Afraid of Being Afraid of the Dark

Here in the darkness, we all look alike.
Yet we fear that which we cannot see.
If we reach out to explore more than
what we hide or hide from,
we might find whatever differences
we sense are actually differences we share.

I wonder what would happen if we conquered
our fears, raised the shades, opened our eyes,
unlocked our doors and allowed a new day
into our rooms. Perhaps we’d discover
it isn’t one another we need fear,
but the darkness within which we cowered,
covers over our heads,
pillows muffling our ears and minds
we kept imprisoned, locked away
by our own intentions.

It’s fear that compels us to conceal
ourselves from the known and unknown,
fears of being hurt in which
we not only hurt ourselves,
but the shadow-shrouded world
we hope would just go away.
My fear is it already has and
now we’re really alone the dark.

What the Winds Leave Behind

I struggle to remember
so many things that
I know I never will.
They’ve blown away
from my grasp in winds
I once bulled my way
through and now bully me.

I can recall many
random things of puzzling
importance, like the blur
of a certain perfume and
a swatch of freckles,
but not face nor name,
a cold confusion where
a sense of warmth
against my skin
once inscribed itself.

But that’s how
the winds of time
mistreat you.
They’ll stagger your steps,
scrub the carvings
from your monumental
and leave you shivering,
cold and bewildered,
these dwindling nights.

Here Behind the Golden Door

What does it take
to leave your home,
your land, all the people
who shared your heritage,
maybe even your name,
to step into the unknown?
Your destination may shine
like the golden door
the green lady lights
with her uplifted lamp.

What’s it like to line up
for the unknown darkness
with the tired and poor,
hell, the wretched refuse?
See how she invites
all of these, the homeless
and tempest-tossed, to join
in breathing the clear,
the fetid, the piney,
the prairie, the briny,
all of this air
redolent of freedom?

You don’t have to know,
my friend. A handful of
men and women, members
of those unintelligible
huddled masses, each
with your name, or
maybe something like it,
stood in the box and
answered them for you
so you could be born
there on second base,
think you hit a triple
and call this place Home.

Don’t know where this came from. Maybe it came across my creative ocean because I’m tracing my roots back to Ireland, Bavaria and Hesse and have run into the antithesis of a golden door, more a leaden wall.  We’re so lucky, ya know?

Secrets the Moon Never Tells

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Our shadows ran out ahead,
shifting shapes upon the swells
and ruts of January’s snow.
Their hands always touching,
even though ours never did.
Our breaths mingled, though,
white and crystalline,
in a communion of warmth
shared only fleetingly.
But that’s how some couplings
run their courses, like
momentary pairs like unbridled horses,
ready to run headlong, though
not necessarily together.
Nevertheless, there lay our shadows,
linked, our exhalations
in exhortation of something
only possible under the unblinking
glare of the full moon’s gaze.
Then you turned the corner
and moonlight glistened in my eyes
like shards of broken glass.

Dashed off in response to Annie Fuller’s Writing Outside the Lines prompt of the latter half of the famous quote from Ground Zero of storyteller Hesch’s fiction exemplars, Anton Chekhov: “(Don’t tell me the moon is shining;)…show me the glint of light on broken glass…”

Another First December Snow

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The first December snow
came upon us overnight,
laying its frozen breath
upon the grass, turning
car roofs into smooth igloos warmed
by internal combustion engines.
I decided to let it rest
upon the driveway, delaying rising
from my chair to remove it.
Neither of us were in any hurry
to move, let alone remove.
Sometimes it feels like
I’ve reached the first week
of my life’s December, the sun
not rising as high as it once did,
its days shorter, nights longer
and my body colder in the lee
of these long shadows cast
o’er top of me. They conceal
the imprinted memories of what
lies behind me, this anti-snow
broadening its lightless view
of a trail ahead without footprints
to leave or follow, only a hope
that somewhere beyond is yet
another first spring rain –another
chance to splash in its puddles
like a child once more.

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2016. It’s by the author from his writing aerie above the back forty, where he contemplates his past, present and future in all-day twilight today.

Nights Covered in Dreams

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My dreams have stopped again, which shouldn’t surprise me because dreams were ever in short supply on the shelves of my mind. They’ve always been scant and what lies on this pillow isn’t some 24-hour emporium of packages filled with images and sensations I once felt, or never will feel again. I like to sleep in total darkness, but enjoyed the light and lightning dreams brought to my nights. Perhaps that’s why, once I awaken now from the dark within darkness, I find dreams in a song, or the kiss, smell and taste of wind and water upon my face, the tracks my pen leaves upon a sheet of paper. Such dreams once were high-flying aspirations, but now bring rest to my mind before it lies dormant, in darkness, whether I’m alone or covered warm beneath other sheets. These woven of percale and reverie, scribbled seam-to-seam with dreams of you.