Below the Summit

featured in the poetry forum September 11, 2018  :: 0 comments

Half staffed flags used to be a rarity but sadly, not so much these days in this here land I so love.

I’m from the X’d generation that was born into believing that we were the best nation in the world but swiftly learned soon after, from perpetual disillusionments, the disappointing lesson that no, we are not.

We’re just the cracked & shedded skin of the glorious U S of A that we used to be.

These days “we the people” of these “united” States are quite divided between:

Left and right…
Brown and Black and White…
Dems and Reps…
Libs & Tea Partiers…
Haves and the eternal have nots…
Scientists and religious zealots…
Gun-toters and gun controllers…
Me too’s and their #’d accused…
Baby boomer gloom’s and millennial’s baby shoe blues…

We once stood united in our dividedness but the state of our current union is slipping below the summit and our half staffed flags are living proof that we are on our deathbed. Every day our symptoms get worse. Daily headline news crawls report on the condition this Nation is in. Each beat we get closer to the throes of death.

What this time has warranted this visual symbol of 1) respect 2) mourning 3) distress? Was it yet another sad school shooting? or a man-made and/or mother nature disaster? or a mass killing? or a domestic terrorist attack? or some dignitary death?…

I shake my head in disbelief at the immense grief and grave danger our country is on the precipice of experiencing. We are in the lousy care of loud-meowed fat cats who sit back, cleaning their teeth, readying themselves for the feast they are about to receive. These fat cat vs. mouse games they play, the battles they wage, these are the Wars that sit ominously on our horizon:

Race Wars;
Economy Wars;
Class Wars;
Environmental Wars;
Terrorist Wars;
Immigration Wars;
Technology Wars;
Second Amendment Wars;
World War Wars

… the list could go on if I wasn’t so mad and saddened by what I see. Sadly, this is our reality.

So now, when I see the all-too-common half-staffed flag, I think to myself – this display is not for anything specific but a general statement about the state of this dying divided union.

The red white and blue’s stunted ascent halfway up the pole shows how this once great nation of ours is on life-support, quickly dying and the half-staffed flag is in mourning for what we the people were and what that sickly Stars and Stripes once stood for.

Epilogue: I woke up today to see the flags once again blowing freely in the breezes, the sun rays kissing the withered edges, a lone bird perched proudly upon the mast and a feeling creeped in, awakening in me again a sense of hope and never dying pride for this land, OUR land, of the free.

editors note:

Consider this. Choose hope... (Thanks to our Ed-in-Chief for his honest expose.) - mh clay

The Fact Is…

December 24, 2017  :: 0 comments

…you are a Vet for Life.

You raised your right hand and took the sacred oath of enlistment to defend the Constitution of the United States.

Your reasons for enlistment are as diverse as your ranks. Some enlisted for educational benefits. Some for monies to raise a family. Some were drafted. All served because of a sense of duty to our great Nation.

Some are city slickers. Others are country boys. Some hailed from Texas and Illinois, California and New York, and…

The fact is, you came from all over this great Nation of ours to serve.

Some were called to fight, eye-witnessing the horrors and destructions of war.

Some served in peacetime, maintaining the liberties most take for granted.

The fact is, you all served. You were ready, able and willing to put your lives down for God, for Country, for us.

Some did 4 year tours. Some 6… 8… 12… and a few went all the way to retirement.

Some went on to became teachers, designers, technicians, engineers, mechanics, electricians, truck drivers, public servants…

The fact is, wherever you went and whatever profession you chose, you carried with you the pride and legacy of being a Veteran.

You stood out from the crowd. Maybe it was the way you walked and talked that gave you away. Or perhaps a tattoo sporting your branch gave a clue.

More than likely it was the way you conducted yourself with discipline, with military bearing, with initiative. You have been instilled with Honor, with Courage, with Commitment.

The fact is, you ARE a different breed.

You ARE warriors.

You were, ARE and always will be Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsman.

The fact is, you are a Vet for Life!

You know the kinship of brotherhood/sisterhood.

You understand what camaraderie and esprit de corps are all about.

The fact is, you were THERE and you did do THAT.

Although some may not be as lean, mean or green as we you were in your glory days, you are a Veteran, still true to our great Nation, and always, always faithful.

The fact is, your ranks are as diverse as the Country you served.

The fact is, when you hear the opening lines, “Oh say can you see…”, you stand at attention, feeling a sense of tremendous pride, knowing that you and your Brothers and Sisters in arms did your part in serving the United States of America.

The fact is…

editors note: I work for the Exchange (aka AAFES). We recently welcomed home all honorably discharged Veterans back to their military family thru the new online shopping benefit. As part of our efforts to get the word out to a great Nation filled to the gills with my fellow Veterans, the Exchange became a sponsor of ESPN's Armed Forces Bowl. One of the perks of this sponsorship is that we have not one, but TWO commercial spots that will air on national TV during the game. This will be the first time the Exchange will be showing national ads! As we were coming up with concepts for these historic adverts, my boss asked if I had any poetic copy I could write for one of the spots. Of course, I enthusiastically said "YES!" Not only did the powers-that-be like my poetic copy, they also liked my voice-over work and decided to use both in both ads and the fact is... the rest is history! - jo

The Fat Man Cometh

featured in the poetry forum December 23, 2017  :: 0 comments

The anticipation of the fat man’s arrival sits thickly, come somewheres ‘round mid-November.

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why…

Word on the street is it’s best yo watch out cos He’s comin’ back ‘round to town. The weakest amongst them weep and cry out in fear. They start to panic, knowin’ He’s near. A quick come-to-Jesus moment and their pitiful pouts turn to saccharine shouts of fabricated goodness and wholesomeness. But the Fat Man; oh, He knows by the tingle on of His chubby crimsoned nose that this is just a plotted ploy to get on His good side.

He’s making a list
He’s checking it twice;
He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice…

Oh, no, no! Ol’ Kris “Fat Man” Kringle is too cool to be fooled or foiled. He steps up His stalking game, lurking behind every shadow to see if this crew of misfit naives have been angels or devils. Of course most are a blended mix of both. That don’t matter much cos when it comes down to it, the Fat Man’s list has no wiggle room. You’re either Naughty or Nice. Period. No grays on His listed inventory of souls. Only black and white.

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows when you’ve been bad or good…

Oh, He sees how the sheep sleep fitfully with trembling visions of the unthinkable repercussions prancing in their heads. When they awake from their long winter’s slumber, He’s there, too, watching and waiting, baiting them. The Fat Man is tireless in his trailings, noting the things they do and don’t do. The Fat Man demands goodness! He will stop at no end to ensure His holiday bidding be done!

So be good for goodness sake!…

Ready or not, the Fat Man IS comin’ to town real soon for His annual Judgment Day. And all you naughty souls best change your ways and pray to baby Jesus that you still have time to make His Nice list.

editors note: Want candy or coal? Let's be nice this season; lessen your carbon footprint. Ho, ho, ho! (Thanks to Johnny O, our Chief Ed and Master of the Swirl, for this Holiday warning.) - mh clay

Tales of a Grunt’s Battered Battle Boots

November 11, 2017  :: 0 comments

If these well-worn, war-torn, badly sand beaten, sad looking field boots had a voice, the tales they would tell of scenes they had seen when they once enveloped this grunt’s feet. As I pulled these battered boots from an old forgotten box of Marine Corps memorabilia that I was sifting thru, this duo spoke to me and presented the keys …

I’m Through

featured in the poetry forum September 23, 2017  :: 0 comments

Things aren’t like
They used to be
These days
Simplicity is a rarity
Complications cloud
Our minds
Distractions of all kinds
Threaten to sway
The things we say
Or dare not
To declare
These pointless
points of view
Dulling all our
Shining hues
Just trying to cope
And hang on to hope

Nope. I’m through.

Things don’t look like
They used to look
These days
It’s rare to find
An open book
We’re mindless drones
Noses bent to phones
Oblivious to the swirling
Mad world that’s unfurling
All around us
Hypnotized by the eye
Of the corporate beast
Who feasts on our meat
And pickpockets our souls

No. I’m through.

Things don’t feel like
They used to feel
These days
The fuzzed up line
Between fiction and real
Has got us twisted
In some unreal reality
All the while technology
Messes up our psychology
Creating prescriptions
For made-up maladies
Manufactured by the pharmaceutical
Companies owned and
controlled by this so-called
Society we call democracy
It’s a fucking travesty.

Not me. I’m through.

It’s due time we
Let loose of the line
Cut the tie
That binds our minds
And blinds our eyes
Make us a society
That’s yours and mine
Say enough is too much
Kick this crippling crutch
And touch reality
Taste it and see it
And really feel it
Be all up in it
Seeking and finding
Colliding the new world
We got duped into buying
With the old world
We thought was dying
And was long lost
and forgotten
It’s not

All we need to do
Is say we’re through.

editors note: Yes, we are! (Thanks for these encouraging words from our Chief Ed.) - mh clay

She whispers to me

featured in the poetry forum May 6, 2017  :: 2 comments

She whispers to me
Lures me in
With open arms
She’s ready.
But then again…
She’s always ready

I gently caress her
And she greets me
With her seductive smile
Her sultry purr
She’s always so
Wickedly friendly

But I’m no fool
I respect her wild fiery
Wide chromed hips
I know she’s in charge
She’s thrown me & shown me
A time or two

I ride her curves
Her fine figure glides
I hold her tightly
Her rubber kisses
Caress the concrete canvas

Her bright eye lights
Pierce the tunnel night
We fly by cages
Waging silent bets on
What move we’ll make next

Heading home thru
Sleeping Big D streets
Green-light tempo
Keeping our beat
Our moans get thrown
Playfully ricocheting off
Urban canyon walls

We become one
Her heartbeat pistons
Twisting and turning
Our journey swirlin madly
As our smooth move grooves
Burn the miles away

editors note: Ain't no love like scooter love! - mh clay

Merry Marshmallowed Memories

December 23, 2016  :: 4 comments

’twas 1978, early morn on the eve of all Eves, snow came crashing in waves of big fat flakes that blasted our dingy urban world in a blanket of white wintry innocence. As I recall decades later, with nostalgic-tinted glasses, the mundane neighborhood landscape seemed to turn magical as I looked out the fogged-up windows and saw this dream scene. …

It Hasn’t Happened Yet

featured in the poetry forum September 10, 2016  :: 0 comments

I wake up optimistic with high hopes in my heart that today will be the day that happiness, peace and love will flow our way. I day dream that by the time my head hits pillow this night and sleep slips slyly across my soul, that a smile will slide upon my lips and I will remember why I thought it was worth waking up today. It hasn’t happened yet.

I pray. I plead with God to wash upon us a wave of peace and love and understanding. I beg that He bless us one and all… all people of all colors and creeds in all places and nations, the young and old, the sick and the healthy, the poor and the wealthy, the sad and the happy, the sleeping and the awake, the warring and the peaceful, the quick and the dead. I feel my spiel is sincerely real and that if all this making good intentions and giving heartfelt prayers and creating my manifestations, if all this stuff really works, it’ll come true. But, it hasn’t happened yet.

I sit in predawn parking lot at work and write out my untarnished thoughts of the day to come. I intend to write a poem that speaks of the peaceful and easy feelings that I seek in this world of ours. I strive to find the right words and meanings that will teach and learn me the propitiousness of love. Oh, how we homo-sapiens love us some good love! But that divine inspiration that used to sit so closely to me just isn’t hanging around these days. No matter how hard I beg, she alludes me. I open my notebook to let her write her song but she doesn’t. She drops the pen and says she’ll come back again. But it hasn’t happened yet.

Too many days I wake up to hear the headline news that makes me shake my head in disbelief that we humans can be so inhumane to one another. Another white cop shoots another black man for reasons I’ll never understand. The loudmouth bullshit-inaire and the fortunate daughter cHillary throwing barbed sound bites at each other, leaving me isolated in the growing middle. Another catastrophic storm/fire/quake bubbling from something we may or may have not done. Extinguishing creatures whose fate should have never been left in our fucked up hands. My faith in my fellow man is dwindling down the more my optimistic smile turns to pessimistic frown. I pray someone, anyone (not it!) save us from ourselves! I hear my inner scream and say “OK, OK I’ll do my part” hoping a whole lot more like me are trying too and that our collective push will move this fucking needle back to good. But no matter how hard I try and as much as I wish it would, it hasn’t happened yet.

Usually, right about now when I get into these funky punky poetic moods I’ll turn it around at the end with an AHA moment so that all this “woe is me and we and he and she” that I just spewed upon your senses, is all OK. A nicely wrapped insight with a bow of hope to top this poetic puke. I’m even trying to find one now, as I tip tap these final words onto this page knowing damn straight that I got to get this write right. But, alas, this poem has ended, and it hasn’t happened yet.

editors note: Keep writing, hoping, loving, helping. Just cuz it hasn't, doesn't mean it won't. Yes! (Read another of our Chief Editor's mad missives on his page; a departure from the norm - check it out.)- mh clay

Departure

September 10, 2016  :: 3 comments

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign. If you haven’t already done so, please stow your carry-on luggage underneath the seat in front of you or in an overhead bin. Please take your seat and fasten your seat belt. And also make sure your seat back and folding trays are in their full upright position.”

Jet airliners get in line. Biding their time to ride the blue sky. All these souls crammed into all these vessels, nestled closely together, a hive of hundreds of humans. Our destinations sit softly in our hive hearts and minds. Business folk silently sit and rub shoulders with chatting children, excited vacationers and commuting workers all herded together in this pill shaped vessel with birds wings. As the engines start to scream and this machine takes flight, we hold on with all our might and pray to the God of our choice that this inhuman act of flying the friendly skies is a safe one.

“Flight attendants, prepare for take-off please.”

(Watching the ground sink slowly beneath my wing side seat, I seek to find a familiar rooftop or road to remind me I am leaving my hometown for the umpteenth time now. I can feel the strings of attachment once again snapping and my heart strings tearing away as I say a silent farewell to my hometown family and friends. Thanks for the many colorful and meaningful meetings and greetings, till we meet again I will keep you safe in my heart-shaped box of memories.)

A child cries out. A mother soothes and shushes him saying it’ll be alright now. Ears popping as the ground keeps dropping, the details of the housetops and street scenes of morning traffic slip away into a miniature model of sorts. The rivers and lakes and forests and farmlands become nothing more than the patchwork of an earthly quilt as we, on AA Flight 123, become a mere shadow on the ground. We, bound for Big D, are nothing more than a li’l bird flying away, way up in the sky.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned off the Fasten Seat Belt sign, and you may now move around the cabin. However we always recommend to keep your seat belt fastened while you’re seated.”

(I wave goodbye to what I’ve known. I bid adieu to the few down there who will always have a piece of my heart. I silently promise this Midwest heartland that I’ll be back. I pray that I will be blessed to do so once again, sooner than later.)

We, the passengers of flight 123, settle into our rented seats. Some sit back with eyes closed, trying to catch a few winks. Others open up newspapers, magazines, books, laptops, iDevices, and try to forget that we are soaring tens of thousands of feet above our Mother, hurtling thru space at several hundred miles per hour. For this brief 1 hour and 54 minutes of flight time we are a vagabond family of sorts. Should this be our final flight, these souls will be the last ones we will know. We pray that this fact won’t be so.

(As the engines hum settles down and this artificial bird levels out, I do my best to sit back, relax, and remind myself to forget the feeling of nostalgia that’s already threatening to settle in. I close my eyes and await a fitful sleep to wash over me)

“Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened…”

(The wheels touch down in my home-away-from-hometown. And as this flying pill taxis its way towards the gate, I feel that all too familiar numbness once again descend upon me.)

editors note: So hard to have heart when you've left it behind. Take home with you. - mh clay

Father’s Tattered Coat

featured in the poetry forum February 27, 2016  :: 0 comments

Father’s hand-me-down coat

sits heavily upon slouching shoulders.
Weights in its’ tatters.
Slows the maneuvers of
the son’s wayward feet.
Weaving down midnight’s pathways…

He, burdened with what
was never asked for.
This coat, he inherited.

After too many years,
the son’s tailor hands
and artisan’s care altered
the too long sleeves,
darned the moth eaten pockets,
sewed the weather beaten collar,
reinforced the cuffs with
leather and wool.

He keeps out the cold now,
shivers no more.
Yet suffers in summer heat
in beads of sweat and tears.
But still, he wears
father’s hand-me-down coat.

With the humbled pride
of a rehab’d hobo
who has finally accepted his lot,
he is his father’s son.

And now, with care,
father’s coat hangs right there,
biding its’ time
to be handed down again.

editors note: The magic, mythical family mantle, passed from pater to progeny - perpetually. (read another one of our Founder & Chief Editor's mad missives on his page; a real squirrel hunt - check it out!) - mh clay