Snowflake Warm As Summer Rain



Over my many winters, or maybe 
just this long one and only, 
I have stood, sat or lain here 
and watched the snowflakes fall. 
Some I’ve followed from the heavens 
to my feet. Others blown away from me 
by the cold winds that have chilled 
my heart and frozen my soul. 
A very few have deigned to spiral 
and swoop to land upon my lashes, 
catching my eye more than I caught them.

Then there’s you, who I spied one day 
in your earthward glide, toward me and away, 
then blown back by winds I never felt 
but you did. You’re lways defying gravity 
out there in front of me or 
at the corner of the corner of my eye. 
If you ever were to land upon me, 
I know you’d feel as warm there as 
summer rain or perhaps a tear on my cheek. 
One I'll never wipe away.

Winter’s Always Coming for Someone



I can’t recall if it was so gradual 
I didn’t notice, or all at once, 
like I suffered some kind 
of emotional trauma, 
but the pines catching snow 
on their needles reminds me 
of when I found my whiskers 
had begun going white.
I can’t say it bothered me 
all that much, not like when my hair 
turned from salt and pepper 
to a pilar NaCl without the spice
and from there to a skinny
low-sodium diet from my ears up.
But nature certainly has a way 
of letting one know Winter’s coming,
whether a guy's looking at a pine tree
in November's falling snow or his face 
in the mirror on the weekend.

By the way, pilar is an adjective meaning “of or related to hair.” I chose it instead of hirsutal because it was less work changing one letter from one of those Doric columns lining the fronts of old public buildings, rather than a whole mess of spell-checked letters in that swishy thing attached to the ass end of a cowboy’s mount. Which, come to think of it, is a pretty hirsutal thing, too.

Being Human In the Headlights



Wednesday morning, the big doe stepped 
from the brush girding the stand of pines 
on the north side of the yard. 
She was a majestic dream of a deer. 
Grandest female I’ve ever seen, even hiding 
her beauty beneath that late autumn coat. 
Idling halfway across the yard, she stopped, 
brown eyes looking into mine as I froze 
in the kitchen window. This dull grey human 
in the headlights. I broke the connection, 
blinking loud enough I spooked her.

Who am I kidding? She stopped to spook me.
How she knew I was intently eyeballing her 
is probably the same superpower you have 
when I stare at you, even standing there
in my imagination. You just know.

So, just like that, soon as she knew 
I’d been whipped, she trotted 
the rest of the way into the southside shadows, 
disappearing with a shake of her tail 
and three four-beat cloppities of her hooves. 
And now you’re both shrouded in my forest, 
your own stand of memory within me. 
I hope you’ll come back around and see me, 
even in your dun autumn coat,
still shining as grand as you really are.
I promise this time I won’t blink.

Once I Was A Sky-Gazer



I used to notice so much in the sky,
airliners writing travelogues 
in white contrail ink, birds penning
songs in feathered bunting strung
tree to tree, castles and dragons
and here and there your face sculpted
in billowing vapor, even the poorly
cleaned blackboard ceiling upon which
crows would scratch their calls.

After sundown I’d watch the winter moon 
rise working hard to escape from the net 
of limbs the maples tossed skyward 
to no avail, watch the escapee glide 
behind windblown clouds, follow stars 
as they ran their courses as if the gods 
were twisting the dial on the firmament, 
and wonder if I was hearing the invisible
vee calling the cadence as it sky-marched 
from Canada to the Chesapeake.

I don’t sense so much anymore as I wander 
alone beneath that world flying above 
since my neck doesn’t bend back far enough 
to scan the great dome covering 360 degrees 
of horizontal wonder. But over there 
an empty bag of chips is chasing a squirrel 
up that oak, at dawn the neighborhood windows 
glow like apricots or 65-inch rainbows, and then
there’s this flat me-shaped guy who tripped me 
the other day when he caught me while I tried
sky-gazing again.

Trying For a Mountain When a Molehill Will Do



I’m sitting at my window watching
a mountain being born upon 
the swatch of ground between me and 
the shed. Something out there wiggled, 
distracting my eye from this sheet 
of white, which lies as flat and dormant
as my inspiration and the near-frozen 
ground from which -obviously - 
mountains can happen. 

Again it shakes and an eruption of fresh
earth spews forth, cascading down 
its conical form like I wish 
great words would from my pointy head. 
And I spit curses at myself and Nature 
because there She goes making 
perfect molehills again while I’m 
stuck trying to make mountains.

True happening. Too true failing.

Anything Worth Doing Well Is Worth Doing Slowly



I’m sitting here watching the oaks 
slowly shed their ragged russet costumes. 
They tease me like a stripper might,
dropping one leaf from way up there, 
only to stop the drop on 
a well-placed limb just below.
Maybe this tall lady outside my window 
is like one of those Gypsy Rose Lee 
talkative strippers. Where a big part
of the act is the teasing patter
as much as the ecdysiastic matter.

I can’t really hear the leaves fall,
though. Not from behind this window.
I just remember the lyrics of the song 
they sang when I was a kid,
and I’d look upwards along the trunk 
and watch oak leaves big as catcher’s mitts 
drift like tulle all the way down 
atop me there in the first row
while the north wind band blew and, 
just like today, I thought I heard 
the leaves whisper, Let me entertain you…

Combined two prompts today, because I’m running behind. Had to write poems based on Nature and Memory. The title is a quote from Louise Hovick, Gypsy herself.

Call It



I don’t think the trees 
care if the leaves they flip 
come up heads or tails.
They just let them fall, 
like coins into an old 
toll booth basket, something
you must do to get from here 
to there, from Summer to Winter.
Sometimes I feel like
one of those leaves, 
flipped from the branch 
closest to the sky,
where I could sometimes
feel as if I was flying, 
only I’m actually tripping my way 
down the oaken stairway, 
ultimately jumping into
the void between Up and Down.
I know the ground's coming,
cold and sad as another broken heart,
but for a moment or two, 
I’m defiant, ignoring gravity 
upon an October breeze, 
enjoying a freedom I’ve only felt
for so short a time before.
It’s not the sky in which I fly, 
but, soon enough, the bare trees 
won’t block my view of that blue.

         Unless…

                       Heads!

Fallen Again



From their highest branch perch 
upon us they’ll spy,
in this sylvan church
on whose floor they’ll all lie.

But some have yet to fall,
though look at them sway,
like bold paintings on the wall
of a windy gallery display.

They must know come their ends,
colors bright as beacons,
as cold North Wind portends
and their grip weakens.

There goes another I see
I’d hoped might be staying.
Nature’s iconography
at which I’d been praying.

But all we can do is sigh
as they wave ‘bye and fly, remember,
when most leaves fall and die
come dark mid-November.

And that’s how it goes,
as years and we grow old.
Winter’s silver snows
will plate even autumn’s gold.

My prayers cannot stop
the passage of time.
Like leaves we’ll drop when we drop,
with or without silly rhyme.

It’s October and  I’ve fallen, dear,
and I don’t care if you’re an oak or birch.
Labels don’t matter to me here,
leaf’s a leaf, love’s love in my church.

Photo ©2015, Joseph Hesch 

Come As You Are


Lake George, Autumn, 1927 by Georgia O'Keeffe

Conflicted leaves hang 
between summer slick 
and autumn tweed, 
at this place on the lake 
where your heart stays
and my invitation says 
come as you are.
And we stand on the deck 
behind this place, 
while the setting light 
upon your face
says it’s all right,
you saved some space
where I can lay my head.
And that’s where we are,
behind that locked door,
you’ve opened in your heart
and I don’t need any more 
than a dream on your pillow.
I’ll even sleep on the floor.
‘Cause the invitation reads
come as you are. 
And I’m yours.

Sorry for the disappearing act. I haven’t been feeling well. I’ll tell you the story in a week or so. But I was inspired to write this today by looking out my window and into a heart.

Within the Poems of Autumn

Photo by S. Zeilenga
Photo by S. Zeilenga

When autumn comes, I look back 
on the trail I’ve just followed, 
hoping to find out where I’m going 
while becoming lost in the loneliness
of where I’ve been. Here and there 
I see my footprint pages, those wandering 
thoughts and feelings about this, that, 
me and you I didn’t know I’d left behind 
until I looked back. Back where I was lost.
The maples, in their majestic magic, 
drop their poems, too, allowing 
today’s skies to grow within their branches
with each beat of the wind, showering 
us with the color and aroma of something 
leaving the trail toward tomorrow 
to a leaf-lined tomorrow, shushing our 
sad memories to wind-swept whispers, 
and keeping our secrets between 
the journal pages  they safeguard 
beneath their shadowy hands.