Anatomy of a Poet by C.J. Heck

C.J. Heck
By C.J. Heck June 16, 2013 23:37

Anatomy of a Poet by C.J. Heck


“There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken. There is a shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable. There is a sorrow beyond all grief, which leads to joy. And a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength. There is a hollow space too vast for words through which we pass with each loss, out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.” ~ Bri Maya Tiwari

That quote astutely describes not only my life, but the poetry in “Anatomy of a Poet”.

One of six children, I grew up in a small Ohio town and married my high school sweetheart at nineteen. A Vietnam War widow at twenty, I went on to marry and then divorce twice. I made a lot of choices, some good, some not so good, but as one of the poems in the book ends, “…at least I made choices. How sad for those who merely hitchhike along, never daring to choose at all.”

“Anatomy of a Poet” was written over a period of nearly forty years. The poetry is rich with memoir, rife with humor and, at times, sensual in nature.

Poetry can be daunting and hard to understand, but it doesn’t have to be. A poet has an obligation to write in a way that everyone can understand. Poems should flow softly through a poet’s words, their meanings easily touching the heart and mind of its reader. If a poem comes from the heart, it will reach other hearts

The author has rated this book PG-13 (questionable content for children under 13).


When It’s Over, You Just Know

You don’t always know
how you know,
it comes slowly, the awareness.
With the certainty and final resignation
of a child learning there’s no Santa Claus,
you just know.

The breakfast table, once a venue
for long dreamy stares
and coffee-flavored kisses,
awkwardly becomes a silent stage
for reading the news,
eating breakfast, and
you just know.

The smell of his shirt
when you’d bury your face there,
the feel of his hands on your body
as if they had a life of their own,
all silently slip to a place
wherever memories go
to gather dust, and
you just know.

You miss the nights,
how his body and yours
breathed and moved as one.
Maybe it’s those nights
and how they were
that give the knowing life, but
you just know.

Like ocean waves upon the sand,
love recedes
with all the other yesterdays
and you would trade
all your tomorrows
to have it back, but
you just know.

Anatomy of a Poet

Go in through the eyes of a poet
deep into her alphabet mind.
Ideas like flotsam and jetsam
dodge poetry fragments and lines.

Beware the dark shadows of memory,
knife-sharp and bloodied by time,
or gentle, orgasmic and sensual,
swirling eddies, some without rhyme.

Softly notice the spirit in hiding.
Tiptoe past the bruised heart mending there,
knitting poems, pearls strung on a necklace,
unfinished jewels everywhere.

Take note on your tour of this poet
the outside no different you see,
but inside, my God, a passion abyss,
the poet, the woman, the me.

Give Me a Poet for a Lover

Oh Lord,
give me a poet
for a lover
whose words
stroke me
like velvet hands.
Word-tender caresses
more reaching
than the caress
of a mere mortal man.
A poet’s light touch
is so gentle.
Word-fingers probe
deep every time,
arousing me,
haunting me,
wetting me,
seducing me,
body and mind.
Oh Lord,
give me a poet
for a lover!
Lust and fire
burn in his heart.
A silver-tongued devil
whose words make me ache
to be on my knees
in the dark.
making me want him,
only mind-loved,
I want to be free
to feel just one time
my poet inside,
where only mind-lust
up to now has loved me.

I Am a Lady

I am a lady,
but I am
so much more.
I am capable
of great insight
and quiet wisdom,
undying devotion
and love.
I am willing to give
more than receive
as long as it doesn’t
become habit and you
take and take
and never offer
anything in return.
I am a lady.
I am more than
a receptacle,
or a body
to be viewed
and screwed
at your leisure
with no thought
to what goes on
above my neck.
I’ll not be
a window dressing,
nor your bobble-head doll
who nods in agreement
with everything
you say and do.
I am a lady.
I’ve heard it said
that to kiss a man
when he wants
to be kissed
is like scratching a place
that doesn’t itch,
but I will guarantee
that I’ll always
have an itch
and not just for kisses,
but only if I am loved
and the love is shared
with respect, kindness,
honesty and faithfulness.
Rest assured,
it will all be returned
to you ten-fold,
because you see,
once the bedroom door
closes and the passion
rages in my blood,
I don’t have to be
a lady any more …

Full Circle

A little girl clops in mommy’s heels,
her dress, a floppy hat.
The borrowed pearls she’s chosen
dangle halfway down her back.

Her face a shining rainbow,
ruby lips, cheeks tinted pink,
blue splashes on both eyelids,
powder snowflakes in the sink.

She’ll go twirling in a ballroom,
a princess with her knight.
Or better still, be mommy
out with daddy Friday night.

In a child’s imagination
everything is crystal clear,
yet the truth beneath the surface
is revealed in mommy’s mirror.

That little girl is all grown up,
clothes and shoes are now my size,
but now the mirror of maturation
… is my own daughters’ eyes.

I Remember Mama

I remember Mama
blowing chewing gum bubbles
to entertain us while she ironed.
I was too young for school,
Sesame Street wasn’t invented yet,
the rain was pouring outside
and I was awed.

I remember Mama
sewing at her machine into the night
when she had to get up early for work,
patching my favorite pair of cutoffs
‘just one more time’
or putting pockets on pants
because my little brother adored them,
and I still hear her words,
‘There’s all kinds of ways to say
I love you.’

I remember Mama
teaching us that beauty on the inside
was more important than on the outside.
‘A kind word to a stranger
might be the only kind word
that person heard all day’
and how good it felt
finding out she was right.

I remember Mama
telling us to hold onto our dreams.
Make them happen and never say ‘I can’t’
and how funny I thought it
when she said
the world was our watermelon
and all we had to do was
grab it and take a bite.

I remember Mama
who taught us best by example
with her unconditional love.
Love isn’t love until it’s given away
and it’s in the giving that we know
it truly does come back ten-fold.

I remember, Mama.


Life is full of crossroads,
hard lefts or rights and paths
going this way or that.
Each choice has bumps
and potholes, ruts
and the occasional hairpin
turn. Choices are
chances to learn and grow.
Never alone, our guidance
whispers by our side.
Dusting myself off,
I’ve wondered at times
how my life might have
differed, had I taken
a straighter route.
Lord knows, I could have
used a few more straight
stretches along the way,
but at least I made my
choices, some good,
some not so good,
but each was perfect for me
at the time, creating the woman
that now is. How sad for those
who merely hitchhike through life
never daring to choose at all.

Dining on Love

We dine
in orchid splendor,
pheasant under glass,
fine china, lace,
a rare aged wine,
and whisper in candlelight.

We dine
on dandelion picnics,
indian blanket on the grass,
radio crooning love songs,
beer and paper plates,
playing ‘loves me-loves me not’ in the stars.

We dine
at last and after either
in blood-red roses style
the props are gone,
not needed now,
we feast upon each other
till sleep excuses us from our table …

Just a Man I Knew

There was a man I knew
and just knowing him
made me think of poetry.

Loving him I learned
that accepting love
is as important as giving it
and the not so subtle difference
between loving lukewarm
and loving red hot.
Love like that
can make you stupid,
a total-immersion
kind of stupid,
but it made me want
to read poetry.

In a different time,
a different place.
it might have worked,
but it was over and
when the last page was turned,
he was only a man I knew.
I have no regrets,
just one perfect memory.
And, because I loved him,
I write poetry.


What if we’re born with
a predetermined number
of heartbeats
and, when they’re gone,
we’re gone?
Just in case it’s true ,
I’m not going to waste mine
running down some road
in silly spandex pants
and a jog bra.
I’m going to make my
thumping little tickets last
as many years as I can.
At my age,
I’ve already used up
a hell of a lot of them
just getting here.
I’ll spread them out,
save them for what’s important,
like running away from
something or someone bad.
I also intend to use a lot of them
for making love.
If life really is a journey
and not a destination,
I might as well enjoy myself
along the way …

A Nickel for Thoughts of You

I wish I had a nickel
for every time I think of you
watching TV on the couch,
chin parked on your chest,
not sleeping, just resting
your eyes for a minute;
or with your brows furrowed,
chasing an errant whisker
on the face in the mirror;
or your hands on the keyboard,
and the amazing speed
of the intricate thoughts,
considering the size of your hands;
or you secretly watching me
from across the room,
and me secretly catching you
secretly watching me;
or your gentle touch
when you pass my chair,
just because you’re glad I’m here.
Love is measured
in so many little minutes.
It’s important we not miss them,
for who knows,
life might be metered in hours.
It isn’t really about the nickels,
— but it would be fun
to see the almighty pile of coins.

Mr. Beggar Man

You were a gentle soul,
in your stained red plaid shirt,
hat speckled with bird poop,
and saggy-baggy pants that stopped
just above two heel-less shoes
that were see-through
to feet with no socks.

So many mornings
I walked by your corner,
putting money in your cup
if only to borrow a smile
when I had none left of my own.
I always knew the one you gave
would be the one that found
those I had only misplaced for awhile.

Countless times we shared a lunch,
and so did many others,
hot soup from the deli across the street
or half a tuna sandwich from home.

You shared your wooden pallet
but never once a conversation,
and all the while, you never missed a beat
as you continued to pass out
that glorious smile to everyone
who sauntered by.

I wonder what happened in your life
to make you take up
residence on that corner,
to die cold and alone,
the smiles you apportioned
your only living legacy.

You will be missed by many,
even the shopkeepers
who so often shooed you away.
I hope you knew
what you meant to me
… and I didn’t even know your name.

Adonis in Passing

Young god, head held high,
proud mane blowing
in the city’s dirty breeze,
clothes just enough wrinkled
to make a woman believe
you just climbed out
of a quickie
or stepped off of page 42
in this month’s GQ.
Do you mind
that I turn and look
as you walk by?
No, of course not.
You don’t see me as a threat.
You don’t even see me at all.
But give me ten more years …
by then, I’ll be old enough
to reach over
give your ass a squeeze
and say
mmmm … nice buns.

A Cold, Cold Heart 

I offered my heart
in the palm of my hand,
a burning nova
to a private world,
where love and trust
knew no bounds.
Tender and giving,
it beat only for you,
but hurt fans out
like surface ripples
on a pond after a pebble falls.
Each new hurt
spreads rings ever wider
and with each new ring,
feelings fade,
chilling deeper,
till cold as ice,
they become as stones
bouncing on a frozen pond,
their rhythm etched forever
in a cold, cold heart.

Taps for My Soldier

A gentle breeze
chatters the leaves
as birds sing their greetings.
The sun shines,
a day like any other,
and yet like none before.
Two mirrored rows of uniforms
line up like blue dominoes,
white gloves holding rifles at the ready.
A lone bugle cries.
Twenty-four notes.
Each note, slow as a tear,
blankets ears and heavy hearts.
In the silence between,
nature holds its breath.
Gone is the breeze.
Gone are the bird songs.
Gone is her hold on composure,
all lost in the bugle’s lament.
Solemnly a soldier approaches.
White gloves present
a tri-fold flag,
and in one final mournful note,
legions of silent voices unite
to call a comrade home
… and a young wife weeps.

Websters Dictionary: Changeling: (noun): 
1. One who, or that which, is left or taken in place of another.

The Changeling

At dawn, I looked
with eyes wide open.
The color of his hair had
to winter gray,
the dark crowded out
to who knows where,
perhaps to join
a master work
in perfect granite,
his finite features
raisined to roadways
buckled into nose
and cheek and brow.
Somehow spared
by nature’s cruelty
are steel blue eyes,
eyes that walk my dreams,
and lips that taunt and tease.
Where was I
when all this happened?
Here, a changeling, too,
and robbed as well?
Today, when morning
slipped inside
to kiss my eyelids,
I felt blessed
it reached across
to touch his too.

Watching You Sleep 

Softly by my side you sleep,
the love I feel, so real.
I can still taste your flavor
as my fingers travel
the highways woven
in your face
to etch them
in my mind.
I breathe you in,
your him-scent stamped
to memory,
and my skin still tingles
where we loved.
Those hands I love
twitch in silent
dream direction
and I wonder
if I’m in there with you
behind the fluttering lids.
And now my own eyes close
as softly by my side,
now softly in my mind,
you sleep.


Tell me again you love me.
Hold me again like you care.
Let me reach for you
in the darkness
and please, please,
find you there.
Let me want you
deep inside me
and know you want that, too.
Let’s make love all night
and in morning’s light,
if we want to, begin again.
Let me see your smile
to return with my own.
God, let’s laugh out loud!
May my name be
the last word
you breathe at night,
here, now, today.
Someday may never come,
and forever
won’t be enough.

His Hands

His hands should have
their own identity,
a name perhaps,
befitting each vocation
they enjoy.

Skillful hands —
finely tuned,
they hold every tool
with equal panache.
Each callous earned,
a trophy, but self-aware,
they’re gentle
as they browse
my every curve.

Comical hands —
the right one
scraping whiskers,
razoring down
a field of white
revealing trails of
pink-skinned angles.
I laugh at the silly poses
skewed by the left
so the right
won’t miss a spot,
my just reward,
a foamy kiss.

Angry hands —
his driving hands,
hands that slap
the wheel
as assholes
go too slow
or cut in front,
up their butts
with their heads.
I’m glad the
angry hands
are only known
to live in cars.
Those hands …
I love his hands.

The Song

I can’t remember
the last time
I heard that song,
only that I cried then, too.
It’s not a sad song,
but the tears fall
just the same,
as though yesterday
was caught in my throat
and today is gum
stuck to my shoe.
I wanted to yell
at the guy in the car
to roll up his window
and have a heart,
because he was
breaking mine.
I only walk down this street
every now and again.
Please, someone tell him
tomorrow would be
a kinder day
to drive around
playing that song.

Do I Remember You? 

Do I remember you
from so many years ago?
The man with
a gentle touch
and loving hands,
the softest shoulder
to cry upon …
budding passion,
almost lovers,
and rent by fate …
So many miles away
the years have passed,
our mirrors echo
youthful faces all aglow,
lives lived
on tandem shores.
As silent arms reach
through the ages
spanning years
from then to now,
unseen fingers
ply the keyboard
filling in the time between.
Love and memories
come flooding
into present from the past
and I cry from
just one letter …
Yes, I do remember you.

In Search of Sleep 

Sleep, you ornery rascal,
why do you elude me?
Like a crush, you tease my senses,
you taunt me with your charms.
Needing you, I’m bribed and baited,
much smitten with desire.
Your allure in awkward places
has me always hiding yawns.
You deflower me in a movie,
you corrupt me on my couch.
Should you take up prostitution,
might I gladly buy some time?
Sleep come take me lying down,
not driving in my car!
Then sighing in depravity,
again I call from bed …
Sleep, you naughty pervert,
I want you, take me now!

Little People

Footsteps on the staircase
handprints on the walls
tiny fingers dripping things
up and down the halls.

Voices all in unison
calling out my name
arguing and pointing
and saying who’s to blame.

Dishes in the sink
couch cushions on the floor
clean and dust, then fall in bed,
tomorrow will bring more.

Those times are etched in memory
the children now are grown,
but I’ll gladly have it all again
when the grandkids all come home.

To a Homeless Man

Homeless man, I watched as you
lined a deserted doorway,
your Maytag boxes
like cardboard monuments
with Fed Ex labels
and signs pointing ‘This Side Up’,
stark reminders of what is,
and what could be,
but for the grace of God.
I wondered,
maybe if I wished hard enough,
a Fed Ex truck might spirit you away
on a magic carpet ride
to a place where you
wouldn’t be invisible
for those who take the time
to look and really see,
a place where someone might offer
you a job with no Catch 22,
first telling you to shower
and wear clean clothes,
and you with no money
for either
without a job.
I wished. I prayed.
But for the grace of God go I.

Rockin’ the Boat

Fishin’ is a lot like marriage.
Both are great things to be doin’
and the rewards are
well worth the time spent,
but you can sure get into
a lot of trouble with either of ’em
by rockin’ the boat …

We Need to Get Away

Have I told you lately
how good you smell
when the shower
spits you out?
I can’t remember
the last time, but
it wouldn’t surprise me,
considering what time
we actually get to spend
alone together these days.
I do know I remember
how intense it used to be.
We need to get away,
just the two of us,
before we grow any ruts
in the relationship’s road.

Let’s go somewhere,
before talking dirty
really means:
“You doing a light load?
Can you grab my pj’s
on the back
of the bedroom door?”

Before wanna catch a quickie?
really means:
“I’m pooped. Wanna take a nap?”

Before Oh God, I’m coming!
actually means:
“Don’t nag me, I’m almost ready!
Go ahead, start the car.”

Let’s go somewhere, while
Baby, that was fantastic!
still means a lot more than
a Sunday Scrabble win.
It’s not too late.
I remember.

I Remember Then

I remember many things
about those days, and you.
I remember diving into brownest eyes
and staring, as though I couldn’t get
deep enough, then burning
the love I saw there
into a memory
to keep for all time.
I remember the way
total silence could be so
comfortable, and how it
was the first time in my life
I ever felt that to be so.
I remember how safe I
felt with you. Even how you
said my name was different
and I remember thinking then
that even my name was safe
in your mouth. I remember
how we would make love
all night and stay in bed
all day, then skinny dip
to cool down all the places
our lovemaking heated up.
I remember lying in your
arms in the afterglow
and thinking how profound
it was, the way the brain
hitched a ride when the body
did all the work.
You were my miracle
in our own short season.
And I remember
the last time I saw you,
because I will never
forget the sadness.


Lying in bed,
holding off reality,
I’m caught in the cozy place
between dream and fantasy.
Heart slowing back to a walk,
I’m wondering,
does it get any better than this?
A lingering taste,
our man-woman scent
hovering in the air,
is it any wonder
the mind’s eye is still open,
watching what is past?
How amazing,
the way the brain
lays a path
to a woman’s senses
so they remain
heightened and alive,
though the moment
is now only a memory.
His body, warm and sensual,
enfolds this one
as he sleep-sighs here,
next to me
in the afterglow.

When I Finally Close My Eyes 

When I close my eyes
for the last time,
I want to have lived,
really lived.
I want to know I’ve tasted
the smorgasbord of life,
having relished the good
and spat the bad back out,
knowing at least I tried it.
When I’m done here,
I don’t want to wonder
whether someone caught
the kiss I threw,
I will know.
I don’t want to leave this life
with a heart as empty
as my pockets have always been.
I want to know, without a doubt,
I’ve left something of me behind,
— something that’s good,
not regret,
for never making a difference.
When I close my eyes
for the very last time,
I would like
someone to remember
… I was here.

Copyright© C.J. Heck. All rights reserved.

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C.J. Heck
By C.J. Heck June 16, 2013 23:37
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