Like a Bad Banana With a Greasy Black Peel

I never liked this tie,
but it’s the only one I own
that doesn’t have some stain right over my heart.
That’s what I get for skipping breaks
and eating at my desk or hustling out
without breakfast and gulping
something down while doing 70 mph.
I should remember to take them off
before eating. Or just don’t eat jelly donuts
with powdered sugar, Big Macs or ice cream cones
in business wear.

Well, at least I have one clean tie to wear
to this meeting. I’m sure everybody,
even the governor, owns a Christmas tie
peppered with Grinches. Too bad it’s August, though.
Maybe if I maintain laser-like eye contact,
he won’t notice. That’s me, focusing on the task
in front of me, whether it’s writing a speech
or speeding through rush hour traffic.

Okay, on time and…God damn it!
The cup’s top wasn’t clicked tight.
Look at this stain! Focus, son, focus.
Yessir, good to see you, too.
Yessir, I see you’re heading out for golf.
Yessir, I’ll be brief. Yep, it sure is hot.
Coffee? No thanks, sir. Already had enough.
Make myself more comfortable? Thank you, sir.
I never liked this tie anyway.

My friend Dan Mader liked the first line of my story, The Viewing, and said it could make a great first line for any number of pieces. He should never do that to an obsessive-compulsive and competitive guy like me. So, right out of bed, focused like a laser on the task in front of me, coffee dribbled on my tee shirt, here’s my first try at The Tie. Oh, and the title, of course, comes from the Grinch song from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I thought it fit.

Welcome to No Man’s Land

The tractor’s in the shop and I
should’ve sent my back there weeks ago.
So the grass out front has mounted
a full frontal assault on our home’s
curb appeal (if we had curbs)
and an interdiction upon the exercise
of my creaky and aching masculine ego.
Usually, the state of a man’s lawn
is something that will twist his
Obsession Dial to 9 or 10, especially
from April to Independence Day.
But sometime after that, the drive
to maintain that pool table-perfect
expanse of turf withers a bit,
not unlike the object of my
all-consuming passion for greensward.
But let one person ask what happened
to the once-plumb and level landscape,
and the explosion of counter offensive
will lay low the Creeping Charlie that
dares to peek its head above the fescue.
I turn busy anthills, lumpy underfoot,
into smooth and fertile ossuaries
for the insects more industrious
than the he whose subsoil they mined.
Your homeowner, smug, sweat-soaked
and satisfied, heads into the house
for a shower, beer and nap. I don’t
yet know how last night grubs hatched
and moles and crows will tear
this man’s lawn into no man’s land
by Tuesday.

Gospel of the Golden Hour

In the distance, rain clouds
drop millions of miniature prisms
as they march upon Mechanicville.
But it isn’t the Sunday afternoon
shower catching my attention.
As too little sleep dims my vision,
today closes its solar eye
over the rooftops behind me.
I cast a shadow a furlong eastward,
seemingly reaching for the trees
that glisten as they breathe in
the southwest breeze.
They’ve taken on a flaxen glow,
like a coterie of Fox News bunnies
beaming into their key lights.
They’re fair in the balanced
auric light, a photographer’s dream,
turning them into brilliant beings
of otherworldly luminescence.
The rain’s turned into an inclusive
rainbow spanning the Hudson,
while I turn to the west and
am enlightened, my face taking on
a glowing mask of a rapturous mien.
It’s as if all of us have been touched
by a greater power at this, the Golden Hour.
And that’s Real News.

This was one of those allegedly inspired pieces that drew me out of what I was doing and demanded to be written before it was lost in the darkness. I’m not saying it was a divine inspiration or even one of any importance. The premise/hook/true subject didn’t occur to me until I finished the first draft, which this, for all intent, is. But the trees really did look like a bunch of hyperventilating blondes heaving their bosoms in the glow of the Golden Hour, which seems some sort of blessing for those of us who view such light as a gift from above. And I mean more than 93,000,000 miles above. Photo © Joseph A. Hesch 2016

Splashing Through the Looking Glass

There on the road ahead,
a mirror lies. It tells
a story so slant you can
see up by looking down.
But that’s a mirror for you,
always showing you
the opposite of the truth,
though still truth, nonetheless.
Everyone knows when mirrors
fall to the ground they’ll
shatter into any number
of pieces, all of them
complicit in the same
conspiracy to tell the same
story, though some lie
bigger than others.

This mirror is antithetical
to the opposite kind gracing
your wall or dresser.
It began as pieces that fell
to earth in yesterday’s storm,
each reflecting the same setting.
Once on the road, it formed
the scene I see within its margins.
When I entered this watery one,
suddenly, there are more liars
than when I left the roadway.
But that’s a puddle for you,
splattering its own prismed
fiction all over you.
Liars lying no more.

My Tragicomic Work in Progress

“Everyone is trying to read the last page of the book.”
~ Chuck Todd, Meet The Press Daily, June 20, 2017

When I was a kid, I’d often sit
and wonder how my life would turn out,
the whole epic saga of Joe Hesch.
Would it be a thick volume or two,
full of adventures and notable acts
of merit or valor? Or perhaps
a pamphlet of failure and sadness?
And thus far, I have found,
as I reach the climax of this tale
full of sound and fury,
but mostly quiet and solitude,
it’s been told by an idiot,
an actor scuffling across his stage
forgetting his lines. Or, more likely,
his lines being forgotten.

I’ve had my entrances and exits,
my hour upon the stage, and then
I’ll likely be heard no more.
And that’s all right, I guess.
I just hope that I’m able to write it
to its denouement, penning a satisfied
Finis to its last page.
And I still dream. Dream that, like
younger me, older me, current me,
not necessarily everyone, just you,
someday have a yen to find
where my pen took it. Even if
only to see your part in what’s still
my tragicomic work in progress.

My somewhat poetic free-written take on this week’s Writing Outside the Lines challenge presented by my friend Annie Fuller. This week it’s prompted by that quote from NBS News’ political editor and moderator of its venerable Meet the Press Sunday morning show.

Ms. Dawn Again

She entered the lobby around 5:00,
the first flirty filaments of her
wafting above the trees, and I,
like a downwind dog,
inhaled them with my eyes.
They twitched like Mollie’s nose
would when she’d sense something
coming before it even arrived.
She crawled from her bed into mine,
stealing the covers and pushing me
out of the ever capricious arms
of rapturous repose.
Oh, how she does conspire to tire
me even before she sprawls
her sparkling robe upon the lawn
and signs the guestbook under the alias
June Twenty-six Two-thousand Seventeen.
But she’s really Dawn Again.

The Uninvited Guest

This morning Sun rapped
not too gently on the doors
of my eyes. I knew who was there
immediately, but nonetheless
cracked the lids open
to his blaring reveille.
Sun barged in like an uninvited wind
and made himself home while I
still entertained Sleep and
her low humming songs.
In an awkward scene, she begged
my leave, for her quiet ways and
uninvited Sun’s beaming personality
almost never share a room—
let alone a bed.
I bade her a sad farewell,
as Sun tousled my hair,
pulled back the covers and
called in his friend, Morning.
Last I looked, they were still
bouncing upon my bed.
I phoned Evening, inviting her
back for another visit.
She’s yet to return my call.