It Can Take Your Breath Away

What’s done is done
and your life has to go on
whether I’m there or not.

I knew this day would come
someday.
I just never expected
Someday
would happen yesterday.

But that’s Life
for you
and that’s Love
for you.

You’re never really
looking for it when
it sneaks up and
takes your breath away.

And you’re never
really looking for it when
that gut-punch goodbye comes
to take your breath away,
either

What’s done is done
and life must go on
whether you’re here or not.

And while that’s Life
for me,
I ‘ll always have Love
for you.

I guess you could call this an “anti-Valentine’s Day” poem. It came to me in pieces…like a broken heart. But, as Cicero said, “While there’s Life, there’s Hope.” God willing, Hope will come over the hill someday with a supply of Superglue.

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Like I’ve Seen a Ghost

Lately, her ghost’s been been floating back
into the edge of my consciousness again,
like the first robin showing up each February
as a flash of vermillion in the corner of my eye.
Then disappearing again.
It’s something I’ve come to expect on the downhill run
from the Winter Solstice to the Vernal Equinox.

But I know it’s just my imagination. It has to be.
She hasn’t spoken to me in years and I believe
I’ve even forgotten the sound of her voice.
Also, if she ever spoke to me, I’m sure
I wouldn’t want to hear how her she sounded
or what she said. It would chill my spine
like that February wind that cuts right through me.

Fear? Hell, yeah, it’s fear. It wasn’t supposed to end
this way, my Civic sitting there on those
twisting railroad tracks. It was inevitable, though,
once she pulled out of my station and turned that corner
to her new life. It really was for the best.
Obsession can kill you like some creature of darkness
that’ll reach out to grab you. Tear you apart.

But then, out of nowhere, there she was,
comin’ around that mountain like a reanimated Casey Jones.
I wasn’t looking for that ride anymore, though. I’d given up,
traded in my ticket for this keen parking place
atop the once-shiny, long twin silver lines of hope.
No, I didn’t hear it coming. I’d turned up my stereo
deafeningly loud again, after years of being unable
to listen to it.

The melodies sounded vaguely familiar, but I’d forgotten
so many of the lyrics. So, as always, I replayed them
over and over, again and again, until I knew every breath.
Obsession, right? Reliving and reliving each note
and every word and inflection and inhalation.
And then, there she was, coming on like a snow-blind
Lake Shore Limited out of Chicago.

So here I am today, hanging around in the same old spot,
not sure of the date or even if it’s day or night,
when that flicker of a memory, that flash of a face,
that barely perceptible sound of a voice slices through me
like I’m made of smoke, as if I’m some kind of wraith.
Maybe she’s not the ghost haunting me after all.

I am.

Free-write (which I used to do every Friday) because I really am like that ghost. Full of naught but hazy promises, empty dreams and nothing of substance. I’m a spirit that’s willing, but can offer no creative corporeality. Which is so weak.

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.

Memory of Snow, Rain and Fog

At his post by the window, he sees them at dawn,
the seasonal habitués who usually sojourn here
in March or so. Three sisters, the triad manifestations
of water have come calling early and he must greet them.

Before him lies one in the form of snow,
once solid and grounded, as was he back when.
On its face it holds the story of lives and deaths,
writ in foot prints and a splotch of red.
Crows have punctuated, in deep black holes,
the final chapters of some prey left by a coyote,
while squirrels dot chains of ellipses,
linking forgotten conversations from tree to tree.

The grand smudge above cries tears like April’s,
falling from the heavens’ gray cheeks,
which float always beyond the reach of empathetic oaks,
who sag in solicitous sadness under the weight
of the skies’ drops of yet unknown future tales.
The rains wash away some of snow’s chronicle
of one year’s death and another’s birth,
like history rewritten by some usurping un-worthy.

And, between heaven and earth, glides water’s
nebulous self, a chilling fog, translucent and clean.
It smears the known, rendering the familiar
not quite so accurate, like the passage of time
does an old man’s memory. It will leave his cheeks
shining and damp, as if his crying has ended,
though he knows it’s only abated. It crawls up
and nests in the trees, as would his younger self.

That he plainly sees, as he slops back to the house,
where it’s warm and dry and his family will tsk-tsk
him about walking in weather like this.
But he stares out the window, wondering how long
until what’s left of his sojourn will dissolve,
blown away in blizzards of white, lost in
foggy gray memories, and punctuated by a grand black
!”

Too long away from inspiration and creativity. As has often been the case, if not sleep, then weather provides impetus to get back into this hard-backed saddle. Photo © 2018, Joseph Hesch. You know, me.

The Cruelest Month

This poet says the shortest one’s
also the cruelest.
It surpasses December and January
for the coldest.
And probably unchallenged
in the monthly rankings as
the most-misspelled.
Like the word “misspelled.”
Some in the English-speaking world
never master including
that seemingly silent extra consonant.
I’m insufferable that way with my
deep pool of knowledge.
But I long ago learned
a most-valuable lesson in one of those
chilly little months.
During the short wolfish period
of my life, I did plot
to win the favors this cute girl.
She believed there were more than
those two worthy (and manly) holidays
in the second month of the year.
I forgot to recognize
THE most-important “holiday” in that month.
So, don’t be like Caesar and I,
forgetting The Ides of February,
or thereabouts. (Yes, I’m insufferably right.
You can look it up.)
By the Saints–or at least the one
whose name starts with “V”–
you’ll find she can make February
seem longer for you than merely by adding
that oft-forgotten “r.”
The cruelest month can grow colder,
and oh so crueller still.

This tortured bit of verse came about from my own tortured efforts to write ANYTHING, as I crawl my way back from my debilitating back issues and concomitant spasms of my emotional spine. So I took a list of words from an old short story prompt and tossed them against the virtual refrigerator door with some of my own. This first draft stuck. Here are the words: monthly, cute, shortest, wolfish, plot, master, world, valuable and December.

Finally Fallen

There are times I felt
like a leaf fallen from a tree,
blown away from Home,
that place from where
spring my roots.
I’d be chased by this breeze and that,
run in circles going nowhere,
tossed among other
untethered souls awaiting burial
or burning.
But I always hung on,
the sturdy one,
gutting out October,
never-minding November,
shaking off December
and its snows. Then
I’d slip the North Wind’s
noose and start over again.
But now has come the winter
I couldn’t escape,
when I fell without a breath,
captured and held in stasis
by this cold beyond Death,
awaiting some Spring when
I will be released and forgotten
among the other scraps
blown away from Home,
where my roots have lost their hold.
Perhaps the tree will fall
without me there to hold it up.

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2018.

Life Through Brown Eyes

I looked into her brown eyes
today, and recalled a time
when guile gained no traction there.
Nor in her heart.
I recalled studying
another pair of eyes
just like hers once.
Soft brown and hopeful.
They looked out at life
with such high expectations
and unspoken exclamations
of “Gee whiz” & “Oh boy!” too.
Now I look into her eyes
and see life’s hard lessons
have punched her in the face.
Just like they did to me.
That’s when I spied her
peering into my eyes.
She wore a knowing expression
I couldn’t quite place
until I passed that mirror.