Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Tiny Terror

By Joseph Hesch

The skittering chill up my spine
doesn’t come from hoodoos, bogeymen,
bugbears or the night bumpers anymore.
I enjoy the company of darkness
in my bed at night,
and I walk these cracked sidewalks,
head held high, as I pass by 
their cracked denizens daily.
Expressing myself to others,
tens or thousands, no longer shakes me.
I’ve stared down disease, criminal intent,
the uncertainty of parenthood
and the whoosh-by of swift death.
But not much scares me so these days
as sitting with a frozen mind
in front of a snowy-white page.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Eve, the Day, the Joy

By Joseph Hesch

On the Eve and Day of Joy,
the presents were covered
in their smooth and sparkling raiment,
as were the trees and roads
in their fresh-snow greeting card grandeur.
Come the gathering, all those wrappings,
of packages and countryside,
were torn by child and adult,
each in their own way—
hand, scissor, sled, SUV. 
The magic was so quickly broken,
And what was smooth wonder
and sparkling mystery
the night before and at dawn,
had been torn, crumpled, stained
and rendered debris and nuisance
to everyone’s continued joy.
Moms and Dads near-curse the mess
of late-day. Kids ignore or revel in its chaos.
On Boxing Day the broken ugliness
of cold fact will be exposed.
Yet all will be forgotten with the advent
of a new year, a new hope,
a new anticipation
for the sleek magic of the Eve and
the Day we came together
and were joyously unbroken.

Monday, December 19, 2011

This Silent Night

By Joseph Hesch

Standing on the back porch,
11:39 PM on the 24th.
I’m cold and the chill air frosts
my nose and glasses. 
This is nothing new 

for a late December night,
but something’s different.
The wind chimes dingle-ding
just as they do in August. 
The trees sway and creak

as they did last month
and the months before that.
Perception stretching beyond

fading frame of consciousness,
maybe to snare hoped-for revelation,
I realize it isn't what I’m sensing
that's off. It’s what I’m not.

Over behind the big trees,
and the red-brick suburban bedsteads
lightly snoring smoke into the sky,
the normal hum and howl of
late-night on the Interstate
is absent.
I realize it’s because this is
That Night and travelers are safe

with their own, I hope.
And I want to stay here,
not travel another step,
to breathe in all this cold and quiet,
and breathe out crystaline clouds,
silent hymns of joy.
To be one with
this Silent Night.

Here's a little Christmas Eve poem that was inspired by standing on the same back step as my summer poem, "Illuminati." It's a true response I had to standing there waiting for my golden-haired semi-muse Mollie to do her thing (What else is new?) the late evening of December 24, 2009. Consider it my Christmas card to you, in thanks for the support you've given me in this first year of blogging poetry. I've linked "This Silent Night" up to dVerse Poets Pub for the crew's Open Link Night.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


By Joseph Hesch

Walking through the old neighborhood,
full of derelict buildings and derelict souls, 
my head down against the December wind, 
I spied the shiny bit of sidewalk flotsam,
an empty bottle whose ice-blue label read
Crystal Palace Vodka.
Diamonds of ice sparkled within,
survivors of this vessel’s manifest
before it ended up on the rocks
or straight to the bottom.
It reminded me of finding such empties 
of temporary anesthesia in my youth.
More often than not, they were green bottles 
the abandoned shells of Thunderbird wine.
These days it seems even the street alkies,
have gone big time, drinking the same hooch
as higher class drunks, only with no olive.

I kicked the bottle from my path, and found
even more change to these tippling times-- 
the Palace empty wasn’t crystal.
Rather, it was made of plastic.
Of course it was. 
As I and my reverie 
stalked further up the street,
we came upon another empty,
green like those old bottles of T-bird.
This one was a child’s mitten
perched on a snowpile.
I wasn’t sure if it was waving
hello to the new world
or goodbye to the old, 
so I put it in my pocket and 
together we escaped this one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Trip In

By Joseph Hesch

In winter, the commute’s the same,
but the trip is so different.
I drive these glazed donut highways,
clogged commuter arteries
that would give me a heart attack
if I let them, or if I had the heart
for all this anymore.
Headed east to work yesterday I could
barely make out the stop-and-go
chain gang of prisoners in our
four-wheel jail cells because of
the low aspect of Warden Winter's
bloodshot eye, with which I played
the staredown game.
Lost again. I always lose.

I could put the car in neutral
and still make it a couple of miles
before I would have to touch the wheel,
change my course from the
unnatural migration of which I am part.
Some birds are just like me,
they don’t migrate from this chill either.
I see them out my driver’s side window,
chains of starlings, shivering wing-to-wing,
stretching pole-to-pole --
roadside rosaries praying
for bread and a compass
that points south.

And now the final snowy flair
to a winter commute begins.
Flakes so big I can hear them
hit the window and so heavy
the trees will bow to their gravity,
their serious intent to remind me
who's really boss on my trip in.
This snow-light December
will turn into a bully soon enough,
snapping me awake to its will
with all the comfort of a white,
wet blanket whipped towel-like
to my bucket-seated backside.

If you know anything about me--real me and poet me--you know I have this love/hate relationship with winter and my workday world. Put them together and you come up with "The Trip In," this week's effort for dVerse Poets Pub's Open Link Night.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Twelvemonth's Tears

By Joseph Hesch

The December weather has edges
and sharp points, like a star 
atop the Christmas tree. 
When I inhale, the air feels 
of peppermint but the flavor
favors woodsmoke from
my neighbor's fireplace.
It's during these nights, 
under a stardust canopy 
and a searchlight moon,
my eyes sting and water a bit. 
Not sure if it's from the the cold, 
the smoke, or the need to 
sweep the cinders
of another year from them.
Or perhaps this year
it's to wipe the spillings
of an old year away to prepare
for a brighter new one.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Night Vision

By Joseph Hesch 

I sat up in bed last night,
drawing darkness around me
like a comforter.
It's okay, we've been sleeping together
for quite a while now.
There are times it sustained me,
as I pulled ever more of it
over my shoulders, or
greedily spooned it into me
until all of life’s color disappeared.
I wonder if you ever saw
my moon face gazing down on you
from the dark firmament
of your bedroom ceiling,
or maybe from your desk,
burning through your clouds
of doubt and fear. I see
your eyes from these perches,
sometimes fierce, sometimes sad,
always shining, either with spirit
or tears.
But this isn’t my light shining on you.
It’s your light and that of all the others
that I reflect back from a
miraculously polished sense of self.
And when, finally, I fully open my eyes, 
and pronounce myself present here,  
I expect your lights to nourish
this once-dark soul, for good and all.

Posting this poem for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. This week it's being presented by my lovely friend, Natasha Head. Why don't you check out some of the other folks who have come to hear Tasha sing behind the bar tonight?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hiding in Plain Sight II

By Joseph Hesch

I have reached a point at the final crest
of this autobiographic thrill ride,
before the long slow descent to its end,
where I can look back and see
how much of it I’ve missed
by being the close-eyed loner in this seat,
the dust-shrouded outsider,
the look-no-hands clown,
the genderless confidant. 
I realize my pioneering work in camouflaged,
hide-in-plain-sight isolationism
is today’s normal.
And all the other seats appear empty.

These new virtual hermits  
live in their in their cars and cubicles,
behind desks and counters,
and under the covers in thrall of TVs,
computers and smartphones. 
They hide behind avatars, masks and
sullen defenses so the real them
is kept undiscovered –-
a secret for their eyes only. 
If they even open them.

Now on my downhill glide, I’ve started to knock
some of those defenses down – my own and others.
Even if I never make that ultimate connection,
warm form to warm form,
I think the ride will be pretty splendid
in its own right, the bandwidth wind in my hair.
Of course, my greatest fear in this quest
is that I really am alone in this world
of click-to-connect friendships. 
Or worse, I’m just naïve enough
to think I'm not.