April, So Cruel

The rain’s laying
its restorative hands
upon the lands
surrounding my old house.
Our long winter has left
this pillow upon which sets
my only treasure a scratched
and motley patch
of tan, brown and olive.
April’s poetic showers
have only just arrived,
with May a week away.

Poor May, tasked with
completing the work
of two months in its 31 days,
scurrying along April’s
grass shoots, the crocuses
and daffodils, as well as
nursing its own tulips and lilacs.
April’s cold and snowy sloth
has shifted its cruelty
just as an October would
in blowing its leaves
into November’s yard.

This is probably a make-up poem for Day #22 of this month, sliding into the gap caused by my trip to North Carolina. It was supposed to be a “plant” poem, which i guess you could say it is tangentially, but it turned into a mild screed on how this winter has stretched its frozen fingers into a whole lot of the calendar’s Spring. But Nature can’t tell time and that calendar page beginning with A is just more junk for me to rake up this weekend…if it stops raining. Story/poem coming up in a bit for Day #27.

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Dribbling Out the Clock

It came and went so swiftly,
the February evening snow
and its morning melt.
You could hear its heartbeat
as it ran down the rainspout
once the sun climbed above
the trees’ skeletal arms.
They shook small fists
newly clenched on their
branch tips, as if protesting
Winter’s next icy incursion.
Such protests never elicit
the preferred end result
while the calendar still
has March to march through.
But I admire these maples’
sanguine rush to get their
life’s blood flowing again
now that it’s sugaring time.
I raised my fists, too,
and shook them until
the blood rose in my cheeks.
Then, I slapped the old maple
on the ass like a teammate
from a dimly recalled basketball
season. My recall of those years
melts as quickly as this snow.
It drip-drip-drips as fast as
the gutter and the sweet sap
of memory dribbled by #44,
Acer Saccharum.

For those of you not hip to the vernacular of basketball, a sport I coached for 30 years, “dribbling out the clock” is the practice a team ahead in the score might use to burn up what’s left of the amount of time left in the game. One or more players will just dribble the ball as the clock runs down, rather than attempt to score any more points. In other words, the game is for all intent and purpose, over, save for that final buzzer. You may read into that bit of between-the-lines (another bit of sports argot) what you will. Oh, and Acer Saccharum is the  scientific name for SugarMaple.

Charon’s SUV Turns Left at Number 57

The snow’s melting
beneath my window, as
small streams form
along the roadside.
They ring the cul-de-sac,
like some suburban River Styx,
circling my little world
nine times before heading
into the Underworld
of the storm drain.
That’s where the waters
gathered as some great
rainbow-topped sea
before dropping into its maw.
This world has fed them
salt, gasoline and other
poisonous potions we ignore
shrug off like a spring shower.
I’m told to drink the Styx
would render the god silent
for nine years. But to taste
these shining waters might render
a songbird voiceless longer.

Memory of Snow, Rain and Fog

At his post by the window, he sees them at dawn,
the seasonal habitués who usually sojourn here
in March or so. Three sisters, the triad manifestations
of water have come calling early and he must greet them.

Before him lies one in the form of snow,
once solid and grounded, as was he back when.
On its face it holds the story of lives and deaths,
writ in foot prints and a splotch of red.
Crows have punctuated, in deep black holes,
the final chapters of some prey left by a coyote,
while squirrels dot chains of ellipses,
linking forgotten conversations from tree to tree.

The grand smudge above cries tears like April’s,
falling from the heavens’ gray cheeks,
which float always beyond the reach of empathetic oaks,
who sag in solicitous sadness under the weight
of the skies’ drops of yet unknown future tales.
The rains wash away some of snow’s chronicle
of one year’s death and another’s birth,
like history rewritten by some usurping un-worthy.

And, between heaven and earth, glides water’s
nebulous self, a chilling fog, translucent and clean.
It smears the known, rendering the familiar
not quite so accurate, like the passage of time
does an old man’s memory. It will leave his cheeks
shining and damp, as if his crying has ended,
though he knows it’s only abated. It crawls up
and nests in the trees, as would his younger self.

That he plainly sees, as he slops back to the house,
where it’s warm and dry and his family will tsk-tsk
him about walking in weather like this.
But he stares out the window, wondering how long
until what’s left of his sojourn will dissolve,
blown away in blizzards of white, lost in
foggy gray memories, and punctuated by a grand black
!”

Too long away from inspiration and creativity. As has often been the case, if not sleep, then weather provides impetus to get back into this hard-backed saddle. Photo © 2018, Joseph Hesch. You know, me.

Finally Fallen

There are times I felt
like a leaf fallen from a tree,
blown away from Home,
that place from where
spring my roots.
I’d be chased by this breeze and that,
run in circles going nowhere,
tossed among other
untethered souls awaiting burial
or burning.
But I always hung on,
the sturdy one,
gutting out October,
never-minding November,
shaking off December
and its snows. Then
I’d slip the North Wind’s
noose and start over again.
But now has come the winter
I couldn’t escape,
when I fell without a breath,
captured and held in stasis
by this cold beyond Death,
awaiting some Spring when
I will be released and forgotten
among the other scraps
blown away from Home,
where my roots have lost their hold.
Perhaps the tree will fall
without me there to hold it up.

Photo © Joseph Hesch 2018.

Winter Haiku 2017

The town’s turned all white
with the first December snow —
Useless to fight, I know

I awoke to find
the ground wrapped in swaddling clothes —
Snowy rind. Red nose

Crunchy underfoot,
the backyard an empty page —
Snow in my boot – rage

Christmas weeks away,
the new tree arrayed with lights —
I pray. Fam’ly fights

Santa doesn’t come,
to some kids in my old ‘hood —
Bum, they were e’en good

What if ol’ Christmas
didn’t come around one year?
Bad business, I fear

Shoveled all morning
and now my back’s all janky.
Warning! I’m cranky!

Because of my current creative speed-bumps, I thought I’d go back to the start of it all for Poet Joe–haiku. Of course, knowing me, you’d expect at least a little wrinkle. Yeah, I tried to rhyme the first two lines within the five measly syllables of the final line. Mission (sorta) accomplished.

Under the Frayed Edge of November

The sky grew darker, as if
someone was closing the box on today,
the clouds so gray and cold
you shiver just looking at them
from the window. But that’s how we live,
here on the cusp of December.
Winter’s not quite a month away,
says the calendar. But those of us
who have shaken off the chill,
as well as old November snows,
look at the sky and think the year’s
only as old as it feels.

Today it felt pretty old.

The howling wind blew the slate
cumulo-strato-numb-makers eastward.
And blue, that icy blue that leaves
a halo around the sun before
giving way to the blackness that
canonizes the moon, surrounded
the shreds of steel-wool clouds,
that inevitably cover the sky
like a ragged comforter that’s
put in the inky blanket chest
until next the box opens on a today
so warm.

Photo © 2014 Joseph Hesch