Roofies

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On the Colonie Central School roofs, if the heat didn’t get you, the hilariously volatile combination of a barely post-pubescent prefrontal cortex, gushing teenage testosterone and vacuous flexion of maturing muscles might.

I worked a flat-roof replacement gig there one summer. Under the August sun, the viscous-but-no-longer-vicious erstwhile dinosaur I toted in that 40-pound bucket, could cost you dime-sized drops of epidermis if you got sloppy in your work. But to pour the new, you had to remove the old, scraping off post-fossilized roofing of solid tar-encased gravel.

I’d lug its strata to the eaves, where I lobbed it into a rollaway thirty feet below. I always made it a point to remind myself, “let go before you throw,” lest my proximity to summer sun above and all that empty air between me and terra firm below turn me into an 18-year-old Icarus, tarred, feathered, fallen and run out of the Town of Colonie on a gurney, not a rail.

The remuneration for this summer job sucked, but you couldn’t beat the shirt-off-all-day tans we boys carried back to school in September, along with a deeper appreciation of our language’s Anglo-Saxon roots.

I looked like burnished leather, save for those pink polka-dot reminders of why there are professionals who do that work and I’m the soft-handed dude from the literary profession relating my tar black on gravel white impressions of melting away one of my summers as an apprentice roofie.

And today, upon my middle-aged parchment of summer tan, I have the faded periods punctuating this tale to prove it.

Some hot sunny yard work Saturday unearthed the old hydrocarbon-induced erasures on my skin, like someone rubbed lead pencil upon my all-too-mature prefrontal lobe. I decided to write it down and share it before age washes these memories away, like so many others, through the holes in my brain’s now-leaky roof.

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Boxes

Box

Wrapped, sealed and bound, Photo by TACLUDA

Every morning in the dark before Today opens
the flaps of this box in which we lie,
stacked in its musty, dusty organization,
one atop the other, side by cardboard side,
I can hear birds. You can hear them, too,
if you awaken in that moment, or if you
never went to sleep in the first place,
everyone’s dreams nudging up against you
all night, whispering their prayers and curses.

You can hear the bird songs before Today
r-r-rips the tape off the wound that becomes
a chance to be chosen one of its toys,
to be spread on the floor, played with again,
bounced off the ceiling or wall.
I listen and think a hope of a dream maybe
I’ll get lucky and be misplaced this time,
slid under the bed or picked up and
liberated by the dog, before I’m put away again
in this box so carefully labeled Tomorrow.

Break Time

By Joseph Hesch 

Around here, the morning haze clears
by 9:00, but comes back around 10:00,
a man-made miasma returns, that is.
From my fifth floor window perch,
I see these fuming artistes
hanging their cloud portraits 
on the fronts of buildings across the street. 
In breathless summer heat
or brutal, breezy winter freeze,
they huddle together,
like business-dressed bums circling
a fire in an invisible 60-gallon drum,
a translucent gray pillar stretching above them.
And I shake my head in arrogant pity
at these poor addicted souls,
these weak-willed smoke suckers,
and sip from my fifth cup of coffee
since 7:00 o’clock this morning.