featured in the poetry forum February 20, 2020  :: 0 comments

His neighbor’s sister is
Someone’s second wife,
Joy postponed, subdued;
But her mother,
Suspicious, surrounded by cats, had
Darkly demanded explanations,
Disowned the proper word,
Had there been something to pass on.
Helen doesn’t come up anymore.
He remembers taking his mother,
In her last days,
To an antique shop
To buy a wedding gift,
As if to make a point.

editors note:

Spirited spunk, spent on spite. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum December 6, 2019  :: 0 comments

He called out of the blue,
As they say,
One night in October
About five years ago,
A fraternity brother,
Out of touch—what?—fifty years or so.
We joked about college days,
The self-important fools we’d been,
Swapped synopses
Of our lives’ separate paths,
Offered congratulations
On things heard about or read,
Passing over sorrows.
I urged him to come back
For the reunion some year.
Sounds good, he said.
I wasn’t sure why he’d called.

Then last night, for no particular reason,
I looked for him on the Internet,
As people our age will do,
Found his obituary,
December 2010.
I thought to write his wife
(Untimely condolences
Worse than none)
And saw why he had called.

editors note:

Oof! Let’s stay in touch so we’ll not be out of touch. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum September 30, 2019  :: 0 comments

When his mother died,
Thirty years ago now,
The principal gave his school
A conference table.
It weathered the abuse
Of ninth-grade boys,
Restored, its polished cherry stain
An elegant gesture of memory.
But he was not surprised to learn
The other day, quite by chance,
That someone he did not know
Had judged it no longer needed
And packed it up for storage.

Where is the little plaque
That bore her name?

You can say these things happen,
That no one had set out
To dishonor her memory.
He has no wish to share
The resentments of the heirs
Of Confederates on horseback,
But he does wonder if
The people in Omaha
Had thought to give
The Rosenblatts a call.

editors note:

In the need for remembrance, we are Rosenblatts, all. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum July 21, 2019  :: 0 comments

Eight cars in the crescent driveway.
College students, renting rooms:
Not likely.
An opulent Sunday brunch,
Hollandaise seeping through moist eggs:
Too early.
Out-of-town wedding guests,
Gathered for muffins and coffee
And, in subverse whispers,
To critique the reception:
Early mourners, news just out,
Funeral arrangements

editors note:

Benedict is best when eaten with observation. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum May 4, 2019  :: 0 comments

Part One: 1944

Sunlight on broad strand,
Incoming tide: cousins wade
Unaware of war.

Part Two: 1958

College beach weekend:
Hot drive home, awful headache,
Wet bread on the floor.

Part Three: 2008

Ninth-floor oceanfront
Condos for sale:
Motel rooms in perpetuity.
Tuesday morning:
By the sofa,
Philip’s goggles, left behind,
Other people’s grandchildren
On the beach.

The receding tide
Sucks sand from under your feet:
Time slipping away.

editors note:

Was it the same sand? Was it the same us? Sifting, sifting… – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum December 16, 2018  :: 0 comments

How was your day,
Not having a good day:
Someone else’s lexicon.
One day follows another.
He thinks of bad days,
When his father died,
Losing his job:
You land on your feet,
It all works out.
Days and years merging,
A life:
Was it just last Thanksgiving
That she left…
Why he does not require
Going back to Quoddy Head,
Chooses to remember that blue day
In August of ’85.
One day follows another,
One year then the next.
He tries not to use
Words like segue.

editors note: Grief is an ever present hole; does not shrink with days, only grows more familiar.  – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum October 3, 2018  :: 0 comments

1. 2003

He had been known to paint over pine needles,
Gooey globs of soft pitch, even rotten boards:
One coat covers all!
At first it looks great,
Then little flecks of different shades of gray
Peek through: He decides it’s good enough,
A forbearance he would like to think a trait
That comes, for want of a better term, from God;
Or it may be what makes space ships fall from the sky.

2. 2018

I have stopped looking for metaphors
In things like this.
There will be a time
That will be the last time
That I paint the stoops,
But I don’t want to hear about it.
Instead I concentrate
On the smooth flow of the brush
Over pine, over the layered years
Of other shades of gray.
An ant wanders into a pool
Of acrylic latex, becomes mired
Then relieved of his suffering.
What must he have thought,
What did the dinosaurs think,
What will we think?
But then here comes his brother,
Unaware of danger.
Something to be said for being an ant.
If you were a Buddhist,
You wouldn’t paint the stoop at all.

editors note: Or, you could make your mantra, “Om Mane Paint My Stoop.” – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum July 29, 2018  :: 0 comments

Our desktop, age 12, expired quietly
Last night, after a long illness,
Surrounded by loved ones.
Address BF801276…

In its declining years
It was still able, slowly and with
Great difficulty, to find
The best price on gas,
The route to Nova Scotia.
But twelve is pretty old, even in doggy years,
So when we saw the dire language
On the blue screen,
We despaired of heroic cures
And entrusted it to the Cyberhospice
Who thought they could save
My e-mail list, some files;
Other things gone,
Like certain memories, irretrievable.

I used the library’s computer today—
New operating system—
And saw a list of files
Not meant for my eyes:
Resumé update,
Draft for Mom’s obituary.

If our new computer should last twelve years…
Better not to speculate.
I do hope they’ll return the
Old hard drive.
I plan to keep it
In an urn
On the mantle.

editors note:

Alas, this digital demise. RIP. DOS, DVR, RAM… LOL. (We welcome Robert to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum May 25, 2018  :: 0 comments

The mainline downtown parishes
Think it undignified
But you see along the road to Durham
Small churches with signs out front,
Some electronic these days
But most where you put up letters
One at a time
Like a 1940s theater marquee.
You wonder about the sources,
Magazines, newsletters, I guess,
The internet these days,
Some bromide
(God will accept broken hearts
But he must have all the pieces
Or Gossip is the Devil’s radio—
R U his DJ?)

Or to announce the next revival.
I noticed one near Mebane,
Just after New Year’s:
Pray hard for Lucas, it said.
But then they took it down.

editors note:

What would your sign say? For whom do you pray? – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum March 23, 2018  :: 0 comments

If you can arrange for adolescence
To coincide with your mother’s change of life,
That will yield a certain result.
Further, if you can arrange to be
An only child, that will heighten the effect.
I’m fairly sure she did not mean things
Exactly the way they sounded:
Well, he talks a good game
To my counselor, depositing me at sports camp;
Who calls that music
Of my Stan Getz LP.
Late in life, she complained about a concert
At the nursing home we’d found:
They were terrible, she said,
And I was in it.

Love is more complicated than you think.

Once or twice we smuggled in a little bourbon,
And she’d smile and click the ice cubes in her glass,
As she had done on Daisy Sanders’ porch
On Rust Pond in June of ’64,
And we would joke about
Those days, those bittersweet
Days of home.

editors note:

Young look forward and old look back; somewhere to meet in now. – mh clay