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The Nana Hex

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Below is the poem entitled The Nana Hex which was written by poet John Heck. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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The Nana Hex

Every time I get happy
the Nana-Hex 
comes through.
A dog's canines 
change into chainsaws,
toothpicks turn into knives,
coral reefs diverge into dirty sponges,
a sandcastle into a mausoleum,
a soldier-ant burrows deeper
into my borrowed grave,
reveille trumpets tap 
a tip-toed timpani of
disenchanted malevolence;
all for the Nana-Song.

I am eleven.
I am naked.
I am screaming.
I am kneeling in the shower
and every time I shriek:
"I feel like dancing today or
look, I can tie my shoelaces or
my bruises have healed or,
my neck is not scarlet like
the underskin of
Grandma's fingernails" -
it plays again, it reprises -
like a Bizet refrain 
scraping pitchforks
against agate slabs, 
shaving fresh flesh.
All for the resurrection of...!
All for the redemption of...!
the Nana-Hex.

Now, I am fifteen.
I don't talk. I fail to eat.
I scratch poetry and snivel.
My front teeth 
are chipped and broken
like the high-browed brim 
of Nana's low-ball snifter.
I picture four undertakers
from my windowsill.
Three of them are for me -
the fourth filthy fist, 
clutching a scratched
chromed rung, 
is for her.

Throwing confetti 
from a guarded train
as she selfishly vacated me,
Dr. Zhivago evasive and...wait! 
"look I've made my bed, dear Nana.
I lost another tooth, I received
an A+ in geometry.
No. I'm not part of one's family circus,
I'm not a crippled duckling
in a shooting gallery anymore."
Mom, Momma - I...
I can't catch her confetti, Mother.
I can't, poor Momma - but...

when her swastikad locomotive 
bleeds into the
frozen chambers 
of Auschwitz's 
omnipresent shower heads,
and my stifled tears choke 
your starved larynx
like a rabid cat 
untangling balls
of matted string; then...

and only then -

dear God, 
please tell Grandma Nana -
I've formidably said: 


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  1. Date: 2/24/2011 9:45:00 AM
    Congratulations John, on your well deserved win for your poem in Debbie Guzzi's contest "Anything Goes". Love, Carol

  1. Date: 2/15/2011 11:18:00 AM
    What a brilliant write, John. It sounds like the Nana Hex left some emotional scars on this young man. Children need encouragement and it seems he was trying so hard to find it from his Nana. Congratulations on your win in Deb's contest! Love, Carolyn

  1. Date: 2/15/2011 9:02:00 AM
    congrats on this well written winning poem, shades of Anne Sexton here..

  1. Date: 2/14/2011 11:31:00 PM
    The powerful ever-lasting effect some people have on us - especially those related to us - those we are closest to. Sensational writing as always, John. Lainie

  1. Date: 2/14/2011 10:19:00 PM
    narrative that spells magic! CONGRATS, john! :) huggs, nette

  1. Date: 2/14/2011 8:39:00 PM
    Congratulations on winning in Debbie's contest with this rather long, but well written entry.

  1. Date: 2/14/2011 7:56:00 PM
    Congrats John on another great win in Debbie's contest for this brilliant beauty my friend.. enjoy and happy Valentine's day ...

  1. Date: 2/14/2011 6:01:00 PM
    This is a powerful and intense poem, unforgettable once again...the imprint of this boy and the pain, and the extent of the feelings. Wow... Again, my congratulations and awe.

  1. Date: 2/14/2011 5:51:00 PM
    A great write and I see it is your second win with the very intense poem. Congratulations. Love, Joyce

  1. Date: 7/15/2009 4:46:00 PM
    John - Congratulations on placing in Christie & Sharon’s contest – I apologize I wasn’t able to congratulate you until now, God Bless, MJ

  1. Date: 7/1/2009 7:01:00 PM
    Congrats John, ya big wienee, i mean weiner, I mean winner!:))-AA

  1. Date: 7/1/2009 5:45:00 PM
    Wow..John...this is my first opportunity to read this amazing poem....speechless and awe struck...Congratulations on your win and on such an amazing write.!

  1. Date: 7/1/2009 5:08:00 PM
    John, congrats on your big win in Sharon and Christies Contest...Raul

  1. Date: 7/1/2009 4:28:00 PM
    Congratulations on your 2nd place in Sharon and Christie's Contest! Excellent write. Ruben

  1. Date: 12/10/2008 10:15:00 AM
    Hello John... The imagery in this write is astounding... almost brutal in its clarity.

  1. Date: 11/16/2008 12:31:00 AM
    Congratulations, John, on your truly deserved win in Tracey's awesome contest. Love, Nigel

  1. Date: 11/16/2008 12:29:00 AM
    Congrats on your success in Tracy's contest John.Rgds Brian & thanks for the honour of HM in in your contest.

  1. Date: 11/15/2008 6:14:00 PM
    Warmest congrats John on your win in Tracy's contest! Love, Shar

  1. Date: 10/22/2008 12:31:00 PM
    John, your words jumped right off the page and pulled at the heart strings of this reader... transporting me back to a time when my middle school instructors would speak of the horrific effects of the holocaust had on their families and the friends they had lost, always seemed to give me the shivers … This is a bone chilling write indeed my friend and truly a marvelous work. I thank you for sharing the read. God’s Love and Many Blessings, Always, Adell

  1. Date: 10/18/2008 2:49:00 PM
    this a new form of writing my reading it for the first tiem, it is filled with warmth love and intirgue, i hope that you win in the contest, great write, take care D-nyce