I like to watch the pines
as they breathe in this cold air.
It’s all theirs, it would seem,
since they don’t have to share it
with their broadleaf sisters
for a few more months.
It is of a different vintage
from the vernal, summer, or
even autumnal variety stuff,
what they take in now. It seems
clearer, cleaner, a steelier ether
that tightens their needlework
about them like old letter sweaters.
Enjoy it while you can,
snark the stark maples,
oaks and poplars, standing and shivering
like under-clothed underclothes models.
Meanwhile, the pines pine not.
They just take in meditative breath
after breath, or heave their chests
in bellowing exhalations that smell
of kerosene in the raw and
Christmas pitched until Opening Day.
I’m afraid I may have clear-cut too many metaphors, analogies and the like in this little copse of evergreen reverie. For that (and that last sentence), I apologize. I’m just praying poetry is a sustainable resource in the forest of my life. Fiction? Well, that is a deciduous dilemma right now. Though I’ve scattered some acorns and whirly-seeds that I hope, with patience and gratitude, will take root and prosper.
Photo © Joseph Hesch, 2018
She flies closer from beyond the hill,
gliding through the snowfall
like an animated gray scale,
white to smoke to stone to black.
And once by my window, she alights
upon the the pristine page outside
and before me, a cast-off drop
and this cascade of ink. She flies off
holding some tidbit within the pincers
of her beak, only to hurry back
to bus more off this tablecloth
spread out before her. She’s cleaning up
while I am making a mess right here.
Now the crow’s gone, fading like my memory,
from black to stone to smoke to…
The two feet of snow
the length of December,
and now Winter looks
like Autumn from my window.
The great smoother
of Man’s and Nature’s
jagged angles has ebbed
its way back into the clouds,
leaving reminders of a job
poorly done collecting leaves.
But one can’t expect perfection
when you are, indeed,
And that is the lot
of the lone gardener,
the one who wields
the rake or the pen.
Or so I’m told.
I suppose I could go out
into the cold cold afternoon
to gather the leaves
that came after I put away
my toothy tools, just as
I suppose I could sit here
with a heater at my feet
and rake words into
this biodegradable bag
of free verse. Besides,
there’s no one looking
to collect any leaves
until March. Like no one’s
inside looking at poems.
Last night, I sat and torpidly watched
from my window the advent of deep winter
settle in well before Christmas .
I recall going out with the dog
on nights like this, when
what few sounds you could hear
seemed brittle upon arrival.
It was so still the cadenced report
of our feet on the snow was
something between a crunch and a squeak.
Every breath left the taste of steel
and blood on the back of your throat,
and each “C’mon, Slowpoke,” would
hang in front of your mouth like
sub-zero comic strip dialogue.
The air about you smelled so clean
as it chicaned its way through
the warming chambers lying
behind your frozen face, upon which,
if you cracked a smile,
you might indeed do just that.
Then you’d feel the tug of the leash
as a simple animal felt it necessary
to remind this dreamer that his dreams
were best accomplished under warm blankets
rather than beneath ice-crystal stars,
a haloed moon and a need to freeze
if only just to feel.
A winter day’s free write about winter nights.
It’s been four days
since the storm left
it’s two feet planted firmly
over the property,
standing there on the roof
and straddling the road.
And during that time,
it lost its serene demeanor,
aging with wrinkles, scars
and the spots that time
will paint on your skin.
But she who ordered the storm
to leave a guard on this realm
until told to stand down,
that is until the coming March,
has sent in a bit of reinforcement.
Silently, the new minion
fills the gaps in the line
left by a few days where
the sun made its counterattack.
And now, with two inches of reserves
softening the uglies
that follow an early snow,
all’s quiet on the northern front.
At least until, I’d suspect,
some ranks of sun and rain
make this army of white
run down my roof
for the storm drains.
I can wait until
This study in gray and white – the poem, not necessarily the photo – is the winter view I have from my writing desk in the basement – my Lair. It’s just a gray wooden shed with some pines and maples holding up the sky behind it. But when the snow decides to fall, it becomes something magical, where the dull and plain become something to write about. At least to me.
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.
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