Friday, November 10, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This

Surge et Carpe Diem

The daylight times feel
so short now, and sleep
holds never more than
a handful of hours.
Life runs away like that
for the old man whose spirit
sees no age in him,
but whose body stabs him
to wakefulness along
the dark trail to morning.
It drops him without warning
into a drowsy torpor while
daylight, who knew him
so well, still calls
from the window
to come out and play.
He ponders where the
remaining shards of each day go,
as if they’re hiding in the pocket
of some thief of latter days.
He realizes no one stole
these missing heartbeats,
these warm knowing gazes,
these potential walks and talks,
these stories left untold.
He’s the one who lost them
to another sunset and he’s
the only one who can steal them
back from each new dawn,
if he’d let his ageless self
rise and seize this day.

– Joseph Hesch

Joseph Hesch is a writer and poet from Albany, New York. His work appears or is forthcoming in over a dozen venues, including Cossack Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Downtown Los Angeles Life Magazine, Frontier Tales and Pine Hills Review. His poetry collections, "Penumbra: The Space Between" and "One Hundred Beats a Minute" are available on

He tells me he’s currently working on his first collection of short stories and flash fiction set in the American Frontier, as well as another collection of stories tentatively titled "But Don't Touch."

I first encountered his work via the poetic community dVerse, which I think most of you know, on his blog A Thing for Words – a distinctive voice which held its own among many excellent poets.

His personal story about being a writer is on his blog too, and he has given me permission to share it here, in full or excerpted. I think his way of telling it is so engaging that I wouldn't dream of leaving anything out:

I'm a writer. That's what I do. It's what I've always done. And I've been doing it for a living since I was 20 years old. That's a long time ago.

All that time, I've been writing for The Man, the boss, putting others' words on paper or my words in others' mouths. For almost 30 years, I wrote the equivalent of grey government cheese for zero benefit for my heart and soul.

Ten years ago, an out-of-the-blue heart condition informed me that each day is a blessing not to be wasted because you may not get a tomorrow. Part of that waste was denying the Writer within me the room to breathe fresh air instead of the climate-controlled breeze wafting over my office cubicle. Near-death experiences can do that to you.

I started to write for me. Mostly sassy essays that I shared with friends around the USA. Then I knocked off a bit of memoir at my kitchen table one afternoon about the Christmases of my childhood. I submitted it to a publisher who was putting together a Christmas anthology and it was accepted for publication. 

So I continued to write, for the discoveries I was making in myself and the world I'd ignored for the previous decades. And then everything stopped.

I can't call it writer's block. I had lost that feeling of creating something tangible from sense and memory. It hurts when that happens.

A dear friend noted that my prose always sounded quite poetic to her. "Why don't you write a poem?" she said. In desperation, I did as she asked. I started out with the 5-7-5 structured hug of haiku. 

I then wrote a poem about not being able to write anymore, stringing together those syllabic steps. She suggested I share it with some other folks. They suggested I share it with some literary journals, which I did.

It was accepted for publication. As was the next poem. The poetry recharged my fiction machine and I was back in business as a writer. But this time I was really writing for me. Or I guess I was just really writing.

And here we all are.

So now I write now almost every day. Some days it's poetry and others it's stories. Very little of it is revised. I blame my newspaper roots. Write it, hand it over and move on. It’s not mine anymore. It’s yours.

He also posts poems on facebook, which is where I first saw the one I've chosen. I like the simultaneously serious and humorous reflection on ageing, and particularly the mention of the 'ageless self' which, I like to think, lives within us all. He describes the piece as a 'morning scribble' which he wrote 'literally in 20 minutes after getting out of bed one morning'.

20 minutes! Joe is a very nice fellow, but there are moments when I could almost get to dislike him (lol, j/k). But then he disarms me by describing himself as 'the 
semi-geriatric poet and teller of tales that I hope move readers in some positive way'. What a great motive! And yes, very positive. Always a pleasure to read.

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.


  1. This poem speaks to me. I wish I had written it!
    I am also "the old man whose spirit
    sees no age in him,
    but whose body stabs him
    to wakefulness"
    Every word is true and I am so happy to see Joseph here. He's one of the many powerful writers from dVerse that I miss as I accept less and less challenges. And thus, this poem speaks to me!

  2. I so resonate with the poem, as time FLIES by for me, now.......and I, too, love Joe's mention of ther ageless self. Who is still in there. I dont revise my work either, though it could benefit from more attention. It is interesting to me that Joe mentions his experience as a newspaper reporter for this trait. I was a reporter too, and totally am of the write it and move on, it's not mine now, it's yours, school of thought. I forget my poems after I write them and happen upon them years later in astonishment. LOL. Thanks for this, Rosemary. I love Joe's work.

    1. I think journalism can be great training for poets. Not that I ever was one, but I know some – and it seems to hone their gift for brevity and succinctness.

  3. I concur this poem definitely speaks to me too....and his work is new to me so thanks for highlighting him here....he lives 2 hrs away from me in our capital.

    1. Wow, I wonder if he reads at open mics. It would be amazing to hear him live.

  4. Thanks, Rosemary. I like his writing, and hope to read more of it.

  5. I like his idea of writing for himself....writing, handing it over, and moving on! I really think sometimes the best 'writes' are those that come from the heart and are not reworked and reworked into literary boredom!

  6. A wonderful share. I was intrigued by the story behind his journey back to writing. And the poem was great - as you say,
    'serious and humorous' ... that is so-o-o engaging when it is done as well as this is.

  7. Thank you Rosemary for introducing me to this poet ... for the poem *and* your excellent notes :)


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