Posted in grief, Joseph Hesch, Mortality, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Rules of the Game

The rules of the game
are set in stone.
You can read them
written on each slab
out there on the field.
The great game is summed up
in four numbers on one side,
and four on the other,
of a grooved hyphen.
Funny how those hyphens,
from end to end,
are the width of an N or M,
but a life may be wider
than a thousand thousand alphabets
or as narrow as an I.

You think of these things,
the unwritten,
the randomly ordered
string of letters,
of words, of stories,
of a life lived in
what seems like a hyphen,
a momentary there to here,
then to now,
once to once,
when you sit by a deathbed,
in front of a casket, or
at a graveside.
That’s where they post
the rules for all to see
and no one’s ever broken.

– Joseph Hesch
© 2014, All rights reserved

Hesch Profileproduct_thumbnail-3.phpJOSEPH HESCH (A Thing for Words) is a writer and poet from Albany, New York , an old friend of Bardo and a new core team member. Joe’s work is published in journals and anthologies coast-to-coast and worldwide. He posts poems and stories-in-progress on his blog, A Thing for Words.  An original staff member at dVerse Poets Pub website, Joe was named one of Writers Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer’s “2011 Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow.” He is also a member of the Grass Roots Poetry Group and featured in their 2013 poetry anthology Petrichor Rising.


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

7 thoughts on “Rules of the Game

  1. As I’ve aged, those rules become more and more apparent and intrude more often into my thoughts. The positive side of all that is that it makes you squeeze in everything you can into each moment and appreciate all that life offers.


  2. A beautiful poem, Joe. It got me thinking about how life and death are so closely integrated. Maybe my mind is going in that direction because I just finished “Year of Wonders – A Novel of the Plague” by Geraldine Brooks. A riveting story that is very well written. It shows the best and worst of our human nature when we are faced with fear and unfathomable loss.


  3. The hyphen, ironically the essence of poetry – the briefest form of words that can speak of a life full of experience, of meaning, of love and of care to its end. Perhaps this hyphen is a metaphor for your life’s work as a story-telling poet. I never fail to find great meaning in your words, Joe. A piece well penned, my friend.


  4. Your poem kind of reminded me of the poem, “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. Your second stanza here is heartbreaking in its truth. I was very sorry to read of your loss and I hope that writing will bring you some measure of comfort. Thanks for sharing this piece with us. I imagine it was probably tough to write.


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