Tuesday, July 5, 2011


By Joseph Hesch

The tide is out way downstream
in the great harbor, so the reed-ringed
pool at riverside here is wading depth
for a single spindly-legged heron.
She picks her way around, slowly folding
her leg up then extending it to wakelessly
enter the water in a slow-motion
hunter’s march toward the center
of her soggy dining room. All the while
she searches mightily for crabs and shiners
in its strangely sheened shallows.

Her movements are hard-wired
through uncountable generations
of her kind for whom the Hudson
has been home and larder.
They all walked the same gyre as she,
striding toward the middle of the pool
in successively smaller circles,
as if attached to an ever-shortening string
winding ‘round a pole to its mid-pool end.
But an intruder has claimed the throne there,
and she nervously diverts her attention between it
and the scant dinner darting just beyond her reach.

Blue and broad-chested, the interloper
carries a scent familiar to her now, always
in the air but never so strong as today.
A darning needle hums through the heat,
as a barge glides by, its wake shaking
the outsider to life. Fearful, the natural hunter
beats its wings and surrenders to the leaking
fuel drum that scatters swirling rainbows
across the water and its venom to the
muddy bottom of this realm where once
ruled lean grey princes and princesses.


  1. This a gorgeous poem, if not a prize winning one..I love your description of the 'spindly legged heron', beautiful.

  2. this is beautiful joe...love the soggy dining room..and the spindly legged heron of course..

  3. ugh, great close...and a sad reality...you had me enthralled....excellent one shot

  4. beautiful description of a sad event. The assonance, consonance throughout well done.

  5. Tragic piece, with images and relations one will carry with them well after reading - absolutely beautiful descriptions held within though, carving out a sound and well-crafted sample of the poetic. Gripping tale, good sir.

  6. Wow this one really sucks the reader in and great ending with a reality unkind.

  7. The toll is ever rising for the self-centered life our species lives. For now other species pay it, but someday our own reckoning will come due--a beautiful and melancholy poem that will remain with me long after I leave this page.

  8. You have a wonderful way of painting your poetry and writing with such rich descriptions that put us in that moment, here with the heron, hearing the barge, smelling the smells of tidal pool, rusty metal and fuel, seeing the rainbow oil slick floating on the water. I love how you take us there with your words. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. Joe, there seems to be sadness at every stop I make tonight. My heart cries at the stunning images you paint, leading to a tragic ending, the helpless, unsuspecting victim. We've a number of cranes that frequent the muddy ol'banks of the river across the way, and they truly are regal, especially at sunset, when all that is seen of them is that graceful silhouette. You have touched this heart this evening...mind you, I seem to be in a pretty gushy mood, but this was wonderful. I promise to avoid my soapbox to let this work of magic speak for itself.

  10. Joe, this is language used in glorious fashion. I could see it, smell it, feel it. This is bravura work, My Friend.

  11. I almost felt like I let out a sigh at the end. Just lovely writing, really lovely :)

  12. this a mighty fine painting. beautiful imagery of a harsh reality.... excellent!!

  13. "A darning needle hums through the heat,
    as a barge glides by, its wake shaking
    the outsider to life. "

    Interest picture you've painted here.

  14. How lovely and sad. Loved the 'soggy dining room.' I just wish we could stop reading about this in the news.

  15. This is truly beautiful poetry, Joseph..
    I really like the descriptions and the metaphors.. they are genuinely effective..

  16. Really wonderful expression and imagery, the final stanza brings such light to our destruction. Beautiful write this week Joe! Hope you are well my friend ~ Rose

  17. You use the beauty of the words to describe the ugliness of the vent, suggesting there there is always hope and the possibility of redemption. Wonderful poem.

  18. Sad and gorgeously descriptive.