We All Fall Down

A gentle snow has fallen
since mid afternoon and
I have not watched the snowflakes,
not a one. Haven’t focused on one
and followed its path best I can
to join the millions that rest
on this patch of mine-ness.
They hold no attraction, no sparkle,
nor relevance today. And that’s not me.

But then, nothing gets me excited
these days. My mind is blank
as that new-fallen snow,
my spirit just as flat,
and I’m struggling so hard
just to get from sleep to wake
and then back to sleep,
in a lonely listless drift
with this hole in my hull.

I can’t seem to shake it because
I can’t quite understand it, and
I’ve no power to change it if I did,
save for a list of felonies
I’d need to commit. We should all
laugh at that line, but we never
can be sure if what we’re reading
is truth or the artful lie.
I lie pretty well, some say.

Maybe, if I get dressed and go outside,
I can lie again, this time on that
little patch of mine. I can look
straight up into the falling snow,
illuminated by the Christmas lights.
I’ll try watching my one flake drift
in its downward gyre, helpless,
to this frozen tongue, upon which
millions of words lie too,
in hope of an early spring.

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What Was Found Above the Lines Has Been Lost Between Them

Aerial photograph of a Bristol F2B fighter aircraft flying above the clouds.

Above the lines you can see the scars etched
into the beauty’s countenance, crisscrossing
ones old and new, some smeared with spoiled
face powder trying to cover the pocks
and failures of old men’s vanity.
But that’s only if you regard them with some
romantic aesthetic you lose all too quickly
as you are assailed by the scream of
the engine in your lap, its heat of no use
in the freezing air and wind in your face,
redolent of burnt petrol and cast-off castor oil.
You dare not wax so poetic that you stare
at billowing, sun-painted clouds as if
they were masterpieces like great Cathedrals,
or as the marble imaginings filling them,
wrought by some absent God’s immortal tools.
No, above the lines’ beauty and cleanliness
are mere primer for a blank canvas, one yet
to be spattered with the black and red blooms
of Archie shells, the yellow tracings of bullets
as they pierce your wings, fuselage, or someone’s son.
You chance a glimpse of the slanting or spiral
chiaroscuro of a funeral pyre in descent,
in a hurry to bury another boy in the box
within in which he tried to stay above all the mud
And blood below, only to be lost between the lines.

Inspired by a picture and conversation shared with my friend, the novelist Julia Robb. These days, I feel so much like one of those young men of the Lafayette Escadrille or the Royal Flying Corps in late 1916/early 1917. I see little beauty in what I’m doing here anymore and feel my time at this is growing as short as my next climb into the cockpit of this desk. 

Thank You Note

Sorry if you never heard me
thank you, but if I did,
I’d have nothing to thank you for.
You were the one who helped me
find the voice you hear
from this side of your door.
It’s why you see me limping along
these days, leaving a trail
with this inky crutch.
It’s supported my now silent self,
who discovered this gift when
I lost what once meant so much.
So I wrote this Thank You note,
to hang on the imaginary wall
in the virtual square.
I hope you hear my old voice
in it, as if from me here
to you there.
Thanks for helping me speak
to so many people, with nary
a shriek or bellow.
Rather poetic I found it  when you
said goodbye, since it was born
when you first said hello.

Sorry I’ve been gone so long. I’ve been dealing some angels and demons. Most of my own construction. This is a little right-out-of-bed writer’s block breaker that I hope will get me back in the saddle again for the long haul. Perhaps even with some joy.

Surge et Carpe Diem

The daylight times feel
so short now, and sleep
holds never more than
a handful of hours.
Life runs away like that
for the old man whose spirit
sees no age in him,
but whose body stabs him
to wakefulness along
the dark trail to morning.
It drops him without warning
into a drowsy torpor while
daylight, who knew him
so well, still calls
from the window
to come out and play.
He ponders where the
remaining shards of each day go,
as if they’re hiding in the pocket
of some thief of latter days.
He realizes no one stole
these missing heartbeats,
these warm knowing gazes,
these potential walks and talks,
these stories left untold.
He’s the one who lost them
to another sunset and he’s
the only one who can steal them
back from each new dawn,
if he’d let his ageless self
rise and seize this day.

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2017

Hooks, Lines and Lingers

What used to be scars
are now but traces.
And what traces came
before those,
Time has buried
upon my face.
The marks delineate,
limn and illustrate
where compulsions,
like hooks in my flesh,
drew me to you.
I knew better, but I
couldn’t choose to ignore,
to turn, to run away.
Distance, of years
and circumstance,
dissolved any cords
connecting me to you.
Some hooks linger,
embedded in those lines,
reminders of how easily
I can be caught.
They’re affixed to feelings
I can’t explain, so
I share them here.
They’re no doubt obsessions,
but some call them poems.

The Beard

I found it while culling old photos
that no one need keep — nor even see —
once I’m gone. It shows dark-haired me,
clear-eyed, smiling, hopeful, happy me.
At least I think it might be me,
despite that captured joy and smoothness.
The other reason I’m somewhat unsure of
the subject’s identity is because
the young fellow in these photos has
longish hair and a pretty nice beard.
A full beard, on a face shining with optimism,
even if it is out-of-focus.
I placed the photo in the bottom
of a shoebox in the closet with
the full-length mirror on the door.
The mirror that shows the image of
the silver-haired guy whose mouth sags
on the left side when he attempts to smile,
as if he’s afraid his face might slough off
the front of his head if he gave in
to full expressions of joy.
That’s the mirror where I stare into
the pair of burrows where nest the windows
of my soul. Deep within, it’s like I
can see inside the shoebox behind the door.
I still wonder what happened to that youngster,
but I at least know I can still find him.

Frameless

I don’t wonder so much
about yesterday and tomorrow anymore.
The uncertainty of my margins,
of then and then, of here and there,
of that you and this you and
me and another me, have become
unnecessary fussiness in
my frameless life.
What is certainty in a world
built upon imperfection?
I can rhyme time with mine;
mine is what this time is.
I sometimes think of you
from those days and don’t worry
about a future that never could be.
You think you escaped
my gallery of conundrums,
but I’d ripped you free from those
confining frames years ago.

In serious need of writing something after two weeks-plus on the road helping with a new granddaughter, I dashed this off between drowses last night. What’s it mean? That’s your call, kind reader.