Love Like a River

Photo by Joseph Hesch © 2014

I can feel the breath on my face,
in waves as cool and metrical
as the current slaps the shore
in its Spring sprint to the sea;
or as warm and moist as a lover’s
sleeping against me on a summer night,
languid, as if waiting for me
to crack her still surface
as if it was ice, to entice those
ripples of movement that would

echo

echo

echo

until coming to shimmering rest
like a sigh on the shoreline.
How many times have I wished
to float with her, letting her guide me
to her mouth, ignoring others’ views
of her boundaries conquerable only by
the arch artifices of arrogant men?
They’ve never appreciated her music
as I have, never watched how she reflects
whoever gazes upon her, be it the
drifting clouds above waving like flags
on her breeze-rippled skin, or my face,
still as a statue’s, as I seek answers
to questions I’ve never been able to ask.
It’s then I realize she’s done that
all along in her constancy, her depth,
her shallowness, her ever-open blue eyes
I’d fall into right now if not for the fact
they’ve absorbed me, absolved me first.

For Day 29 of my NaPoWriMo poem-a-day challenge, I was to take one of my favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it, then free-write associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then I was to use that original word and the results of the free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem. The original poem I chose was perhaps my favorite, William Stafford’s “Ask Me.” For what it’s worth, this process is one I use all the time in writing new poems and stories.

Whole Worlds Inside This Tiny Old Box

On its outside, it’s not much to look at, just
a wooden box, six slabs of worn, tan-painted plywood
held together by nails and a couple extra screws
I drove into it so it wouldn’t fall apart last winter.
Inside is even less impressive: just bare wood
bearing the stains of rain leaking within, as well as
the outline of the small ski slope that blows in
whenever the blizzards breach its ill-fitting door.
It all smells of damp domestic pinewood.
But inside that dark interior, new places visit me.
The bill for my car comes from Philly,
Bev’s anniversary card from Florida. The travel mag
teases me with views of Nova Scotia, a river cruise
on the Rhine and exploring the dusty red-gold
beauty of Arizona.
It’s an adventure each time I walk down
the driveway in my tiny suburban world
and reach into the vastly wider one stuffed
within its corners. I still get as excited as
the seven-year-old whose world didn’t extend
more than one block from our house on
Bradford Street in Albany. But inside, my
imagination still transports me as far as
these creaky old boxes perched on my lawn
and shoulders can take me today.

Day 25 of NaPoWriMo called for a poem descriptive of a small space. I chose inside my mailbox, which, while cramped, still transports me to places I’ll never set foot except in my imagination.

Pillow

In the hallway I heard him tell her
he didn’t like the pillows on their hotel bed.
“They’re all too hard. You know I like
one softer I can smush they way I want.”
I can understand how someone could be
so picky about their most intimate companion
with whom they share their bed.

Your pillow, will cradle your sleepy head,
catch your sobs and dry your tears
like a mother’s lap does for its child.
You can hug it as you would someone
you wish was there with you,
accepting and returning your warmth.

It can be the launchpad of dreams,
whether you’re asleep or awake,
soaring above you, maybe just out of reach,
or just floating there all night keeping
you awake like a dripping faucet.
It’s probably no coincidence I sleep
with two pillows. One for my head,
while I hold the other in my arms.
They console, accept and embrace me.

We’ve come to fit each other, though not
because I smushed them. Gently, like muses,
they’ve helped shape lofty thoughts,
often of you, that I might write tomorrow.
Or they support me while I push and lift
those thoughts almost all night long,
so you and I can wake next to them come morning.

For Day 21 of NaPoWriMo, A poem inspired by an overheard conversation and also with a one-word title about its subject.

A Clerihew? Who Knew?

David Bowie,
was dissatisfied with being born David Jones, so he
changed it for artistic purposes — no lunk, he.
Ziggy Stardust doesn’t happen if you keep your name like that Monkee.

John F. Kennedy
Wasn’t quite sure he had the remedy
To put the brakes on a ride to World War 3’s brink,
But Dr. Jack’s ballsy cure worked, because ’twas Khrushchev first to blink.

George Armstrong Custer
knew his troopers to victory he could muster
if it was he who always led the charge.
But his tactic never ran into an opponent four times as large.

King Richard, the Lionheart
left England, in a great Crusade to take part.
But while he was gone, his little brother, King John,
tripped over himself trying Richard’s too-big monarchy thing on.

Queen Marie Antoinette
abdicated her throne in the French Revolution, and yet
the mob wasn’t sated until they took her head
for insinuating starving people eat cake in lieu of bread.

Charles Dickens
knew his writing prospects would be slim pickin’s,
forcing each of his children to eat like a bird.
So, like Scrooge’s Christmas goose, his prose he often fluffed quite loose, since he got paid by the word.

Edmund Clerihew Bentley,
was a poet unafraid to invent, evidently,
a form combining biography and satire in rhyming verse.
At the first two I’m not bad, but the last I couldn’t be worse.

Joseph Andrew Hesch,
a writer turned to janky poet, I gesh,
When writers block brought his prose to an end,
an imaginary poet broke through, penning mushy verse to you, my make-believe friend.

Here’s a placeholder post until I can write something bigger for Day 14 of NaPoWrMo. In fact, these pieces, called clerihews, were prompted by NaPoWriMo.net A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The first line is the name of the poem’s subject, usually a famous person put in an absurd light, or revealing something unknown and/or spurious about them.

So Why’d I Ask?

So what if I could one day rein
thoughts I have crowding ’round my brain,
these images I see of You-Know-Who
to as few as let’s say one or two?
Do I really think my life’d be that much better
if I never wrote another cryptic letter
to a universal someone who’ll never end
being the adult version of my imaginary friend?
Question’s moot, dear Know-Who, since never was just one You.

On Day 9 of my NaPoWriMo poem-a-day quest, I combined prompts again. Robert Lee Brewer asked for a poem titled “So (something),” while NaPoWriMo.net suggested a nine-line poem. Nailed the former, but really folded, spindled and mutilated the rules of the latter. Meter and rhyme have never been my friends, imaginary or otherwise.

But NaPoWriMo’s supposed to be all in fun.
Even if all those muse You’s might really be one.

Venus, Galileo & The Center of the Universe

Weren’t you lucky to make
that great discovery,
tipping the axis of not only
your world, but every satellite
held in your gravitational thrall?
But that’s Lady Luck, be she
good, bad or just dumb.
She was impervious to your
celestial attraction, but you
were not to hers. I made such
a discovery, but not until
I passed through your orbit,
and that too close,
for too long.

Salving my burns on the way out,
I was lucky enough to look back
to find you weren’t the center
of my universe. You weren’t
even the center of yours.
But I can live with these scars,
I’ve found other stars around whom
I’ll glide but never alight.
Look all around, not only
down and within, and maybe
someday our paths will
align once again. No longer
cracked mirrors, but diamonds
shining our rainbow illuminations
for whatever short spins
we’ve got left.

Day 7 of Poem-a-Day NaPoWriMo, using a combined prompt for poems of discovery and fortuitousness.

Reminiscing the Tomorrows We Never Had

Each dawn, when I crack open my eyes
to verify I’ve received another chance,
I envision you in the empty space
beside me and close them again,
realizing I’ve blown it already.
A once-harmless fascination became
my obsession, fluttering moth-like
’round your incandescence that
threw too much heat for my heart
to dare grow nearer.
But when I realized your heat was
my actual desire, you’d gone cold,
your own obsessions directing it
so far from me I had to warm myself
with reveries of useless might-have-beens.
Now most mornings I fail another chance
to ignore these all-day reminiscences
of a future we never could have had,
obliviously resigning myself to the fact
my miserable life’s better
we never did.

Day One of April’s Poem-a-Day Challenge: A Reminiscing Poem. And what’s more silly, dreaming Hesch-like than reminiscing about something that never happened?