featured in the poetry forum April 13, 2018  :: 0 comments

Two wooden dolls
With their heads on springs
Nodding to each other.
One sets off the other
Till the mechanism wears out
And their heads fall off.

editors note: I do. You do. We do. Till - Done. - mh clay

The Mitzvah Gig

April 7, 2018  :: 0 comments

1. I don’t remember her name. Let’s call her Sarah. I do remember where she worked: the Kfar Shaul Psychiatric Hospital, as some kind of psychiatric social worker. Like me, she was a new immigrant to Israel, and we both sang in a chamber choir in Jerusalem. “Is it true you’re in a band?” she asked me one evening during …

Shoshi’s Ugly Poem

featured in the poetry forum February 25, 2017  :: 0 comments

I think of you stilled
Under the earth,
Clods of clay, and your melting flesh.
Cracking bones,
Shreds of cloth
Clinging to your twisted limbs.
But that is not you, and never was.
This thing, this stilled thing
The most alien and wrong of it all,
This stillness is not you.
You, who were always
So ticking over with motion,
Rhythm, and the juice of the dance.
You, who even as you sat,
Sat alert and bright-eyed and aware.
You, who even when not moving
Had the beat of life running through you,
Waiting for your time
To jump into the circle again.
And it is so wrong, this stillness.
You, gone from yourself,
Yourself gone away and the body left behind,
A lump of putrescence,
Nothing more.
How fine that you are gone, really.
How right.
You would never have stood for this outrage,
This breakdown of holy life,
Of the joy of your life.
You would have been horrified
At what you have become.
Better it’s done,
Done and gone,
Gone away.
But the awful stillness stays.
And this is an awful poem, I know.
But I am haunted by your stillness.
Awful absence of motion
The craziest proof of all
That you are really gone.

editors note: Hard to not notice those not here, when they were so much here, before. - mh clay


featured in the poetry forum August 16, 2016  :: 0 comments

He comes home and she circles around him
Rubbing the pain into the wound
Have you eaten, was it nice
Did the car drive well
Monosyllables or no syllables
The stare straight ahead
The slight nod
And she stops talking.
Flow of air
Motes of sun
The snap and hiss of the open beer cap.
The evening begins.
The tv crackles on, it’s the bottom of the fifth
Bases loaded but lots of time to play
As he slowly eases down
And pries off his shoes.
The couch
The beer
The game
goes on.

editors note: Dante's revenge on the working class. - mh clay


featured in the poetry forum May 31, 2015  :: 0 comments

Your need
Is my need
Is not
Our need
Or not need now
If ever
I can’t say never
Was it you
I thought I knew?
All that murk
We blundered through –
Youth, inexperience, no common language,
Adrift in seas of unplumbable depth –
And now, on the shore,
I take step after step.
Don’t look back, I think.
What was, is not.
And yet,
I can’t forget
What might never have been.

editors note: Step lightly or blunder boldly; need never, but does. - mh clay

The Bull in the China Shop

featured in the poetry forum March 22, 2014  :: 0 comments

How can he be here?
It must have seemed like a good idea.
How could it have seemed like a good idea?
And now he stands
Coated by one inch of empty air. No more.
I watch and cannot breathe.
Don’t know what to do is a thought,
And I don’t think, I have no thought.
Instead, awareness,
Like no sense in the sense book.
I feel
With every pore in my skin
As waves of him
Ripple outward
Potential of motion
Of what is to come
Chaos, shards of flying death
Shivering shrieking spears
Bursting out, flying outwards
As, maddened, he turns
And turns again
And splits my skull with his bellowing rage
Does he understand
That he himself is the source of his pain?
I can’t explain
I can’t talk
I can’t run
He stands
And I stand
And then, in
It begins

editors note: Origins or solutions? Getting the hell out takes priority... after breathing, that is. - mh

Jonah: Before

November 11, 2013  :: 0 comments

Suppose you were Jonah.
What would you do?
When you woke again, shocked into predawn dark,
Would you blame it on bad food?
Troubled times?
Would you shake your head until it throbbed,
Trying to clear your vision?
Would you jump from bed,
Pull on clothes,
Run out the door,
Gun the car motor to drown out
Your beating heart?
Blood pounding in your temples, would you
Leap into the clatter of the busy, busy world,
Yell and gesticulate, language of the market,
Grin and chatter, language of the office,
Rustling papers, humming machines,
Roaring motors, clicking precision,
Dull numbing thuds –
Would you reach for potions or liquids or smokes,
Anything to blur,
Anything to smear,
To cast doubt,
It was what I did,
It was what I took,
It was what I drank,
It was pressure,
It was tension,
It was lack of sleep,
I’m not crazy, no,
It’s the way the wind blows here,
It’s the way the winds blow here,
Elsewhere, the winds don’t do this,
By sea,
By ship,
There are no voices in the wind,
Or beyond

Jonah: After

featured in the poetry forum November 11, 2013  :: 0 comments

Jonah doesn’t follow me around.
There he is, under the bush.
He isn’t sulking.
He isn’t talking.
He sits.
Heat rises off him.
Hum and glow halo him.
You can approach, or you can go back,
It’s all the same to Jonah.
Under the bush, eyes to the distance,
What he sees is not what you see,
Or maybe it is. Who can tell?
Jonah will not talk,
At least not to you.
Jonah is in a place
Beyond words.
Words must be found
When questions are asked,
But it is a long way back
From a place beyond words.

editors note: What comes after provocation of a proud people to rampant repentance? A pale-pated, under-appreciated, pissed off prophet. No question... - mh

Poetry Is

featured in the poetry forum September 2, 2013  :: 0 comments

Poetry is
what you do
instead of what you should be doing
or maybe because you
aren’t doing it.

Poetry is
you stop,
and everyone else is going on,
and still you stand. The gap grows greater.
You run ahead and fall into step
and then you stop
Again, and again.
And meanwhile, the sky darkens.
It’s raining, or it’s not.
Rain and sun and winds that stir
The skin on boiled milk cools and curls
and you are off again
where you should not be.
A thousand tasks beckon,
and still you stand and dream,
counting your fingers,
holding your hands up against the sky

editors note: Well, um... I guess, yes, that's true - what? Was the moon silver or blue just then? - mh

Piss Poem

featured in the poetry forum May 3, 2013  :: 0 comments

I dreamt last night of puddles of piss,
Babies being held up naked over the floor
And the pale, stinking results
Seeping slowly over the floor tiles.
I dreamt of brown-edged rusty stains,
Reek rising from them. Dreamt of water,
And the sound of water in pipes,
And the non-water outside the pipes
Dappling while porcelain,
Caught mid-drip and drying.
Piss, indeed,
And who to clean it up but me.
Me, armed with rag, sponge,
Scrubbing brush,
Me, with my container of scouring powder,
Itself piss-smelling evil sand.
Me, following my nose down to the ground.
What is that?
What is that?
Your piss or mine?
Fine. Clean it up.
And who to clean it up but me,
The Piss Cleaner,
Left to deal with the piss and shit
Not to mention the string beans –
O Literary Reference
Where do you get me now?
And who to shake a stick in my direction
Unless it be the stick of the mop handle
To clean up the piss.

editors note: Would we judge this custodial caste? Let him who is without piss throw the first mop. - mh