Monday, October 31, 2011

Perchance to Dream

By Joseph Hesch

It’s so dark here each night, waiting for
the memorable flight to fantasy,
the fears or thrills that you may have,
but I almost never do. I lay in this bed
with my itinerary made of today’s regrets
and tomorrow’s dread,
dreaming of being able to dream.
It’s like groping in the dark for a shadow,
something I can’t see or feel,
but I know is there, if only I …

I will slip into the black depths of sleep,
a struggling shipwrecked sailor going under,
only to open my eyes to another awakened darkness
hours later, taunted by a clock that shows
I missed rescue once again.
But last night, before I sank back
to the nothing that is my slumber,
this vacuum of fancy, I once more pleaded
with the universe for colorful release.

As I was about to surrender once again
to the vacant sleeping dark, an angel appeared
and beckoned me to join her,
tucking beneath her wing of white .
“Here,” she whispered in my ear,
“hold me and be mindful of now,
not yesterday, not tomorrow. Feel my warmth,
and drop your baggage. You won’t need it
where we’re going.”

I never knew my gloom could transform
into a world of such light and color,
such sound and feeling, such heart-lifting joy.
But it did.
When I awoke, I saw dawn in a light so new,
it might as well be approaching from the west.
Tonight, I will leave the dreary day at the door,
I will root fearsome tomorrow from under my bed,
and I will prepare for my angel to join me
in our dream.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Over the Top

By Joseph Hesch

She always had a problem 
with how he tended to over-think, 
over-do, over-reach, 
over-react, over-analyze, 
So, because he loved her so very, very much, 
he tried to change, a total make-over.
He tried to become like he saw her, 
accepting things as they came,
not sweating the small stuff. 
Something he wasn't, really.
He beat himself nearly senseless 
to overcome his obsession
to make a big deal over every
little thing in his life. 
he was perplexed by the how or why, he
underestimated how much 
he’d changed to be the guy 
he thought she wanted.
That’s why he never fully
understood what to do, 
when she said,
“We're so over.”

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Backstage at The Firmament

By Joseph Hesch

Come the Fall, the sky grows wider,
blacker, starrier as each night
the trees undress and become skinnier,
like movie starlets
trying to make a name for themselves
above some blockbuster's title.
I become smaller now, a bit less significant
against the ever more vast darkness.
If that net of stars should drop
upon the now-drowsy Earth,
I bet I could slip through it and
peek backstage at The Firmament,
catching angels and gods in dishabille,
like the maples and starlets,
their wings and auras hanging from hooks
fashioned from mortal prayers
for another good harvest
or more nights like this.

Image: EQUINOX, by Alison Jardine

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nodding Dream

By Joseph Hesch.

I used to march these rooms half the night, 
their blackness the only thing holding me 
on an eyeless path I traced, hand outstretched, 
sweeping for walls that I knew were there 
and for barriers that really weren't.
Even counting my steps, I never quite learned 
where to stop before the crash, 
before the sparks would light up my mind 
but never my vision.

Maybe I was searching for you there, 
your brilliance still over the horizon, 
not measured in lumens, but in heartbeats, 
plunked like strings on a violin, 
marking time until you found me, 
stumbling, mumbling through my jagged nights. 

In this darkness you were surer in your steps, 
sure my outstretched hand all that time
was there for you to hold.
And now so connected, where might we go? 
Are the maps already drawn?
Or will we explore the world
carried by the words we let drift 
in streams like ink, running black 
to the oceans of other hearts?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Act of Contrition

By Joseph Hesch

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.
I don't know how long it's been
since my last confession, least to a priest.
I must have sinned, because I feel
so guilty, like I'm a bad person,
despite what my shrink says.
You told me not to tell, that no one
would believe me and, besides,
what you did was an expression of love.
Yeah, that's what you told me.

Don't you remember, Father? I was eleven
and you asked me to serve the 7:00 o’clock
all alone. You said you thought I was ready.
Just you and me. Partners, you said.
Afterwards, you put your arm
around my shoulder and told me
what a good boy I was.
You asked if I would like to get out of class
to help you do those funerals,
ride to the cemetery with you and
hold your Holy Water wand.
Remember? That's what you called it.
Teaching me what you said a young man
without a dad needed to know.

No, wait, I want you to hear my confession
because I got really bad after you told me
you didn't think I needed you
to "mentor" me anymore. You found a new boy.
You left the parish all of a sudden
when they said you got sick and had to go
to New Mexico to get better.
And now you're back. Are you better?
I wish I could get better.

The doctors tell me it'll take a while
to get well, that the pain and guilt and
confusion may go away after I confront
my problems and realize they weren't really
my fault.
My fault.
I was the one who kept coming back,
who did those things you said were okay,
who hurt all those people -- Mom, my girlfriends,
my ex-wife and my kid.

Heads-up, Father, 'cause I've been having
these impure thoughts and I don't want to die
with them on my conscience.
Not that kind of impure. Taking a life impure.
Really? You're absolving me?
Who absolves you?
Is God going to forgive you your sins?
Because I don't.
My name? You mean which one am I?
You'll find out when the cops
come to hose out the confessional
and find the note on my body.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for this sinner and at the hour of my death.


A little late, but I decided to post this lengthy bit of writing I did Saturday night in response to the prompt proffered by Sheila Moore and Kellie Elmore for dVerse Poets Pub's Poetics feature Taboo Subjects: How to be Fearless and Nothing Less. The prompt was to write a poem on a subject without censoring your pen for the sake of status, personal opinion and/or judgment. Not sure why, but this long beast happened. Terrible subject that's gotten closer to the surface of me. Don't wish to represent myself as a survivor. I'm not. But i know a couple, just as i've known (up close) a couple of the perpetrators. Nevertheless, I wrote it and put it away, not editing it, not planning to post it. But I was convinced to do it Monday morning. And now I'll share it with the poets at dVerse's Open Link Night, which I'm hosting this week.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Answer

By Joseph Hesch

Outside, early morning, mid-December
and the howling wind is strumming a
C-chord through the trees.
Even above that din, I hear
the familiar tones overhead.

There, moving in a diagonal,
like a sidewinder snaking south,
or a streamer of mercury sliding across
a wobbly zinc tabletop,
are half a hundred Canada geese.

And I shiver. Not because of the wind
and December's cold, but because
the unspeaking natural world had
once again addressed a question
I hadn't even known I was asking.

The question I couldn't
speak or write is answered across
the December sky in that language
without words, the one that speaks
more truth than that of Man:
It's never too late.

As I was working outside the other day, I heard in the distance something I used to not hear until it was just above my head (if at all). There, in ragged V winging south, was the first company of migrating Canada Geese I'd seen this Fall. I'm not sure why, but that incessant honking sound, some overlapping the others as if they were sound shadows, stirs some visceral response in me. I feel somehow energized and inspired. And so I was this time. Seeing them put me in mind of another group I had seen last year. I write about those travelers here.

This Boy's Life

By Joseph Hesch

I took a walk by myself yesterday
and recalled how much I always loved
just walking and watching. 
"Woolgathering," Grandma called it.
"You're wasting time, little boy," she'd preach.
Years and years of it have reaped me a lot of wool,
or maybe just the dust of memories by now.

An ancient tree in the park caught my attention.
It knew I was coming; its limbs waved me down.
And on the edge of the yawning mouth
in the tree's face—a gash big enough
for a bear to hide in—
rose an impudent squirrel.
He hurled me a lesson full of sound and
fury on behalf of his silent old host,
a fiery flicking tongue testifying there's some life
left in the old boy, and chit-chitting his pride
that he's a big piece of it.

That's when I realized how much I loved my
walks and secret conversations with the world.
I don't feel like I've wasted all of those memories.
I carry their dust in my bones, I'm sure.
They just need to be reconstituted
by fresh perspective and the miracle voices.
Now I collect them, commit them to paper,
and share them with the nascent me,
that fiery, furry—or is it wooly?—
young poem maker who
resides inside this dry old hide. 

Photo by Ruban Phukan

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Haiku and Senryu 1


Rosy eye closing
beneath purple and red lids–
Fall’s bruised horizon.

As the oak leaves turn,
Nature orders, “Curtain up”–
cue this year’s third act.

Blackbirds harry Hawk 
from their leaf-bare maple home.
Hawk humors them though.

Eyes watch in hiding 
as we walk through red forest;
they fear us; we, them. 

The searchlight full moon
wore a veil of windblown cloud—
a November bride

Chains of starlings stretch,
shivering, from pole to pole—
roadside rosaries

Wind carries the cry
 of coyotes' prey brought down:
White doe runs away.


His locked box opened,

she gave flame to his desire—
scarring a true heart.

“I’ll never hurt you,”
Angel carved into his heart –
A promise unkept.

“I’d never do that,”
The angel professed to me –
They all do, in time.

Gratefully, I taste
her Chinese tea and oranges –
Not Suzanne, but close.

In whose image, first,
was the other created—
Man’s god or God’s man?

Hot coffee and gin 
kept him warm every night. 
Anger kept him hot.

Over at dVerse Poets Pub today, my friend Gay Reiser Cannon is discussing poetry forms. She's a treasure house of poetry form knowledge, often beyond my skills. But today she is discussing the form with which I started my journey as what might be called a poet.  That is the Japanese short form style of haiku and senryu.  I've called it writing inside a warm, tight hug. After argued with myself for a while (a frequent exercise that I inevitably lose, one way or another) if I should post any of them on the blog, Gay helped me decide once and for all.  I'll love playing at this form until I can't breathe on a page anymore. That's what they are, my small poetic respirations, how I start each day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


By Joseph Hesch

Too long, I’ve worn delusion as a hood
covering my better judgment, when,
time and again, I tortured myself
with chains of baseless obsessions.
Sense of duty, senseless mooning,
all cloaked in claustrophobic darkness
where, if some small ray of truth leaked in,
I willingly closed my eyes to accept
my next bruising lesson in Life.
I wish I could find that hand,
the one I could trust to lift this hood,
leading me to daylight, instead of
coming down upon it again and again,
beating the emotional daylights out of me.
I’m willing to crack open my eyes
and extend to you my hand in something more
than its defensive or aggressive attitude,
but only if you promise never to use yours
upon me while my back is turned.
Or are you another of my delusions?

Another study of the lonely, those fearful of the light of truth or so deep in the well of depression that all they think they have to comfort them wrapping themselves in more darkness. Heliophobia is my post this week for dVerse Poets Pub's Open Mike Night. Check it out and see what all the joyous noise is about.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dark Lie

By Joseph Hesch

I stopped trying to be who
the world always wanted me to be—
pliant, compliant, the good boy,
and the better man.
With age I see why
I’ve hated the effort I made
to color within everyone else’s lines.
Inside, I’m trying to be
cold and dark and
-- just to be me --
I keep all those beans
we’re supposed to count
in alphabetic order.
This is my life, my obsession,
and I’ll keep it the way that I want.
That’s who I am, for better or worse.
No partners, no bliss, self-service.
Deal with it.

Oh, excuse me, did you drop this?