The Final Movement of Spring’s Symphony in C Major

The muted roll of a tympani
nudged me from my torpor,
as more of the rhythm section
rapped steadily upon the roof.
The wind sounded like strings
stroked long, given vibrato
by shivering maple leaves.
Lying there, I felt the musical
tension swell, as if waiting
for the conductor to signal
a note of resolution.
The house lights flickered, as if
announcing intermission’s end and
I’d yet to more than sip from
my nap time cocktail. With another
bass drum thrum, louder than before,
this audience of one at
at the window to enjoy
Spring’s orchestral finale
of this year’s residency.

Photo ©Joseph Hesch 2014

An Ode to ‘Femotions’ – A Celebration of Life

It was just another sunny spring  Sunday afternoon, the kind where the wind sings its celebratory air,  when I found her curled up in her  own special chair. She wore headphones  holding back wind’s hymn from her ears,  on her cheek I saw tracks of her tears.  “What’re you doing?” I asked,  with the hard-earned knowledge  never to tell a woman not to cry. She looked up with red eyes and  said “We’re going to die.”  I figured this was another of those  things I secretly termed “femotions,” —  cathartic expressions of feminine emotions — I now understood not to try damming  or I’d be damned, you see, as just another male  whose feelings ran the gamut from A to B. “Yep, we’re all somewhere along  that path. Can I help?” I asked. Perhaps  I could make her feel better if I took on her task.  “Yes,” she said, and opened her fist,  within which I found crumpled a  smudged page titled “Funeral Playlist.” “You let me handle this,” I replied, because  I’d already begun one for when I died. I never thought this morbid, collecting  songs for the grieving, reminding us of  loved ones our sides forever leaving.  But what I wrote, like that uplifting breeze,  came swiftly as I penned titles with ease. And they didn’t echo much of sadness nor strife.  With memories wistful, soon I turned over her own fistful, a soundtrack celebrating the love of my life.

For Day 18 of NaPoWriMo, I combined prompts again. A Life and/or Death poem and a poem using neologisms. A neologism is a word made from combining two existing words (like “motel” coming from “motor” and “hotel”) or they could be words invented entirely for their sound. This piece is a cobbled together thing, but the sentiment is one I think about a lot because I’ve already begun making up my all-too-soon to be in rotation ultimate playlist.

You’re Welcome…Welcome…Welcome

music

I introduced you
to those who
gave meter to my
iambic shuffle.
Voices, then
names and faces,
who’d accompany you
on your journey
to nameless places
on trackless roads
to destinations
whose way you’d lost
when your heart
tripped over itself
again and again.

They so mirrored
your thoughts,
you’d use them
to smooth those
jagged days
whose dust they’d wash
from your cheeks
as you’d listen
at night and wonder
the why, why, whys.
Perhaps I was unwise
to share, since now
they no longer
belong to me…
never could to us.
I’ll be fine…
echoes follow me
everywhere.

A 100-word free-write I used as a warmup to today’s fiction work. These dreamy pieces seems to open up my storytelling sluices and maybe give a bit of running-water rhythm to my prose.

In Chorus We Breathe

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Today the wind has sung so well,
trees had no choice but to sway
to its tune and clap their green hands
in a seven-hour standing O.

Whenever I blow, the shrill
or melodious wind that whistles
from my lips doesn’t move the wood
and greenery. It moves me, though.

I can see songs’ unspoken images and,
if I’m lucky, trees responding to me
with feathered leaves launching
on those big gusts.

Winds once rustled my black hair,
before it took on the color of clouds,
now misting these old eyes as breeze,
birds and I in chorus breathe.

B-Side, Myself

God_Only_Knows_single_cover

Just to be different, since I was the invisible boy, remarkably unremarkable in almost every way save one: I spent much of my childhood as a moving bookmark, my nose wedged between the pages even as I walked the book home from the library. But I was looking to stand out just a little from within the covers, as well as from beneath them.

So when I’d scrape together enough nickels and quarters, I’d stop at the Woolworth’s on the way home from the library and buy one of the newer 45 rpm discs of someday classic pop and rock. Once home, I’d put it on the Motorola and become a bookmark lying between the two speakers — each pressed to a corresponding ear — and play the B-side over and over and over.

I’d learn that tune until I could whistle every bass line and guitar fill and listeners on the street (and in the house) would think I thweeted seemingly dissonant passages “God Only Knows” when the other kids moved to the transistor or jukebox that spoon-fed them “Wouldn’t it Nice?”. And I felt better because I knew “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better,” when all everyone else really wanted to hear was “All I Really Want to Do.”

Things haven’t changed too much since then. I was the Deep Cut guy, the cut-out bin diver, for the LPs in college, the listener to the unknown songwriter/bar band who someday came to rule the CD and radio charts. (Where we’d part company.)

These days, when they count overnight downloads in the millions, you’ll hear me whistle the harmony parts of Jason Isbell’s “24 Frames” or Over the Rhine’s “All I Want Is Everything.” It’s okay. I don’t get beside myself when you tell me to learn to carry a tune. I’ll always be that guy, not beside myself over your packaged, promoted and programmed brickbats.

Just B-Side, myself. Period.

Like Striking a Chord to the Svadhishthana

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I remember a February evening sitting on your dorm room’s twin bed in the dim nightlight glow, watching you across the way on the other, a bottle of strawberry wine on the floor between us. You held your Martin like a mom holding her youngest, softly moving up and down its fretboard like you were smoothing powder on its E-minor bottom. Your long hair fell across its body and you closed your eyes as if waiting for kisses in 3/4 time. I was like a poor father, bouncing my Sears Roebuck Silvertone upon my knee, a fractious child throttled to dissonant submission by my left hand. When you offered me your Martin, I cautiously strummed a G-chord and felt its gut-punch tone straight to my Svadhishthana chakra, another lesson about strumming you taught me that night. I experienced that same response from your goodbye kiss in May, when you said you’d never forget me, like I never forgot that F-chord you showed me where I wrapped my thumb around the low E string and left the high E open. Sad that I can’t remember its name. And oh so much sadder still, I can’t remember yours.

A rainy day bit of semi-fictional half-recollections. But then, most recollections of a guy like me these days could be semi-fictional.

Important Recording

The_Mike_Schneider_Polka_Band-2

The Mike Schneider Polka Band

Never knew the compulsion, the why-the-hell,
Dad turned on that radio station each Sunday
while he prepared dinner and fiddled with
a balky carburetor there at the kitchen table.
No, it wasn’t his old-timey Country-Western music
he played when there still was a Western to it.
This music polka’d around the house on tuba oompahs,
accordion wheezes, clarinet giggles and trumpet yodels.
It became as much a part of his and my Sundays as
missing Mass and enjoying the perfume of the cloves
and ginger on the ham or in the sauerbraten.

I eventually asked, “Why d’you listen to this every Sunday?”
And dad would barely look up from his glass of beer
and auto part, and say, “It’s important. Just wait.”
Somewhere in the middle of the next bouncy tune,
the middle-aged DJ (which stood for Deutsche Jockey, I guess)
would pod the music down and say in a middling German accent,
“Dis is an im-pawt-ed re-kawd-ing,” and the music would swell
until the next tune, which sounded a lot like the previous five.
My Old Man would look at me with those sapphire lasers and dead-pan,
“See? An im-pawt-ent recording.” Then he’d grin and interject
through the rest of the program, “Hey, you want to keep it down?
This is an important recording.” Dad was a teaser, not one
for jokes, but when he had one, it never got old to him.

Or, apparently, to me.

Poem(ish) #28 of this year’s Poem-A-Day April marathon. This one is in response to a prompt calling for an “Important (Something)”-titled poem. Probably should have left it in block form, but here’s the true story of two guys named Joe Hesch simmering in their genetic memories and an “Important {Father/Son}(Something).”