A BATTLE ROYALE

featured in the poetry forum August 27, 2017  :: 0 comments

At the end,
we lovers are weary as boxers.
This is no mattress
but a mat.
We’re not in bed.
Welcome to the ring.

Lovemaking is
a befuddling expression
There is no making,
only subtraction –
a pillaging
a wearing away.

It can only end in exhaustion.

And if one of us
doesn’t make a move soon
we’ll both be counted out.

But what about the “love” part
of the word you ask.

10-9-8-7…

editors note:

When either is a winner, both are losers. – mh clay

STREET SCENE

featured in the poetry forum May 10, 2017  :: 0 comments

So what is she wearing exactly?
Not a short, short dress,
but a man’s eyes.
Certainly not a tight halter top
over small breasts.
Those are fingers surely,
fingers with pink ruffles.
And the red of her nails
is just a mirage.
The paint is really smudged across
another’s churlish loins,
the ones beating like a heart
in his underpants.
And beneath it all,
there may be a body
but a body of what?
Of evidence?
Of water so clear
a guy can see his creepy face
in it?
So who is this one
traipsing up and down the sidewalk,
just this side of midnight,
as the cars roll slowly by?
She’s driving those cars.
And it’ll cost her.

editors note:

And the driven will pay… – mh clay

JOB APPLICATION

featured in the poetry forum January 24, 2017  :: 0 comments

He didn’t bark –
he was the icy type –
his look slowly worked the meal grinder,
turning my confidence into hamburger –
then, when he was done,
he dismissed me
with a fierce wind
that blew me from there
like a paper bag running frantic
down the sidewalk –

that’s why,
when you saw me later,
I was nothing more
than a battle-scarred frown
and a mind that felt frayed
like a run in a stocking –

I can still see your face,
small and inquisitive,
pretty but not too pretty,
picking my version of events
out of the conversation like lint –

what could I say?
I was lamb – he was slaughter –
my resume was as thin
as the paper it was typed upon –

but never mind –
the air was rustling up spring.
days met my demand
for something longer and warmer,
and the coffee shop smell
was strong and friendly enough
to hire me in a minute –

but life doesn’t end with one rough situation
so what if I didn’t get the job I wanted –

I got the job I didn’t want –
and my ultimate disappointment
did my confidence
a world of good.

editors note:

No self sale when not self sold. – mh clay

MARIE

featured in the poetry forum August 30, 2016  :: 0 comments

She was a nature lover
who never thought me green-blooded enough,
who figured my pale skin
should be more the color of dirt.
I remembered she was Marie
but the names of trees eluded me.
I picked a wildflower for her.
She informed me that I’d killed it.

She loved to ramble through the
woods for hours.
She despised the city.
Too loud, too busy, too smelly,
she said.
These were all my argumenta in favor.

She was as beautiful though
as the downtown at night after a rain shower,
soft and neon-colored,
sparkling where you’d least expect.
This comparison stayed with me.
Silent praise knows when it’s well off.

Once she took in an injured owl,
nursed it back to flying.
This is why I never understood it
when she tried to clip my wings.

editors note:

Animal husbandry; never easy for the animal. (Read another mad missive from John on his page; about making more than keeping – check it out.) – mh clay

THE OLD MAN GIVES UP CIGARETTES AGAIN

August 30, 2016  :: 0 comments

And then there was
your resolution to give
up cigarettes. Starting when?
Half an hour ago.
Broke it somewhere between
the liquor store and
the page one stories
on the nightly newscast.

Since you showed up
on my doorstep this morning,
what other vows
have been taken out and dusted off
before being shoved back
where they came from?

You puff away
in my heart
and in my head.
Then you mutter,
“This is it.
This is my very last.”

You put such distance
between now
and the last thing
I believed.

editors note:

We are experts in making them; keeping them is the real trick, though. – mh clay

VILLAGE LIFE

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

running bathwater on one side,
Miles Davis on the other,
above, the wannabe diva
screeching something from Turandot
in my one room and half-kitchen,
a small black and white TV,
a pawn shop guitar,
a purring ginger cat,
another neighbor in my one chair
drinking my last beer,
complaining how he can’t get a job,
down below, the small falafel shop
squeezed with, hungry dancers, artists,
on the sidewalk, a street musician
strumming the poor up for change,
a junkie crashed on a stoop,
the local whore grocery shopping
or is that the local grocery shopper whoring,
and all hi the name of
life experience, required research –
on the table, a second hand typewriter,
a blank sheet of paper,
awaiting the payoff

editors note:

Surrounded by verse,  nothing on the page… yet. – mh clay

SYLVIA

featured in the poetry forum June 1, 2015  :: 1 comment

woman in her parlor.
legs pressed together,
arms folded

framed document on the wall,
a degree in dentistry

speaks with a thick accent,
reads newspapers in Croatian

she wants to practice but can’t get certified,
so she cleans hotel rooms,
up before dawn,
tired by midday

her eyes are red with bloody dust,
her hands are gravel rough

any more sitting, thinking,
and she’d be tight and thin
and hard as a drill-bit

so sometimes,
she sits before the mirror,
tilts her head back,
tells herself to open wide

editors note:

We don’t make it easy here. Getting that job pulling teeth can be harder than pulling teeth. – mh clay

BERNIE

featured in the poetry forum December 17, 2014  :: 0 comments

He holds down a factory job
so he can keep the farm.
Early morning,
he punches in twice,
once via hands squeezing cow teats,
the second with a yellow card
slotted into an old gray time clock.

He’s a weary man
after a hard day on the assembly line,
a twilight in the tractor saddle,
plowing up the earth and gravel.

He could toss it in any time,
move to a tiny town apartment,
but the farm was in the family
when there was no town.
And under the bed,
there’s a box of photographs,
faded glossies of watching eyes.

On Sundays,
it’s church
and visiting his wife’s grave.
God’s no help,
Clara’s dead.
It’s a day of rest
with a hole in the middle.

editors note:

To look upon this life as “plight” robs us all of hope and light. – mh

BEACH DAY

June 14, 2014  :: 0 comments

There is always a sea crazy enough to want you.
to throw you back a hundred times but keep you ninety nine.

Imagine a life lived on the tide-line,
frothing feet and tanning absolution –

Seek out in the golden rays, your salt-washed friends.
Open up your heart to the skillet of the sands.

OUTING WHAT OUT AND ABOUT IS ABOUT

featured in the poetry forum June 14, 2014  :: 0 comments

The bomb in my head makes it through the neighborhood
without exploding. The Christian blood is safe. The floral
carts survive. The weather-vanes pitch and spin. Wind
is light-headed and blowing. No ghosts will travel on its
silky rails this night. My oaths have soothed at the sight
of people’s faces. My anger took a wrong turn down an
alley, is lost among the dusty corridors of a secondhand
bookstore. If the people only knew, they’d be cheering me.
For the black-rot of my heart is into penance not revenge.
And all because I didn’t stay in my room but took a stroll
through the dancing hearts, the comic hats, sidewalks like
ironed handkerchiefs, all around me, the crackle of human
electricity and fever, drivers in their traffic cradle, pigeons
handfed by the girl with the face most round and bright
as moons. The pain in this bottle of me didn’t realize
that it could glow incandescent. My footsteps weren’t thinking
clouds and now they are. I can’t provoke what is no
longer in me. The future makes such a fool of today
that I may as well enjoy it. Sorrow will have other
dark and gloomy hours. For now, the shepherd of niceties
has never watched over a more willing hapless sheep.
Little does he know, he saves it from its own wolves.

editors note:

Cooling off is emptying out in the shadow of the predator. In the with the good air… – mh