An Immodest Proposal

March 10, 2017  :: 0 comments

with apologies to Jonathan Swift The other day I was talking to a neighbor who said he found a way to help the poor and improve our environment simultaneously. It’s no secret, he said, that we have a dire food shortage among the chronically poor. It’s also no secret, he pointed out, many of our cities are overrun with feral …

In Certain Matters of the Heart

featured in the poetry forum March 4, 2017  :: 0 comments

It’s a matter of the heart,
the doctor says,
and he can fix it
with catheter ablation.
“It works miracles,” he says,
“in certain matters of the heart.”

He’s been a cardiologist for years.
“Take my word for it,” he says.
“You’ll be sedated. Won’t feel a thing.”

No excavation in my chest, either.
Instead, he’ll make little holes
in my groin and snake tiny wires
to the surface of my heart
and kill the current that makes

my heart race like a hare
at times and mope
like a turtle other times.
He’s never lost a patient.
“You’ll be fine,” he says.
“Trust me.”

Nine out of 10 ablations work.
I’ll save hundreds a month, he says,
on medications. No more Multaq.
No more Cardizem. And I’ll never
have to wear a heart monitor again.

“Shall we give it a try?” he asks.
“I’ve got an opening
two weeks from Monday.
It’s an outpatient procedure.
You’ll go home the same day,
rest for a week and then resume
your usual activities, even bowling.
Do you like bowling? My nurses do.
I prefer woodcarving.”

“Okay, Doc,” I tell him.
“I’ll give it a try, but tell me,
where were you 40 years ago
when the kids were small
and I was young, like a bull,
and a different matter of the heart
dropped me like a bullet.
Are you sure my heart’s still ticking?
Where’s your stethoscope?
I haven’t felt a thing in years.”

editors note:

You can lead a heart to fixing, but you can’t make it heal. – mh clay

Feliz Navidad

featured in the poetry forum December 10, 2016  :: 0 comments

Pedro swings a mop all night
on the 30th floor of Castle Towers
just off Michigan Avenue
not far from the foaming Lake.
The floor is his, all his,
to swab and wax till dawn.

The sun comes up and Pedro’s
on the subway snoring,
roaring home to a plate
of huevos rancheros,
six eggs swimming
in a lake of salsa verde,
hot tortillas stacked
beside them.

After breakfast,
Pedro writes a poem
for Esperanza,
the wife who waits
in Nuevo Leon.
He mails the poem
that night, going back
to his bucket and mop.

Pedro’s proud
of three small sons,
soccer stars
in the making.
On Christmas Eve
the boys wait up
in Nuevo Leon
and peek out the window.
Papa’s coming home
for Christmas!

Pedro arrives at midnight
on a neighbor’s donkey,
laughing beneath
a giant sombrero.
He has a red serape
over his shoulder,
and he’s juggling
sacks of gifts.

When the donkey stops,
the boys dash out and clap
and dance in circles.
Esperanza stands
in the doorway
and sings
Feliz Navidad.

editors note:

This Santa is no holiday concoction; he arrives with gifts and laughter for real. Feliz Navidad! – mh clay

Chicken Breast or Rump Roast

November 25, 2016  :: 0 comments

Freddie and Fern were an old couple, a very old couple if truth be told, but on the matter of age, the truth seldom surfaced. Their kids were grown and gone and had families of their own. All of them lived in different cities and two of them had even asked their parents to sell the house and buy a …

A Nuclear Childhood

featured in the poetry forum September 24, 2016  :: 0 comments

What if your parents
had never met
had never married

had never yelled
at each other
and instead had wed

someone they loved
and lived peacefully
all those years.

That would have been
their Eden but you
shaking there now

decades later
wouldn’t be with us
cursing the tremors

of a nuclear childhood
you still remember
long after they’re dead.

editors note:

Fusion or fission, we are we because they were they. – mh clay

Henry Showed Wendy His Paintings

August 13, 2016  :: 0 comments

Henry and Wendy Throckmorton had been married a week when Henry took Wendy to his garret 100 miles south of their estate in posh Kenilworth, a suburb of Chicago. Wendy thought she was going on a delayed honeymoon. Henry had never told her that he was a painter by avocation. She knew only that he was a successful patent attorney …

Eternity in Global Warming

featured in the poetry forum July 9, 2016  :: 0 comments

A clerk in a health food store
became upset when I said
I didn’t see anything I wanted
since I wasn’t a vegan
or vegetarian and liked my
red meat rare and dripping.

She said I needed to know
Nature is God and
Satan is Climate Change
and if I didn’t eat right
I would spend Eternity
in Global Warming.

I went back to the counter,
apologized with all my heart,
and said I would like to buy
the biggest hand fan in stock.

editors note:

Forgive us our meat, as we forgive those who meat against us. – mh clay

Dr. Chapman’s Insight

April 8, 2016  :: 0 comments

Dr. Chapman had been valedictorian of his class in high school and college but had finished second in his class in medical school, something that still bothered him after 30 years of successful practice in a small city. Many patients traveled from all over the state to see him. Over the years, he had hired a number of practical nurses …

Bullies and the Wimp

featured in the poetry forum April 7, 2016  :: 0 comments

They laugh at him
because he’s weak
by their standards
but they don’t realize

they’ve signed a
contract with him,
a lifetime guarantee
for recompense.

It will be fulfilled
perhaps tomorrow or
maybe on a wedding day
or years from now at

the funeral of a loved one
when they’re as vulnerable
as he appears to be
and for the moment is

but they don’t realize
the spider in its web
looks slow to any fly
circling overhead.

editors note:

Minimize your deficit with a healthy respect for all. – mh clay

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

featured in the poetry forum January 17, 2016  :: 0 comments

Nothing is anywhere anymore,
Dad shouts over the phone.
His reveille again at 4 a.m.
Will I come over and find it?

What’s missing, Dad, I ask.
It’s midnight and I’m in bed.
It’ll take a while to get there.

Your mother went to make
pineapple upside down cake
hours ago and still no cake.
She’s nowhere to be found.
I called the neighbors.
They won’t come over.
It’s just me and the dog
and he’s asleep.
Son, I need your help.

Mom died 10 years ago, Dad.
You and I went to the funeral.
We buried her at St. Anthony’s.
Remember all the rain?
And then the rainbow shining?

Son, you’re right again
Sorry I woke you but where’s
the pineapple upside down cake?
I’ve been waiting for hours.
A little snack and I’ll turn in.

editors note:

Can anyone remember where to find the dessert forks? (Another one (fun) from Donal on his page; a glimpse into his musical influences – check it out.) – mh clay