants to sink in a final dip
from where it will not rise. You didn’t wreck it,
nor did any other You.
And now it’s time, I’ve made my decision.
I’m pulling it from it’s upstream fight,
because I need to make that final stretch,
with you aboard or not.
It won’t hold the sinking out
and it can’t keep the love in.
Whether anyone admits it or not,
we’re not done yet. So now
the only thing left I can do with
old, adrift broken hearts…
is mend them.
I remember times I thought of calling,
but then stopped short after some reflection.
See, sometimes I get that feel of falling
and can’t help but think about our connection.
Soon, though, I realize my delusion,
which is a step in the right direction.
I’ve always struggled with love’s confusion,
which led to many kinds of rejection.
I sit down and put these thoughts in writing,
which you might think is half-assed projection.
But really it’s my way of inciting
a muse-less artistic resurrection.
So this is my way of self-protection:
poems of love with no real affection.
Just warming up for Valentine’s Day, y’all, with this sonnet that needs a lot of correction.