The Man With The Imaginary Guitar

featured in the poetry forum September 24, 2022  :: 0 comments

You don’t want a job. Who does?
Who wants to be dumb enough
not to know that every slave
wears a collar? Collars and ties
tell themselves that because
they can slow down at the lights
and throw an empty can
at the losers waiting for the bus
they must be well up the ladder
they grease with their tongues.

But you need a job; starving
doesn’t suit. And walking the streets
in battered brown shoes
you see why you need that collar.
See the man playing imaginary guitar
on Button Street, a pick away
from where The Beatles bought
their first guitars. Or the woman
crouching in a dog-pissed doorway
rocking to an inaudible tune,
trying to remember the baby
they snatched before the cord
was cut. Or the desperate man
staring down his face
in the shoe-store window. Cheap lace-ups
for the interview; 29.99 a pair.

editors note:

We get in line where we can watch the ones who are getting in line where they can watch the ones who are getting in line… – mh clay

Boneheads

featured in the poetry forum August 12, 2021  :: 0 comments

must be exhausting
being you – the couple
of hundred times
I tried it
it nearly killed me,
obliging me to crack
my own bones
free from their skin
and whistle through them
that this life is splendid,
if not sane; not at all
like a life sitting
quietly around our campfire
with bones intact, finding
better songs to sing

editors note:

Let’s keep our bones to ourselves. All together now… – mh clay

Beat It Kid

featured in the poetry forum June 25, 2020  :: 0 comments

Beat The Reaper – Laurie Styvers (As heard on YouTube)

A seventies sun
cast a softer light
though a glass of
warm lemonade
than the tough taskmaster
the eighties re-modeled
and re-made.

She looks through
a haze of summer dust
to a soundtrack
of acoustic voices
ringing wood and warm
steel strings,
strong and gentle voices
cross-legged in tall grass

as the young sun bore down
and all the world was well

while the sun lay overhead
roasting marbles in our pockets
and we did not know,
bless the mercy of being young,
that summer breath
is quickly breathed

editors note:

We would have breathed deeper, had we known, right? – mh clay

And Counting

featured in the poetry forum May 11, 2019  :: 0 comments

30 seconds of summer
hardly seem sufficient
to kid myself
that I’ve been invited
to the same beach party
as everybody else, the one
that’s been swinging
since cavemen beat time
on rocks and skins:

but 30 seconds is all I take
to cross the road to the office
and squint regretfully
up at the sun, remembering
the boy I used to be
standing by the water crying
come on, come in…
– and look; my summer’s done

editors note:

A lifetime of waiting on that wave, till comes the end to endless. – mh clay

Green Machine

featured in the poetry forum June 26, 2018  :: 0 comments

Skin’s had enough of me,
wants to shake itself loose
and leave the meat behind:
strut down the street alone
and unafraid, look without fear
and love without fury.

Who needs a body these days?
Meat and bones rot and break,
but the soul’s a mirrorball
where you bust your moves
flash the ass and just know
I mean know

that you’re safe in the hollows
behind the eyes; they can stare
and glare as much as they like,
you’re nowhere and nothing,
neither man nor woman,
a fluid mess of flesh you can scratch
into any shape you dream,
then leave the rest to rot and ruin:
who needs meat these days?
The world’s turning vegan, baby.

editors note:

No shoulder, no chips; no stiff upper, no lips. Shape to shift as you please. – mh clay

A Break In The Weather

featured in the poetry forum June 16, 2017  :: 0 comments

On the first day back
you can still feel
the long wet gears switching
over and changing up.
See glints of glass in truck tyres
turning over and over,
nailing the asphalt with
every circuit. People moving
as though choreographed
in a dance where everyone
dances alone
until they suddenly lock step
and everyone in the crowd
sings the same song.

But after the first day
the holiday shrinks down to
the size of your suit,
and you realize how small
and fast your daily orbit is.
Trains become silent insects
pacing dead leaves, never
standing long enough to say

I am the man on the edge
of the platform who might be
timing a jump, or merely
timing a train. I live my vacation
deep in my bones. There’s coffee
with fresh cream, if you want it.

editors note:

Ah, well. Those holidays are only as good as we remember. (I’ll take mine black, thanks.) – mh clay

Aces Low

featured in the poetry forum December 28, 2016  :: 0 comments

Our words lead lives
of their own; while we sleep
they hang around bars
and get into fights,
spend time on their knees
down dirty back alleys
getting down with
other words

before crawling back home
and slipping behind
our teeth and tongues.

When we wake up
we want to spit them out
like flies in Coke,
wondering why a word
sober on Monday
can smell like a drunk
come Tuesday afternoon

when we throw it on the table
like a joker or an ace,
but the game won’t turn
our way.

editors note:

Let’s play our cards well in the days ahead; especially you folks in the big game, with us as their big stakes. – mh clay

Precipice

featured in the poetry forum January 12, 2016  :: 0 comments

Why so frightened
of the edge? Yes it’s dark
it’s strange,
gravity might easily
pull you under,
send you spinning down
into a space
that has to end somewhere,

but you love the dark, remember?
You love to tumble
then claw your way back up,

but every time you make it
aren’t you a little disappointed
that the climb was no higher,
that you returned
too much like yourself?

Maybe it’s better to shake
and squeal,
howl like a dog in chains
knowing you need
the chemical cosh
to live the way
they say you need to be living;

but look down, stand close,
are you ready to pay that price?
You do your best work
down there.

editors note:

Embrace the illness; create to the cure. – mh clay

My Latest Adventure

featured in the poetry forum April 27, 2015  :: 0 comments

Citalopram
they call it,
but I don’t know how
to pronounce it.
Sounds like fun though;
side-effects include
nausea, vomiting, distress,
pulse racing
suicidal thoughts
twitching, shaking,
loss of consciousness
leading to coma,
hallucinations
abnormal dreams
loss of appetite
over-eating

but sadly not bone fractures
or production of breast milk in men.

Perhaps I should go back to the Doctor
and complain;
or maybe take all the pills
at once
and see if the side-effects
come as one
or not at all

what the hell;
if you piss on a tree every day
it’s sure to grow up strange.

Sensitive to sunlight,
have problems passing water
vomiting and diarrhoea

but look at those leaves
brighter than any neon:
Doc, what else do you
want me to take?

editors note:

Big pharma calls this a cure: New symptoms to replace the old. Pissing on a tree, indeed! – mh clay

What’s Your Name, Son?

October 9, 2014  :: 0 comments

Look at this poor young bastard
sitting opposite me on the train
snakes in his ears
fingers on his applemac
grey shirt grey tie grey hair
grovelling through his paperwork
sniffing on his glue stick
spooning down yoghourt
filling the carriage with strawberries
and cream

then he throws back his head
as though launching a snowball
plucks a book from where
his wallet ought to be
and suddenly he’s on the road
with the dharma bums
smiling as though he’s picked up
his first pay-check.

Snaring my eye like a bee trapped on a train
he smiles a ‘good-luck’ smile
like a hangman with a noose
around his neck as I pick up my bag
then I’m gone;

knowing they’ll never put another beer
on my tab and I’ll never come back
to pay it
I imagine him thinking
as I once did

‘One day I’ll walk away
with enough money in my pocket
to go dreamin’ like Kerouac;

and when I’m blue
I’ll remember that poor old bastard
with a pink slip in his hand
I saw sober up tonight on the train.’