“Once” by Joe O’Hearn

Once, Seven Different Ways
by Joe O’Hearn

Once, a fear pierced him, in the middle of a meadow
not unlike a pierced Sun Dancer rope-tied
to the forked Cottonwood centered in
the Lakota heartbeat grounds.

Once, a wind brushed him, a song of long ago
clear as hollow bird-bone whistles, guardedly
jilted from beneath a dogwood flower—smells and
sounds stormed over him dressed like an anvil cloud.

Once, a bird stopped him, a Sand Hill stilt-bending
knock-knocking its calls like downy redheads on bark,
ancient echoes bouncing and bumping gallantly
meander with a creek-bed curled forward then back again.

Once, a moon choose him, tint-rimmed crescent
above oil-black eyebrows sorely arched, those for the
anxious to leave a tight-lipped flame smoldering into
a spark to ignite his passions of fear.

Once, a notion caught him, a tank-full of fury
fueled from a solitary stare not that the
frown could cut raw meat in two,
sometimes it’s quiet between sips of tea.

Once, a presence prodded him, an intoxicating aura
yet not a soul to be found, just odd earthy smells crept
beside, in back and above him, and silently wrapped
along the trampled trail in between his two selves.

Once, a thought avoided him, while having dinner
at the table six trembling hours, ghastly eyes
hovering as cold as Joan Crawford’s, explosively
subtle fears willing and waiting to be served.


Artist: Joe O’Hearn

Genre: Poetry

Bio: Born and raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin I moved to Orange Park, Fl in 2015. I am also a struggling playwright. Growing up in the country I had multiple opportunities to observe the behaviors of people and animals. I always seemed to keep my thoughts to myself until I discovered I liked writing poetry and plays later in life.

Piece: Once

Piece Description: A poem about an individual who allows life to fester into fear.