Two Poems from New York Poet, Joseph Hesch

Joseph Hesch
Joseph Hesch

“Each day I squeeze the contents of my heart over whatever expression I’m wearing & imprint it onto a notebook page–my version of St. Veronica’s veil.”



Forever My Muse

Has it been five years, or even six,
since we went on that final ride?
I think of it whenever I see that photo
of you and me sleeping, my head
on your shoulder and your patience
on full display. You were my muse.
And even though I’ve stopped
high-stepping over that place
in the carpet where you used to lay,
(I even found myself hurdling shadows
after the carpet was removed)
you have your way of coming back
to inspire some poem I didn’t know
I had within me. Like this morning,
when I found a golden Golden hair
shining in the back of a drawer
while I searched for something
I can’t recall now. It must have been
this poem. You knew I needed you.
You’ll always be my muse, just as I
will always be the man you led
toward art at the end of a leash.

I’ve been inspired to poetry by plenty of the natural world’s denizens. But none have led me to more of my art than my old dog Mollie. Yeah, it’s not every artist can say he had a high-class blonde inspire his greatest work…and mean it.

© 2019, poem and photograph, Joseph Hesch

The View From My Window

I see greens (a few) grays (a lot)
and shiny cars outside my window.
Duplex houses in varied earth tones
standing cheek by jowl
chain the cul-de-sac beneath
high, hazy clouds diluting
the morning blue sky.
That’s what I see.
That’s my view.
Yours would be different, even if,
right this instant, you sat
in this spot by my window.
You might see the tan patches
and brown mud splotches
where I see grass,
see the dirty pickup truck roll by,
the white sticks of winter’s
snow plow reflectors still standing
in doubt this Spring day will last.
But you wouldn’t see my view
unless I told you, and I wouldn’t see yours.
That’s why I like art,
almost any art.
It speaks the truth of the artist’s view
of her subject. And I can choose
to listen, read, observe, feel what
she says she does, as she does it.
Or I can turn away and
not pay attention to it at all.
Just as you can skip on by
my view from my side of this window,
the town, the country, the world.
And I can skip by yours.
I wish life was more like that.
I don’t necessarily need to hear
if you do.

© 2019, poem and photograph, Joseph Hesch

JOSEPH HESCH (A Thing for Words) lives in a beautiful region, upstate New York, at the confluence of my own beloved Hudson River and the Mohawk River.  It’s a nice setting for a poet. Joe was a professional writer for forty years. Post-retirement finds him doing writing that is more creative – poetry and fiction – with publication in quite a number of magazines, literary journals and an anthology here and there. He has self-published two collections of poetry. Joe is also a member of The BeZine core team of contributing writers and his poems and flash fiction are regularly feature in the Zine. He has been featured several time in The Poet by Day.

Joe’s two published collections are Penumbra, The Space Between and One Hundred Beats a Minutes. Both are available as Kindle books and if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can download them as part of your membership.  You’ll also find his work in anthologies including: Signal from Static and Petrichor Rising. Joe’s Amazon Page is HERE.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
“Over His Morning Coffee,” Front Porch Review

A homebound writer, poet, and former columnist and associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, an info hub for poets and writers and am the founding/managing editor of The BeZine.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton



 

Ramble Tramble … a BeAttitude from poet and writer, Joseph Hesch

Joseph Hesch
Joseph Hesch

“Each day I squeeze the contents of my heart over whatever expression I’m wearing & imprint it onto a notebook page–my version of St. Veronica’s veil.”

Joseph Hesch (A Thing for Words) lives in a beautiful region, upstate New York, at the confluence of my own beloved Hudson River and the Mohawk River.  It’s a fine setting for a poet.

This is a prequel to this month’s The BeZineIt’s on theme by a slender thread but profoundly supports the core objective of the Zine, which is to recognize that “other” isn’t other at all and to respect and honor all humanity. Enjoy! … and visit The BeZine on the 15th for our November edition, HUNGER, POVERTY AND THE WORKING CLASS AS SLAVE LABOR. Read more about our core-team member,Joseph Hesch, HERE.



When you’re in the middle of it, living and learning, learning about living, living as a means of learning, you don’t notice how you might be different from (or the same as) some guys across the ocean or across the room. You don’t notice much about anything but what’s inside the three inches of air surrounding your body.

They are Them, There, Then. You are You, Here, Now. Context is but a ghost, barely a specter of a concept through which you  your place in a wider world. You accept ideas, tenets, the virtual castle walls within which you secure your position as the center of the Universe. You don’t question. God just IS, He is a He and you need to toe his line in order to win the lovely parting gifts they hand you for completing the Home version of this dicey Game of Life.

The other day, I asked myself not only who I am, but what, forcing myself to look beyond myself as this sack of meat, its spark of intellectual and essential energy and the possessor of opposing thumbs that answers to Joseph, Joe, Joey and any of a hundred or so discrete alphanumeric identifiers that differentiate me from you. And you and you, as well.

I saw such a small thing, a cluster of cells both good and ill, beneficial and malignant, functional and inert, held modestly upright by some universally accepted beliefs that inherently make me superior to so much of the rest of the inhabitants of this blue marble upon which we stand as it falls, rises, or circles in the vastness of the Universe.

And so much of what I see is just a matter of dumb luck, some bit of kismet that Valentine met Maria and Patrick loved Lizzy and they all somehow decided to leave their homes in Europe to come to this coast-to-coast set of geographic coordinates that may make this the most varied and valuable piece of real estate on the planet. They came to this place where people can be free to become the monarchs of their own existence. Here in this nation established upon the premise that all men are created equal.

Except, of course, if you were on the wrong end of our “peculiar institution,” where white men owned black men who did the physical labor that either built or buttressed the Whites’ socioeconomic standing. And that sin was committed even in my hometown, tucked up here in the upper right corner of your map, which is the oldest chartered municipality in the country.

And also except if you were a member of the class of original inhabitants of this breadth of the continent. Then you were crushed in the essentially forgotten, if considered at all, dirty little secret of American’s Manifest Destiny, which included eviction, subjugation, military intimidation, interdiction and an open-air type of incarceration. And, quite often, our Euro-America’s God-blessed version of the final solution to the “Indian problem,” eradication.

Which brings us rambling back to my original premise. When you are so busy trying to make it from First to Twelfth Grade, from freshly minted believer to elder keeper of whatever Word you follow, from allowance grabber to worker bee and then retirement check-cashing senior, you don’t think of these things. You pretty much have to live within your insulated little castle keep, those walls of ideas and ideals I spoke of before.

It’s human nature. Self-preservation, self-centeredness, selfishness, maybe even a selective selflessness, draw blinders around us from which we might occasionally sneak a peek outside ourselves. Then we pull our heads back within the silken bonds of our own spiritual and intellectual cells. There in the comforting darkness we see house-of-mirrors reflections of ourselves, warm and fuzzy, clean and bright, dark and angry, volatile and violent. And we accept them or reject them with but a blink, a wink or a meditative, prayerful closing of the eyes.

Please forgive me this tedious ramble. I’ve been reading again, something I haven’t done as much as when I was younger. Back then it was hardcore youthful inquisitiveness, feeding the insatiable intellectual beast as much trivia, possibly necessary minutiae and winning team history it could take. Now, it’s my own version of sticking this silver-pated gourd out of the dusty crust of virtual Hesch topography to see what I missed. In my old age I’ve become another type of Self-something. Self-aware. It’s embarrassing and painful, yet somehow freeing.

I see the mistakes, poor judgments and failures I’ve made. I see the victories, loves and lucky guesses, too. On electronic and physical pages I’ve cast them out there like stars across a desert sky. And now I see how they tell stories and give necessary direction, even if I have almost reached my ultimate destination.

I just thought I’d pass this on to you, since you’re traveling that way, Slán abhaile.  Auf wiedersehen.  Safe travels.  Ramble Tamble. Down the road I go.

This started its life as a poem, then grew like some good ol’ southern kudzu, spilling all around the page, seemingly taking over everything from my writing hand to better judgment. By the way, Ramble Tamble is the title of the first cut on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s  classic 1970 album, Cosmo’s Factory. It’s one of the rockingest songs I know, a great road song and might be as good a fit for our current times as it was for my youth.

© 2017, essay and photograph, Joseph Hesch.


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

 

POET & WRITER, JOSEPH HESCH … not working for “the man,” finding poetic voice at 55

Joseph Hesch
Joseph Hesch

“Each day I squeeze the contents of my heart over whatever expression I’m wearing & imprint it onto a notebook page–my version of St. Veronica’s veil.”

Joseph Hesch (A Thing for Words) lives in a beautiful region, upstate New York, at the confluence of my own beloved Hudson River and the Mohawk River.  It’s a nice setting for a poet.

Joe was a professional writer for forty years. Post-retirement finds him doing writing that is more creative – poetry and fiction – with publication in quite a number of magazines, literary journals and an anthology here and there. He has self-published two collections of poetry. Joe is also a member of The BeZine core team of contributing writers and his poems and flash fiction are featured in the zine just about every month.

JAMIE: Joe, I know you worked as a journalist for a good part of your life.  Did you also write poetry or did you come to it late? What’s it like now that you are not working for “the man?”

JOE: Journalist or hired typewriter and gum-flapper for Skidmore College, a three-state professional organization or the State of New York over my 40-plus years in the working world. And no, I definitely was not writing poetry until I reached the age of 55. Not in high school, college nor when I was a professional writer.

A pretty miraculous recovery from a heart condition let me know each day is a blessing not to be wasted. I decided I’d best hurry and let the writer’s heart I thought I had within me live again.

I started to write sassy essays that I shared with friends. Then I wrote a bit of memoir one afternoon about my childhood Christmases. I took a chance and it was accepted for publication in a Christmas anthology. I continued to write for the discoveries I was making in myself and my world. And then everything stopped. Absolutely dead in the water. I’d run out of those easily reached ideas and emotions. I didn’t know what to do.

A friend told me my prose always sounded quite poetic to her. “Why don’t you write a poem?” she said. So I started out with the 5-7-5 structured hug of haiku. Then I wrote a poem about not being able to write anymore, stringing together those five-and-seven-syllable lines. She suggested I submit it to some journals. I did and it was accepted for publication. Poetry had recharged my life machine and  put me back in the world as a writer.

I never wanted to be a poet. Never wrote a poem in my life before those haiku. I consider myself a storyteller. You could say my poems are stories with the sentences broken into bite-sized pieces, stacked like crackers. But I’ve discovered more about myself as an emotional being, as a feeling man since I began to write poetry than I could have imagined in fifty-some years on this Earth. So, about no longer writing for the man? They can’t pay you enough in any job to learn the discoveries I have as a poet.

JAMIE: Tell us about your two collections.Do you have plans for another? If so, what would be the theme.

41MhSiONWBL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_JOE: Oh, thanks for asking. Yes, I have two collections available on amazon.com. The first, Penumbra: The Space Between, I put together in 2014. I guess you could say it’s my coming-out as a poet in middle age. I hope I expressed my impressions on life and nature from the view of a man emerging from years of darkness into a brighter personal and artistic existence, standing astride middle age. Neither young nor old, still peering at things from the edge of shadow and light, the penumbra. I’m kinda proud of it as a first effort.

51thPS3WjdL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_In my second collection, One Hundred Beats A Minute, I hope to convey impressions and imaginings of life, love, art, nature and what I see outside or inside the swirly-glassed windows of my soul. All of its sixty poems, the number of seconds in a minute, are bound within the frame of one hundred words. No wiggle room, exactly one hundred, or my obsessive mind gets all edgy. When I succeeded at hitting 100 and putting that final period on the page, where my obsession met compulsion and life met art, I squirmed in my seat, my knees and heels tended to flutter up and down from the floor and my heart beat like I’d just run a sprint of a hundred meters. I hope readers can experience that feeling here and there in this collection, too.

My next collection? I haven’t thought very hard about anything yet. However, I have thought for long time about putting together a collection of my short stories and flash fiction. Already have the title, the title of my first short story after I began writing for myself again—But Don’t Touch, as in “You can look, but…” So many of my stories are the opposite of my poetry. Many seem to have the theme of men who have problems reaching out to or accepting intimacy, whether it be carnal or merely the simple warm touch of another’s hand.

576752_311773988900360_1000273563_n

“Writer and poet who’s spent decades writing for The Man. Still do. Except now I’M the man.”

JAMIE: What sorts of poetic activities do you participate in and why?

JOE: Not many, and I feel badly about that. But when I go out to read to other writers, I just don’t feel a sense that I belong. Never have. Nevertheless, for the past four or five years, I’ve read at the Albany Word Fest Open Mic that the Albany Poets group holds during April for National Poetry Month. I’ve also run up the Adirondack Northway to read at the legendary Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs. That’s an interesting feeling, reading your poetry where Bob Dylan made his bones as a poet in song. But I don’t get out enough to share my work with others. Maybe I’m shy that way. Or maybe just lazy, other than writing something for someone, only lately myself, every day for the past 40 years.

JAMIE: Why is poetry important to you and why should it be important to us?

JOE: Wow, that’s a big one. I guess it merits a big answer, then. Simply put, poetry, my finding poetry as an outlet for my long dormant creative self, helped save my life, most certainly the quality of it. I don’t know how long I could go on wandering in that vast desert of empty when I knew I was supposed to do something creative to fulfill myself.

Beyond that, though, I like to think poetry holds up a mirror, sometimes cracked and refracting, others with a soul-illuminating clarity, to who we are as individuals, families, communities, nations, a world. They can bring us the great Ahh moment, as well as the Ahh-Hah! And most of the time goes for the writer—at least this one—as well as the reader.

IN THE ROOM

Here in the room the breaths come
maybe every ten seconds apart,
snoring sounds from a mouth agape,
now voiceless, beneath eyes mostly closed,
but probably unseeing.
She doesn’t hear the talk in the room.
We think. We hope.

Above the bed, a little plastic bag
of morphine perches like blessed fruit
from a swirly silver branch atop
the six-wheeled tree they’ll roll
out of the room whenever her spirit does.

Here in the room we watch, we wait,
hearing only the sounds of the family,
of the bubbling O2 humidifier,
the beeps of monitors and machines,
the murmurs and shoe-squeaks from staff
in the hallway on the fifth floor
as the hospital awakens this morning.

And punctuating it all come
the snorting gasps of a life dwindling away
every ten–no, fifteen–seconds.
We think. God help her, we hope.

– Joseph Hesch

© words, poem, portraits, cover art, Joseph Hesch