Hop On – Hop Off

featured in the poetry forum March 25, 2024  :: 0 comments

Sometimes we travel –
get away, go to,
begin to understand the mystery
of miles, of distance.
What “there” feels like
when we are finally “there,”
away from the “here”
we live with, live in, the day-to-day.
Those maps we looked at,
And the stories we read
have come to life,
a life in their rightful place,
a place we thought of as “there,”
and here we are.
This is how we become
a vague part of this place
with its streets and statuary
with its parks and plazas
its tourists and tour guides.
We hop on, hop off
walk cobblestones streets
sit in sidewalk cafes and
order from menus we can’t read.
We buy the moment
and we finally begin to feel
the “here” of this place.

editors note:

Conde Nast couldn’t describe it better. – mh clay

About Average

featured in the poetry forum June 1, 2023  :: 0 comments

On an average sort of day
In this average season
In an average town like
So many others
An average sort of guy
Is walking down this
Average sort of street
Average height, weight
Hair and coloring.
He nods if someone nods
He’ll even smile if that
Seems appropriate
In an average sort of way.
He’s the mean without
Being mean or anything
That would call attention.
He blends into the crowd
The crowd of average folks
Doing all the things that
Average folks do
He knows the answer to
All sorts of average things
Questions about his world
About his universe
And he dare not disturb

editors note:

Just making it to meh is no mean feat. – mh clay

Gets a Poem

featured in the poetry forum September 23, 2022  :: 0 comments

Some things don’t get a poem
Don’t even deserve a poem
Getting all dressed up in words
And devices, personified, metaphor’d
Even simile’d
Some things just don’t deserve being
Wrapped up in words, in sounds
Like today at the supermarket, I began
Thinking “Supermarket in California”
But got the Vermont version
Ragged people, couples pushing half
Empty carts, rarely speaking, rarely even
Looking beyond their cart and perhaps
Tonight’s dinner
And it doesn’t deserve a poem, or get one
A man in the parking lot flipped someone
His middle-finger
Never clear who was on the receiving end
Perhaps all of us
Didn’t flip the bird, a bird could take flight
And rise up out of the scene
Could become a symbol of hopes and dreams
Could land on that light-post and be all of us
There, a fitting image
The mythic bird in all of us
Or it could just turd down on us
like a real bird might
But as I said, some things don’t get a poem
Don’t even deserve one.

editors note:

When some things don’t, poets still do. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum April 28, 2022  :: 0 comments

It’s the second cup midafternoon
that seems essential,
something that completes my day.
Not like the morning one
that wakes me up,
stirs my brain, stirs my nerves
gets me ready for the day,
if “ready” is the right word.
The day begins and there I am
cup in hand. The day begins
unwinding its business, first this
then that, you know the kind of
stuff that stuffs our days
fills the time, the grind of hours
the weight of years. It’s almost
predictable, the stirring that first
cup brings lags after a while
slows down, lessens, fades,
becomes just a memory.
My morning self, the guy who was
going to get things done,
accomplished, stops being himself.
That’s when the second cup
shows up, becomes essential to
being me – a little dark roast, some
sweetener and I’m back in charge
of my day
at least until supper time.

editors note:

A cuppa drip to keep from being one. – mh clay

My Plumbing

featured in the poetry forum November 22, 2021  :: 0 comments

Standing there today, as always watching
I got to thinking about all the other plumbers
Who passed through here. Installing this
Unclogging that, here a leak, there a leak
Plunging, snaking – whole generations of
Them traipsing through the house, fixing
Plumbing, a little bit of everything. I have
Watched new toilets go in, sinks, pipes on
Their way in, on the way out, bathroom,
Kitchen, laundry room and more, sump
Pump and drains. It’s like the memories
Start piling on when today’s guy goes on
To ask about the set tub with its three
Different pipes – three generations of them
Now the fourth, standing right there, wrench
In hand, asking questions I never could answer.
I learned early that if I paused long enough
They came up with an answer and continued
On with me still looking on. Maybe I should call
It the house’s circulatory system leading fluid
Through these traps and elbows, or the digestive
System, filling, emptying. It’s here, was here before
Me, has followed me through the years, and will
Probably be here when I’m gone, so I’m standing
There watching plumbers plumb the depths of what
Can go wrong with the things we own.

editors note:

A (wrenching) metaphorical fun-fest. How’s your plumbing? – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum July 17, 2021  :: 0 comments

Lives collide, bump up against each other
in unusual ways. Like today, today I was
looking for Ernest Dowson’s poetry. Like
any good English major, I think of him in
terms of his most famous line about days
of wine and roses, one of those lines that
people in general remember but rarely go
beyond the movie to the poet who wrote
them, a young man who lived to be thirty-
two and is not read much anymore. My
father left me The Poems and Prose of
Ernest Dowson
, so when the urge hit to go
back over the poem, I had a source, a book
gathering dust in the family room bookcase.
When I opened it to look, I must admit I never
found the poem, I got distracted, a life bumped
into mine. In the book, acting as a bookmark
was a receipt for four grain raspberry, cookies
I guess, seventy-nine cents each, a total of
three sixteen. It was November 12, 2012 at
10:28 AM at the Ferrisburg Bakeshop in North
Ferrisburg, a quick stop I’m sure, something to
tide him over on yet another crowded day, used
a card so his name is there. There’s nothing odd
about all this – but why was this random receipt
in The Poems and Prose of Ernest Dowson, must
have been there for years, and why today with
me looking for days of wine and roses and finding
this small piece of someone else’s day?

editors note:

When the whys of our whats and whens wrest wonder. – mh clay

The Delay

featured in the poetry forum March 16, 2021  :: 0 comments

Delay, delayed are powerful words on their own.

They stop us in our tracks, sit us down, get us to
count the minutes sometimes, other times just
to play with our phones, look out the window to
see the weather for the first time today. Let’s say
our plane is delayed in Detroit, the announcement
slows down our day, gets us to start worrying about
connection, or just gets us to enjoy the alliteration
of our dilemma, delayed in Detroit. Unable to resist
you text your son, “dear Dan, damn, we’re delayed
in Detroit.” Delay is like that, a word that has its own
power, but might be hiding something stronger, like
postponed or terminated, and the people/person
saying delay are just holding off the inevitable, like
no planes will ever leave Detroit again, or American
Airlines has given up flying for some more productive
work. We delay, we are delayed, no one needs to
explain the word to us – we delay telling, we delay
admitting, we delay growing up, we’re delayed in our
quest for perfection, delayed in our delay. We’re
standing on the doorstep, delaying ringing the bell;
delay knocking, delay what we know is inevitable.

editors note:

The way to allay the angst in delay? Alliteration! – mh clay

This Investigation

featured in the poetry forum November 14, 2020  :: 0 comments

Let’s investigate this thoroughly, we can call in witnesses,
those few who were there, who saw what they saw, who
knew/know what was going on and waited till now to talk
about the things they saw, and then let’s call on experts to
walk us through the process, things they know and things
they can help us speculate about. It’s that time, a time of
reckoning, time to take stock, look for evidence, assemble
the data and anecdotal evidence, review the side issues, take
this bit and that, piece things together, the things that have
surfaced, become obvious in recent days. Let’s call together
the relevant committees and councils, call together forums
and neighborhood groupings, a special interest group, or two.
Let’s find answers, let’s find the questions we need to ask
them, to ask ourselves. Let’s consider the future, our children,
grandchildren, this strange bubble we live in, this cornfield
we’re walking through, this jigsaw puzzle we are putting
together, and calling home. Let’s cross this river, this inter-
section, this border now and ask why this keeps happening
and then start investigating this whole thing once more.

editors note:

Then we’ll know what we know until we don’t. – mh clay

Drug for This

featured in the poetry forum August 19, 2020  :: 0 comments

There must be a drug for this
You know, one that gets you
Up out of bed, stumbles you
Toward the medicine cabinet
To take another day’s worth,
First a capsule, then a tablet.
Then the day would begin to
Take shape, to take on color
Dimensions, it would take on
A perspective to unify all this.
There must be something I
Can take, you can take, just
The proper dose, of course.
Take it dry or with a slug of
Water, then wait a minute or
Two and the effects will kick
In, things will become clear
Once more, have a purpose
To appreciate, like a careful
Sonata, a well-turned sonnet,
Or a perfect sunset. There
Must be a drug for all of this,
These symptoms, this headache,
This aching, this pain. There
Must be a drug, there must be
A drug, something we could take
To make this all seem better.

editors note:

If there is, just say “Yes!” – mh clay

Plague Poem for Day Nineteen

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

I never was a numbers man; they lost me back
in grade school, while I spent my time looking
out the window, wishing, hoping for something,
anything beyond, plus this, minus that, numbers
progressing across the board, the fractions and
decimal points, times this, divided by that, as I sat
daydreaming, daydreaming about what I could be,
would be outside the space allotted for learning
this hide and seek, the sleight of hand of numbers,
but now, all these years later, while daydreaming
remains, has become a necessity, the numbers have
come into their own, have become the measure of
my world: my age, my weight, my blood pressure
progress at alarming rates, and now public concerns
play out in numbers that are hard to understand, the stock
market pogoes up and down, gets its own sub-screen
on the news, while scientists call out projected death
tolls, a hundred thousand, two hundred, like auctioneers
standing in front of charts/graphs giving a visual proof
of what the numbers can do – finally telling us we’re not
in grade school anymore.

editors note:

I wonder if one of those numbers is mine and if it’s… up? – mh clay