Our Side of the Fence

“Can I touch one, Mama?” Cody asked.

“I don’t know if that would be wise,” I told her as I pushed the hair back from her eyes.

“But she’s so beautiful. Look how the wind blows her hair just like mine.”

I looked them over, watching how they moved around the enclosure and finally said, “We don’t know if we can trust how tame they are. There’s a good reason they’re behind this four-wire fence. I’ve heard the mothers can be pretty protective of their babies.”

“Pleeeze, can’t I just once? I’ll be careful,” Cody pleaded in that whiney way of hers. I noticed her edging closer to the fence, just as one of the colts ambled nearer to us.

“Cody, I said wait. You don’t know them and they don’t know you. It’s like we’re from different planets, far from home. Lord knows we are.”

I never liked it when we went on these summer trips, even when I was younger. I remember one year my cousin…

“Look, she likes me,” Cody said as she and one of the young ones reached through the fence for one another.

“Cody!” I screamed, just as the colt’s mother came running over. Both kids jumped and scratched themselves on the fence. The mare pushed her little one away favoring a cut on her floppy little white forehoof.

“See? And that’s why they keep them on the other side of the fence,” I told Cody as I licked the blood off her nose.

Here’s a tortured (and whinnied) 250-word first draft bit of flash fiction written for Cara Michaels’ #MondayMenage thingy. A triple-header of prompts here. One: that photo. Two: the phrase “far from home.” And three: The concept of Trust. Someday I’ll figure out if there’s something deeper involved in what my imagination spit out in these words. (I think there might be.) Well see, if I ever cross its fenceline for a proper revision.

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The Winds Came Up Today

The winds came up today,
shaking the old man awake
when they tousled the curtains
across his drafty window.
The winds came up today,
bending the trees,
in full late-Spring flutter,
to wave their frayed flags,
some spitting out their whirligig seeds
to fly from there to there.
The winds came up today,
tipping birds in yawing flight
from the old man’s house
to the school, where
cheering kindergartners freed
their new butterflies
each from the safety of
its cracked chrysalis.
The winds came up today
in front of the old man’s house,
tearing away the tag
on the wheelchair by the roadside
which said, “Free, no longer needed.”
“The winds came up today,”
the nurse said to the old man.
But he already knew
after they whispered him
awake from the drafty window.
The winds came up today…
Only the winds.
Only the winds.

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.

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.