Portrait of an Artist Named Stella

From inside the little house
within the suburban snow globe,
someone’s given us a good shaking.
Our paper weight neighborhood’s
been plopped onto a potter’s wheel
and is riding a most vigorous spin.
Outside, the landscape’s molding
into plaster life masks of houses,
the road. Cars and trucks
idly shiver beneath the skeletal
fine-limned trees that stand and sway
as if stroked in India ink upon
this immaculate gesso. Or at least
that’s what my bleary eyes see
of our homes enclosed within
this seasonal table top tchotchke.
I’m told there’s an escape-hatch
equinox whose surname connotes Green
over the horizon. But the horizon
lies way past anything I can see
through the snow-smoky white winds
spinning around me while I sit
staring out the window in
the little house within the snow globe
on the desk, where the dizzy poet
pens a blizzard named Stella’s biography.

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Scraping Toward Vernality

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The maples stretch for
aging daubs of Winter,
these gray clouds grimly
clinging to want-to-be
Spring sky. Red-bud nails
on their fingertips claw
to snatch what lies
just out of reach,
like an escape tunnel beneath
fickle March to April,
the hope of this dreamer
captured in endless February.
Today, robins delivered
prospects for escape
from this steely season
hidden in their songs
like files within King Cakes.
Sun sinks out there,
later each day, while
shadow maples stretch
across this field
pulling back Winter’s
flimsy blankets, clinging
to a want-to-be Spring…
Just Spring.

Sacraments of the Snow

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So small is each worker,
yet so united in communion,
that they cloud my view
of what their force builds.
It’s their lot in my back lot
to shape a scape as placid as
a pearl’s face, with whom
even selfish moon feels compelled
to wed it’s center-stage light
in the blackest February night.

But this congregational effort
to absolve the dark transgressions
and from chill gray winter
will only stand as a tent village,
a home temporary as a sinner’s promise,
for these crystallized raindrops
set to ascend back north
when the river ice cries out
and floats south to the sea.

On this Sunday, the frozen souls
will whisper prayerfully
from matins to vespers
in vestments so chaste,
as the soles of sinful men
sully this pristine place of worship,
this mausoleum where they await
the rapture of equinox crawling
beneath the southeastern horizon
toward earth’s resurrection.

Dawn, Feb. 11, 2017

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You stir, cough, roll over and peek one-eyed at the clock signaling in garish mini-sunrise that it’s 6:30 AM. Kicking off the covers, you swing to face the wall while your feet search for slippers hidden in the coolness of your bed’s shadow. Scuffs beneath your feet, you shuffle to the window and pull back the curtain just a crack to see the consequences executed by the overnight snow. Eyes blink their reconciliation with the alarming alchemy cosmically metamorphosing the black-smudge base metal of yesterday into the platinum of a new day. Wedding cake duplexes and cupcake SUVs suspended from the clouds by steamy exhalations surround the cul de sac as gray dawn doesn’t so much rise as just happen. Crows calling in cacophonous amity, scratch away the comforting blanket of bedroom quiet. Four inches? Six inches? Does it matter? You still ache from pushing aside Thursday’s storm, so what’s to come when you eventually step into the subarctic day is just another pile of potential, frozen and tossed upon your front step like a million Sunday papers. You crack your back, grab some socks and head downstairs. Weekend’s come and it still feels like Thursday.

Welcome to my shivering, shoveling, sleep-deprived world. And I count myself lucky to be here in it.

Fresh Canvas

Unblemished and waiting  © Joseph Hesch, 2011

Unblemished and waiting
© Joseph Hesch, 2011

When which is sky
and which is ground
can only be determined
by the faint horizon
of trees and houses,
you know winter’s taken
its broad brush to the world.
While fresh on the canvas
of the neighborhood’s
dormant grass or
the dark driveways and rooftops,
the snow is a frosty gesso
waiting for the artists
to scribe their marks.
Out front, homeowners scrape
black lines of tire tracks,
swaths of plowed driveways
and shoveled walks in their
gallery of suburban Mondrians.
But out back, the furry natives
leave their tiny glyphs
telling histories before
written history and
the trees shake a new coating
of white upon which to write
the next chapter with each gust
from the northwest.

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.

Staring at Nothing, Seeing It All

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All alone while south-bounding
this midnight highway, I’m staring
at the painted lines on the road.
The high beams serve as the conduit
through which I’m reeling
yellow-yellow-yellow into my eyes as I
draw closer to here, to there, please
don’t let it be once more to nowhere.

Now the snow is falling, though
from my aspect behind the wheel
it surges toward me in one long burst
of white and I dare not blink
or I might lose the road altogether,
the touchstone lines now erased.

My eyes must be stinging from all
this gaping into the glare
of faded yellow lines on black,
now motes of white ice dust
streaming upon a beam of light.
I just tell you they’re sweating tears
from the strain as I idly wipe
them aside with the back of my hand.

All I really see is your face out there.
All the rest is mere background…nothing.
All I want is to make it home and ask for
one more chance to make it all —
all the unbroken lines of all our strife,
all the blizzards of guilt I’ve run from since
all I knew was walking. I’ve run out of road.
All I want is back there by you.

In Poem #22 in the April Poem-A-Day slog to May, I’m responding to Robert Lee Brewer’s promo for a piece with “Star (Something)” in its title. Well, you know how Hesch rolls…too cute by half. Mission accomplished, Robert.