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.’

Break The Silence, Break The Skin

featured in the poetry forum October 9, 2014  :: 0 comments

Ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive…
Badlands/ Bruce Springsteen

It’s my call
whether to plunge the ragged nail
down through the supple skin
like a fist through a pane
of glass, lick the delirious rush
of red from my fingers
like honey from a hand
rammed deep in a hive

or shiver in silence,
say it’s a zen thing to cure
without curing, heal
minus healing,
shudder the loosened skin
like a cat drowning in a sack
snug as bones sliding out of joints,
or bullets circumnavigating barrels

no pain without gain:
but what if the pain
is the gain, if this is the only way
I can possess these bones
the way the sun owns fire
the way the job owns the mouth,

but never the skin
never the blood;

I can write the rush
in sharp red ink, paint myself red
head to tail, shiver and scream,
pain/gain
freedom’s whore
chained at last.

editors note:

Another fine spin on, or rather, red flow to the writer’s curse. Well done, and well come! – mh

Lava Coma

featured in the poetry forum April 18, 2014  :: 0 comments

I want to make
less sense, or maybe
no sense at all,
be a base-runner
leaping from phone-box
to window frame,
hillside to hammock;
word and wordsmith
unravelling a long scarf
whose colours stretch
half way round the world,
leaping so high
gravity gives up

and we spin out into a darkness
blacker than an unlit candle,
as bright as lava
the moment before
the volcano bursts
and the people on the hillside
have no time to run,
only stand and stare
and wait for their time
to burn.

editors note:

Fire and fuel, flash frozen to burn both as art; a Pompeiian performance piece. – mh

Higher Ground

featured in the poetry forum February 26, 2013  :: 0 comments

I want to write poems
the way fat old guys
in Dixieland days
played the banjo,
hard and strong

rhythm like a fast foot tapping
on the soil
teasing the plants
to grow a little faster,
a little higher

– don’t you want to get up
and taste
that fat old sun?

editors note:

Just like a two-handed, chin dripping bite of a hot pork sandwich. Yes!! Damn right, I do! – mh

Scull

featured in the poetry forum January 1, 2012  :: 0 comments

Nothing more
than a small un-painted boat,
cracked boards leaking water
no name on the stern

pulling gently on its chain
like an old dog
eager to be home;

but if I lie back on those boards
mouth open wide
to suckle a little rain
I would howl and howl
till the river roared back,

and between us
we broke our chains.

editors note:

What way to begin a year full of new is better than to swim in the stream up or down unfettered? – mh