never close your eyes

featured in the poetry forum November 23, 2020  :: 0 comments

when the fever of life is over
passions burned down to smoldering coals
then callous ashes
reminiscences bittersweet
folded into the chocolate swirl marble cake batter of the past
loves are still there
old contour maps of forgotten countries
violet hills caramel valleys plains of bone
names of towns too faded to read
rivers washed away
now all the secrets are known
the deeds evaporated
what was done or not done acted or not acted said or not said thought or not thought wanted or not wanted read or not read completed or not completed organized or disorganized sleeping or awake
the feelings deployed
the dogs fed the cats yowling the birds roosting the clocks stopped the radios off the doors locked windows closed skylights covered bed made dishes washed table cleared laundry done floor swept ornaments dusted books arranged snakes slither away through the grass
somewhere in there is something of importance
that colors the whole of time
and when yet another failed revolution is over
we will have for an epitaph:
“they lived their lives the best way they knew how.”

don’t look away

never close your eyes

– John C. Goodman

editors note:

Keep it real. Keep ’em peeled. – mh clay

Have you ever seen a ghost?

featured in the poetry forum November 22, 2020  :: 0 comments

Have you ever seen a ghost?
I have, the corner of my eye,
In the mirror.
I turn as fast as I can, but it’s just me staring back.
An older broken version of the person I see in my mind.
The image may change, the hair brown to grey.
The memories remain, was it last year or a decade ago.
Freshman year blends into standing on yellow footprints.
Best friends as young men walking in the desert.
Take fire, return fire, go home, rinse and repeat.
But home was never home, and friends drift apart
Sometimes you send or get a text “Hey, remember when…”
It all washes back to a time when you were brave.
You make plans, but they never materialize.
The next time you meet up, it’s at one of their graves.

– William J Watson

editors note:

Haunt, be haunted. Be brave either way. – mh clay

Wishbone

featured in the poetry forum November 20, 2020  :: 0 comments

Two-three, February third
I have no Brylcreem in my hair
Two-three
an elephant stands in my foyer
my windbreaker pocket holds a rabbit’s foot
Two-tree
I purchase Valentine roses
I haven’t eaten chocolate Easter bunny ears in two decades
I’m the same and not the same
as forty years ago
my parents at the dining room table broke
a wishbone, it was still light outside
early summer night
Two-three
I’m happier now than forty years ago
even though I miss them
and recently had eye surgery
also surgery on my nose, mouth, and groin
and have seen a car break through the wall
of a Chinese restaurant
Two-three
it’s been a while since mosquitoes buzzed
in my ear, Two-three
I wear my father’s watch
and remember his voice, and also my mother’s
two nights ago
my friend said
he could maybe see his late brother
here on earth and I could see my parents
since we might not get to see them
after we die
we left our campfire and walked
with flashlights, warming my chilled feet
I need to ask what he meant
by seeing them here, Two-three
an elephant stands in my foyer
a round mirror is hanging on the wall
a lantern sits in a plastic box in my garage
my parents at the dining room table
broke a wishbone
Two-three, I am the same and not the same

– Peter Mladinic

editors note:

All our recaps and random recollections make us the same, two-three. – mh clay

from The Woman in an Imaginary Painting: The paradox…

featured in the poetry forum November 18, 2020  :: 0 comments

The paradox is
that in her nakedness
she finds privacy.

We see skin but cannot
look within. A line
of darkness divides

her symmetry.
The mystery will
not open for us.

She is an entrance
you cannot enter.

– Tom Montag

editors note:

When an eyeful sees nothing. – mh clay

CREEPY-CRAWLY EROS

featured in the poetry forum November 17, 2020  :: 0 comments

Branching off into leaf-beds,
the limbs of trees become the sinews
of your arms that knead ecstasy into me.

Your embrace is a spider that ambles
bow-legged up the trunk of my body,
marking punctures at each bite,
trailing saliva that spins
a wistful web of welts.

Tendrils of poison shoot through blood,
making fingers clasp and feet thrash,
as a scarab scurries across my bare back.

In the morning, swollen-shut eyes
whisper the naked chant of happiness,
as my heart hums and whirrs
a lazy beetle’s song!

– Mandakini Bhattacherya

editors note:

An arach-Nin for the bug-lustful. – mh clay

Mr. and Mrs. Jones

featured in the poetry forum November 16, 2020  :: 0 comments

When signatures are scrawled
on every page marking
every year… every death
and every dollar
When checks are cut
and we amicably shake hands
our eyes glimpse
the waves under each other’s souls
Here’s a page we didn’t write into the script…
the mark of
… End …
We sit mad
with fear in the hopes
we did the right thing
although we were doing the right thing
yet it wasn’t quite right
not exact
but what is exact and perfect and so
magnificent that we couldn’t get to?
Nothing
will ever compare to your solid
and strong body
holding me in the dead of night while I cried
of a fear
that I only now
understand as regret
back then
those nights wasted
thinking it will always be

– Donna Dallas

editors note:

Keep a loose-leaf ledger, rip out regrets to no end. – mh clay

FRANK SERPICO AT THE DINER

featured in the poetry forum November 12, 2020  :: 0 comments

It is 7 a.m. in Hudson, New York.
The tin can diner is shrugging off dawn’s shroud
Of relentless fog that plows down from the Catskills
Daily, like the sleepy commuters seeking
Coffee to go for the long haul
South down the Taconic into the canyons of Manhattan,
Where the green of Columbia County turns to a cold angry grey.
The blinking red and yellow neon “Open” sign
Struggles to cut through the haze in a valiant attempt
To welcome traveler and local alike.
Ten-year-old pickup trucks redolent of manure park at sharp angles
Next to this year’s Escalades bearing tags that suggest leased vehicles.
I seat myself at a table and wait for the “Want coffee, Honey?” waitress
With the Ethel Merman voice
And the blood orange lipstick.
I glance over at the counter and he is there, as he usually is,
In the early morning hours.
Buffalo plaid shirt
Throwaway work boots with clumps of mud and hay protruding from
Underneath the soles, where his feet
Barely scrape the footrest.
A frail, elderly man with unwashed grey hair sipping chamomile tea
Solo, at the counter;
I wonder if he sees himself as a hero,
Or as an old man, alone.
He senses the pierce of my stare, and he turns around, nods.
I raise up my coffee cup in a toast of sorts, and we both resume our solitary meal.
I wonder, for a moment, what it must be like to be him,
And then I realize,
I already know.

– Sarah Ito

editors note:

Celebrity in solitude. – mh clay

Eating With Father’s Friends During Lockdown.

featured in the poetry forum November 11, 2020  :: 0 comments

The table looks nice… a milligram of mounds sits on it.
It is a ball… Silence is a golden fortune we worship. Only
spittles birthed from delicacies dare break it… Like a thief with abs.
Winds tussle… My father’s friend is bitter of caves… He says
it exposes the fall of needles… He says the nipple of a strumpet
is worshipped… He says it is fire… Another clears his mouth
with the back of his hand… Belches… Drinks from the goblet
keeping the undiluted wines… Clears the disturbances in his throat
Voice guttural… He says he knows the story of the snail hidden
in the murkiness of the shell… How his mother sauntered many times
for his eyes… Belches again… Picks a call from a Muslim friend
I hear him say… Tomorrow, we are doing today… Damn lockdown!
Damn the pit they dug for us to feast bloods… To feast the flesh of our thumb
Another talks… Eyes red… The food i am tasting is here, but God.
I am eating… One ear opening itself to the uproar… I tear the
flesh of the chicken with relish… The wine, cold.
Another stands… When next I reincarnate, this country will hate me
I see him walk out…

– Shitta Faruq Adémólá

editors note:

At this table, keep your distance and your left hand to yourself. – mh clay

Over A Game of Cards

featured in the poetry forum November 6, 2020  :: 0 comments

a queen of hearts, a jack of spades,
a shuffling of the deck, a shedding
of the cards, a game of love underway

a stronger masculine hand, matching
of wits, a test of patience, a sip
of sights, the queen plays her trick

a little allusion meant to attract
the slightest attention, carefully
calculated slips of the glossy lips

sharp whips of the dense eyelashes
the glances grazing against each other
a flirting flutter in the frail heart

a talk so sweet, loud the hearts beat,
a momentary loss of male concentration
and she bluffs him into a tame submission.

– Debasis Tripathy

editors note:

All in for strip, though destined to lose, when you were naked all along. (Maybe this loss is a win.) – mh clay

He took

featured in the poetry forum November 5, 2020  :: 0 comments

Inspired by Jeff Weddle

He took his medications well and orderly
He woke up just every day
To go to work unerringly
He took care to think quietly
And not to speak haphazardly

He took pride in his appearance and
His presence, nay, impression was that
Of a man that shaves regularly
At least that was the thing
He told himself

He tried to smile always but
These days the masks hide all that
And your eyes can only emote
So effectively anyway
But, smile he did and widely

He took notes on his phone
And the phone was the desk
That held the drawer
With all his notes in them
And the phone was what was left
On his desk

When he left.

– Dana St. Mary

editors note:

When the road turns left of left… – mh clay