Saturday 27 February 2021

Four Excellent Poems by Tim Heerdink


Final Flight as the Fog becomes Night

for David Hayden


A matter of days,                                a matter of seconds
to descend into            the   ever long sleep     we face
when the clock       reaches its        final       count.
One weekend    can  bring  an  end   to   life
so precious and fragile    in the tempted wind’s course.
David, a coach, instructor, author, father, and husband
claimed by      the heart          he nursed    since
the widow-maker   created         a    new           plan.
Kobe, a man      made from men      like    David,
who    take the    clay of boys    &   mold
with       many years’       persistence and   commitment
along a heart    that   loved    and did  it     well
in         mellow            temperament.

                                    we are all low
                                                            in this period.

I’m sure my fallen friend        would have sighed
upon taking in             the news      of Bryant’s chopper
down      on its   last    route to   LA for  his daughter’s game.
This detour   to maintain    the body    instead   of two hours
stuck   in     bumper to bumper traffic   via    automobile.
Despite the cash flow,      he, his daughter,  and seven others
rest    in  the ground    due    to    a wall     of    fog;
one of which   seems to have   drifted   to our state and taken
not only residence     but   more residents      as     well.
        but       see       the image
of    fathers     holding    their        daughters      while
flames    grab     ahold        of    them,       knowing
this    is     the   end,    &   there’s    nothing that   can be done.
Another shot               of a daughter    with   her    hand   placed
on    her    father’s  chest     as   he   takes     his   final    breath
haunts me as    we are at least   10:0 against  death   with  no
free throws   left    to help     tie    up   the    score.
                                    pep talk
   in this hour
when I am     in need      of guidance     as   my mother
takes   flight in   the fog   of the   unknown     battle
she   fights     at this    very     moment?
The  tumor,       it   may grow    like   the   fog,
and   so we    must    take it    out    and prepare
for what comes    next     just    like   Hayden did
when   he   heard     a     knock    at   the   door
back   in    2012   when   many   thought,

I’m part optimist,        part      realist;
I don’t    want       to   write      my mother  off,
but all options    must   be  considered,
for  I don’t    like    surprises.
These     foggy    days
see    me    begging
            the sun.

The Fourth Horseman

for Joseph Fulkerson

There’s a hodgepodge of go-getters
sifting through this literary scene
like drowning men doing what they can
to gather attention from the others.

You have those who try too hard,
flailing their arms & ultimately succumbing
to the waves rejection brings
without forgiveness.

Then you have those who breathe
with the calmest of demeanors
while floating on the inevitable high
of their own majestic creativity.

I know a man so prolific not even
the cockroaches that’ll survive us all
will ever be able to finish what he’s started
long before man’s catastrophic ruin.

He’s one of three poets I’d ride with into the fire
to entertain & enlighten those
content with their own destiny
before smoke or flames consume them.

The Knottseau Well

There was a time when I stood guard / like one of those Brits in their furry hats / without any

emotion / just doing my duty / as a good gentleman should / never looking elsewhere / but

straight ahead of me / The cruelest taunts / always failed to break / my gaze / with posture /

not unlike the great / rustic cross / which held / the alleged messiah / long before / this time /

One afternoon / while busy / at work / a storm cloud blew / it pushed me / into the Knottseau /

Well where / the not so well / often dwell / I thought / I knew all / the tricks / on how to escape,

but it seems / that I may have been / in this place / for longer / than I think / All around me

there are / weeping shadows / endless rain / no hope to make / the climb / It’s much too steep /

even for the most / experienced climber / of which / I thought I was / The well fills / and it fills

with the tears / of the crying / and undying / sorrow / Another man / down in this well / asked

me / Don’t you know / you did this / to yourself? / like my hands / held the shovel / that dug

this hole / we both / find ourselves / That’s when / my mind went / blank / for a brief period /

I came to / with the man / lying / on the bottom / I noticed / that I am / still digging/ the hole.


for John Berryman


Surface tension bellows a soft echo of muffled ruffles when a body hits the water
at full speed from the buildup one towering bridge standing over seventy feet
can offer a professor whose intelligent mind feels reduced to nothing but a nuisance.

Some students say they saw Berryman wave as he descended toward sweet relief
almost in celebration of the chapter to come in his grand farewell to the witnesses.
Henry and Mr. Bones would weep & not sleep for a hundred years for the loss.

I have this dream of meeting the dead poets who urge me to confess my own
in formal and free verse for others who have written notes hidden to be found
by loved ones or respected peers. My pieces echo, “I didn’t. And I didn’t.”

They can’t fire us for we are the choosers in this game of outcomes where
all must roll the dice like Plath, Sexton, Snodgrass, & Lowell to see
how long one must endure the cycle which only ends with the inevitable black.

A constant worry that only subsides when the host ceases to care is the mess
the body leaves after trauma has been inflicted upon it to free the caged bird
whose voice can no longer sing the songs poets hoped would never fade to silence.

Us artistic types seem to live fast and die way before biology tends to let expire,
and yet, if we didn’t cultivate a lifetime’s worth of beautiful expression to fight
all that tears society down daily, who else would offer to bear the crushing weight?

Tim Heerdink is the author of six poetry collections, The Human Remains, Red Flag and Other Poems, Razed Monuments, Checking Tickets on Oumaumua, Ghost Map, Sailing the Edge of Time, I Hear a Siren’s Call, and the novel, Last Lights of a Dying Sun. Heerdink is president of the Midwest Writers Guild. His short stories, The Tithing of Man and HEA-VEN2, won first and second place in the guild's annual anthology contests. He also has poems published in Poetry Quarterly, Fish Hook, Flying Island, Kissing Dynamite, Auroras & Blossoms, Tanka Journal, Landslide Lit, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Dumpster Fire, Alien Buddha, Voice Lux Journal, and various anthologies. He graduated from USI with a BA in English and resides in Newburgh, Indiana with his wife, daughter, dog, and two cats.

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