Monday, July 25, 2011


By Joseph Hesch

I’m sitting between parallels
of To and From, perched here with
the sunlit Hudson glaring in my face
and the Interstate blaring at my back.
The smell of one hundred trucks is
echoed by that smoky tug pushing
a barge upriver to the locks, and
the silver Amtrak flyer hoots
"Goodbye, Albany," across the water,
on its way down to New York City.
As I wave adieu to the forty suns
reflected on its chain of windows,
I realize these arteries of Man's mobility
have a common theme –
they run only North to South
and back again. How mobile is that?
The answer comes when I see
a cormorant lift from the river,
wings dripping sundrops on the chop,
and loop away – not quite west.

Another Day

By Joseph Hesch

The new sun flashes
above the horizon and,
with an autonomic blink,
another of my days goes by.
Sometimes they're
a little slower, though.
Maybe long enough to close
my eyes and count off
a prayer:
"Give me this day
my daily breath.
Oh, and let it lead me—
just a little—
into temptation,
and we’ll worry about
my trespasses later.
Thanks. Amen."
Then I crack my eyes open
and try to remember
what I've done with this breath,
as I see that another transit
of sun-across-sky is complete
and I understand I'm
one more such arc,
one more blessed respiration,
toward my completeness.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Days These Days

By Joseph Hesch

My days these days go by like eyeblinks.
Oops, there went another one.
It’s not that there’s a whole lot
happening during those between-blinks.
In fact barely anything occurs at all,
unless you like the flashing sameness
of unedited time-lapse photography
in an empty bedroom. Sun pours
through the window and seeps across
a tan percale bedspread, illuminating
an open, half-vacant closet.
Eventually, everything goes
altogether black, the sun so bored
it takes its business
around the planetary corner.
Maybe I sleep so poorly,
awakening too many times at night,
because I worry if this is all
I’ll ever see again—darkness.
Come dawn, I blink the night
from my eyes, counting up  
even more days I've wasted,
worrying about wasting
my days these days.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Day-to-Day Limited

By Joseph Hesch

The twenty-somethings asked me,
"These bills, how did we earn them...when?
Where has the time gone?"
Call me in twenty years, youngsters,
should I survive that long to accept your call.
You'll have earned a few of those answers then.
Now, though, your lives move too fast,
like trains hurtling past one another
on tracks an arm’s length apart.

You know those are windows across from you,
but there's no way you can recognize anyone
sitting there, maybe sucking on a Red Bull,
wishing he or she was still in bed
bumped up against--or bumping up against--
that warm form in the portside sheets.
You just see a whoosh of silver-gray
flashing its own sheets of strobe-light
what-ifs and maybes. And you try not to look
too hard at it because it just ends up
hurting your eyes and sometimes your heart.

So you keep your head down,
keep trundling forward,
occasionally gasping up for a breath
and a look-see at where you are.
At your age, it’s hardly ever
to see where you're going.
If you're lucky, someday
somebody will tap you on the shoulder
and tell you it's okay to step off.
You've reached "there."
Problem is, is this going to be the "there"
you were expecting when you boarded?

When they left me, I pulled out my “Leaves,”
and thought: Cloud-whiskered Walt,
make me feel that young and special again,
you blessed old dreamer you.
I need your wisdom and winsome words
more than ever. We all do. Lift me
from this dark platform.
That's the motion I wish to feel
in my body electric.
I have my ticket and I'm listening
for your robust
"All aboard!"

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Like Father, Like Son

By Joseph Hesch

I'm not my Dad, the first Joe.
I can't build you a castle, a house,
or even a box. Wood and nails are
as alien to my being as those
half-gestated Asian duck eggs.
Can't scramble them, bake them in a cake,
or choke them down in any form.
I know my limitations, and carpentry,
auto mechanics and such gifts are
nice dreams for this smooth-handed
Old-American male,
but are as within my grasp as
walking the moon, dunking a basketball,
or entanglement in the warm limbs
of Ashley Judd.
But I can build houses and castles
and worlds out of words. Some even
look pretty true and square.
There are times I wonder if Dad
would have been as proud of my skills
as I always was of his.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sharing Memories

By Joseph Hesch

Years of memories
recalled on these printed pages,
sharing thoughts thought lost,
you all learn too much of me
while I learn more of myself

Almost exactly five months ago, right after I broke the bottle over the bow of this digital ship of verse and such, I wrote my first poem for consumption of the One Stop Poetry audience. It was Japanese tanka with a Valentine's Day theme. Well, for me it was.

Thought I'd revisit that form, as we have just passed the one-year anniversary for One Stop and we say au revoir to a clutch of friends I made there.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Love Song in the Dark

By Joseph Hesch

The blond at the white piano in this bar
is singing what she called
a different kind of love song
and she’s singing the truth.
I know it. I can really feel it through
the beer and the darkness.
This one is different from
every other love song because
she wrote it and she’s singing it—
there in that dim blue cone of light—
she's singing it just for me.
I don’t even know her name,
but she’s stared at me all the while
she’s been playing, even clamming a few notes
because I'm such a distraction and
you know I’m the target
of the arrow of her soul,
her heart, her song.
OUR song.
I’m sure I am.
Another here, buddy.
Would you just look at her,
would you listen to her.
And now she’s finished, and as I
smooth my way around this mumbly crowd to
introduce myself and pledge my troth,
I notice the white stick on the floor
next to her bench,
and I’m glad of all she's reminded me
about Love — artful Love, dream Love,
her Love, my Love, our Love —
how Love is blind, too.
Such a great thing, you know?

Reluctant Poet

By Joseph Hesch

Reading my silly scribblings?  Out loud?
To people?  Besides the ones in my head?
Oh, no.  That’s the reason
I didn’t want to write poetry
in the first place.
Too personal.  Too revealing of stuff
I shouldn’t share with strangers
or even people close to me.

Too “naked-from-the-waist-down,
redfaced, hyperbolized" honesty for me.

Too “hold-me-while-express-myself-
and who-could-possibly-care-anyway?”
for anybody.  

Especially late-night
rowdy revelling recorders and
receivers of repetitive readings
requiring lots and lots of listening
to lame alliterative lines.
If you show me yours, baby,
I'll you show you mine.
So…um, where do I sign?

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.

Lithography - A Cinquain

are sculpted words
hammered out of feelings
on the soft workbench in my heart
of stone.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Little One

By Joseph Hesch

I don’t know if I’m jealous
(well, not of her, just her way,)
but I’ve come to admire some
of how she moves through her life.
It’s as if she’s driving at night,
seeing only what her headlights reveal
of the road ahead, maybe
a little of the shoulder,
and mostly it’s on low beams.
She says it’s all she needs, since
she threw out her mirrors.
“Don’t need to look back at what I
already saw,” she told me once.
Oh, sure, there have been times when
she’s hit potholes, possums, and
broken glass, even slid off the
roadside a once or twice.
Doesn’t stop her, though; she just
turns her wheels back toward
“Out There,” and maybe flips on the
high beams and steps on the
gas a little harder for a mile.
She says she’s not in any
hurry to get anywhere.
The fun of life is in the
getting, the Little One feels.
Maybe that’s what I admire.