License Revoked

Perhaps we should
earn licenses to operate,
we of the human species.
And by that I mean not
that we need licenses to exist,
because that would be in-human.
No, I think perhaps we should
be licensed in humanity,
in behavior that is humane
toward all living things,
each other, the planet’s beasts
and even the planet itself.
And yes, that sounds inanely
Pollyannish, but there must be
something we can do to help
straighten out the behavior
of homo sapiens before homo sapiens
falls back into mere homo erectus.
Of course, along would come
homo advocatus, to get a mean drunk,
busted for humaning while
ability impaired, off on a piddling
harsh language ticket.
Goddamn lawyers!
Oh, sorry, my fellow humans
of the bar, there I go proving
even the most well-meaning
of us can’t help but revert
to our baser instincts.
Oh well, I’m only human.

Day 19 of my poem-a-day quest. A “license” poem. And this is the first and only thing that crawled out of my creative primordial ooze. Probably should have stayed there.

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A Climate of Change

Down the hill Winter bleeds unabated,
leaving behind the wounds we couldn’t see.
With all the trees gone I guess we’re fated
to find a pond where a pond shouldn’t be.

The ground’s still frozen ‘neath its epidermis,
so there’s nowhere but down the hill to go.
Up on top is where the earth’s the firmest,
but down here we’ve an inch of melted snow.

It’s nothing new, just how it goes come Spring
or whatever passes for that these days.
Lately you never know what March will bring,
another blizzard or mid-Summer haze.

It could end up the latter or former,
even both, since we’ve made Earth so much warmer.

If you want to argue or troll, find another poet. I’m too old, too sick, too tired and too sad to get in a pissing match about this. 

Waiting With Hopeful Heart

Winter is creeping
off with Spring today,
slowly nibbled away
by a Sun that knows
an angle (and temperature)
greater than 32 degrees.
You can hear it ebbing away
in heartbeat drips
down the waterspout
from the gutters.
Tock, tock, tock…
The sun is granting
storm-fallen branches
early release from
snow’s grip on the yard,
providing enough heat
for them to flex space
around their plaintive reaches.
Invisible robins are providing
vocals atop the beat
from the gutters and
the wind sounds different,
with its Southern accent.
Bluebirds flit among
the maples’ red buds,
waiting for them to go off
like vernal fireworks.
And I sit and wait,
for what I don’t know, but
listening with hopeful heart.
Tock, tock, tock…

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2018

Spring Sings Its Advent Hymns in February Skies

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2019

The hawk traces lazy eights
across the high clouds and distant blue.
You wonder how he keeps warm up there
when it’s single digits down here
on the white blanket ground.
Then a flash of blue stretches
flat waves across the road,
hanging azure bunting on hooks of air.
The jay finishes it’s celebratory decoration,
nailing it to an oak with both feet.
His obsidian-eyed stare declares
he’s still master of this level of the sky.

But a softer shade of blue
catches my eye at the top
of the red maple guarding my lawn.
Upon this bluebird’s chest he wears
a shield of look-at-me vermillion
and he sings in low-pitched triplets
of tu-a-wee tu-a-wee. I don’t speak
bluebird, but I think he’s singing a hymn
about Spring’s waiting like dimes
in the maple’s childlike bud fists
to drop into some March Sunday’s
collection basket.
Amen.

Composition In White and Black

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2018

You know it’s Winter when
the sky and ground
mirror one another,
and near their middle
the roads, trees and houses
provide the deep-end
grayscale contrast.
You can sit at your window
on a Sunday morning,
squint and nothing changes,
as if the whole scene’s
like a painting by Franz Kline.
Then drop of black
from the upper right corner
drifts through the dark
middle ground to the lower white,
to become a jagged spot
where the white paint flaked off
leaving behind a black canvas.
I know it’s really a crow,
but I’ll hold this squint
until Spring.

Big As All Winter, Small As a Snowflake

10:00 AM
It’s been a light,
excuse-me snow fallen all morning.
The kind you may not notice
if you look out the window
through these sheer white curtains,
because that’s what’s happening
outside, too.
But after a couple of hours
or so, your upstate New York
genetic wiring kicks in
and you part the curtains
to see what you’ll need to
shovel away as soon as
“Excuse me. Don’t get up”
turns into
“It’s been nice, see ya.”

12:00 Noon
It’s still snowing,
and Winter’s great eraser
has softened most of
the jagged debris left
by the plows from the last snow,
like Nature’s own Photoshop app.
Even the stains the dog next door
left to certify my driveway
is really his, have disappeared
behind today’s gentle white curtains.

2:00 PM
It’s time to close the sheers
and let Nature take her course,
or teach it,
because snow is always better
seen and not yet herded
into Man’s gray boundaries.
Of course, that’s only if you can
just watch it from a poet’s perch,
where everything looks smooth
and clean as this paper
before I buried it under
flurries of worries about things
that can feel big as all Winter
and small as a snowflake.

Table for One

Photo ©2018 Joseph Hesch

From a distance, you can’t really see it,
there across that expanse of white.
Maybe from a higher angle like a window seat.
And that’s how I found it,
the smudge of fresh bright red
in a small ragged depression on the snow.
Nowhere near it did I see any footprints,
not coyote, fox or bobcat.
But there in that spot lie inked
the final punctuation of the life sentence
of some mouse or vole.
He did not see the end coming,
especially if it came at night.
Though clouds have cast the entire yard
in their shadows for days and days.

Was it a hungry hawk, whose sharp cry
I heard while I shoveled away
my own mark on the snowscape?
Was it an owl, the silent assassin
whose wings leave no track upon the night air.
Does it matter? No. Not even to
the guest of honor who also was the menu item
at this exclusive dining spot,
table for one, no reservation necessary,
just drop in, takeaway available,
where the table linen is so clean you
can eat off it and the busboys wear midnight
and speak a language like brass nails
scraped on a slate blackboard.