Blackberry Missive

featured in the poetry forum September 24, 2019  :: 0 comments

July afternoon in Virginia
our father skips lunch
to stride the dry pasture
in work brogues
to that thicket
where blackberries
sprout like purple
polka dots and
wades into the briars
and bees until
sweated out
with knuckles
and forearms bleeding
he’s filled two gallon
buckets. Why?

Because we love cobbler.

One of the things
the war took out of Daddy
you’d have to guess
was trust in saying much.
So what if he never
told me that thing,
I mean what’s the worth
in words when you
can taste it like that?

editors note:

Here’s to “that thing” however we express it. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum April 15, 2019  :: 0 comments

We thought, I guess, that we could pretend it was all just a tv reality show on a station we didn’t get. Where they jack boys (and girls) up on 5-Hour Energy shots, wrap them in Kevlar and canvas, and drop them in the desert with weapons out of space movies to rampage or whatever. Where some nerd in a silo in Charlottesville steers a joystick swabbed with steri-wipes, what the President calls surgical strikes, which just means somebody else does the cleanup. The frakking channel, the oil shale channel, the hole in the ocean floor channel. The mystery series: bee deaths, whale beachings, backyard coyotes, polar bear strandings, fire ants, the waning of butterflies. To us it’s senseless: the campus gang rapes, the trigger-happy cops, the arsonists, students with automatic rifles gone rogue, the suicides, the cancers buying radiologists condos. We buy better locks, rig cameras in the garage, work two jobs when we can find them. We do get that the circle of those we can trust dwindles by the year. Old farmer’s sayings we’ve forgotten or snort at, beer bubbling from our snouts. Things like, chickens come home to roost, reap what you sow, red sky at morning, the whole is greater…

editors note:

And, you can lead a horse… Wait, where’s the water? (We welcome Tony to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay


March 9, 2019  :: 2 comments

“They tell me I shot myself in the chin, shot somebody else, too, but I don’t think that’s right. What happened was I fell off a fruit wagon.” That’s Dr. Wagner. He’s a pharmacist, had his own small town pharmacy out in the Valley for years, seemed fine, until this happened. I’m his occupational therapist. It’s my job to determine …


featured in the poetry forum January 25, 2019  :: 0 comments

I’ve tried to imagine trees.
Thin giants with boisterous heads
mirrored in down-reaching roots
and filmy almost translucent
solar panels unfurled along their limbs.

A protective layer called bark
sometimes scaly or it could be smooth as skin.
And their only movement was in growth
each year of the sun adding a ring of width
some meters to their up yearn
to the sky and down stretch in the nourishing soil.*

They lived as long as (some longer than) we do.
Cradled all sorts of mythical beasts – beetles,
bees, a quick thing called a squirrel, even those
with feathery wings and twiggy toes.**

But let’s focus just now on the one
tree and then another near it.
Some say they spoke among themselves
feeding oxygen to the sky their aspiration
a gift of breath to us oh here we go again.

Why do all my musings come back
to this our crime? To learn too late
what we might have known all along
that recollection cannot match the
thing remembered. That death
comes slowly until it doesn’t. That
more goes with the rustling of leaves
than their undeciphered whisper.
I can almost imagine a tree.

*Next week’s imaginative reflection.

**See annual celebration of Earthian Nature.

editors note:

What’s concrete now, becomes concept later; when later is too late? That’s subversive! – mh clay

January 18, 2019  :: 0 comments

Mad Swirl welcomes to the visual arts stage, Virginia-based writer and photographer, Tony Gentry. The thing that spoke most loudly to us from Gentry’s work is the otherwise everyday nature of that which seems to beckon to him. There is something ironic to some of his photographs – a bride walking down a dirty city-street with her groom in tow or a reference to magic on a dingy, graffiti-covered surface. This is the kind of mundane madness that we’re talking about – the kind that beckons to Tony and beckons to us, too, when we’re looking for it. There is art and magic and madness surrounding us all. We’re just thankful that Tony knows exactly how to capture it. ~ Madelyn Olson

In Pursuit of Magic
Old Canal, Downtown Richmond
Love Coming and Going
Rotten Sneaker
Wall Beneath High Line, NYC


featured in the poetry forum November 18, 2018  :: 0 comments

In my country
we only dressed for church
and let our privates dangle
otherwise. We studied
the webs of spiders, the
flight of swallows, the
whims of the wind.

We never learned much.
How to catch a fish.
How to dip in dance.
How to wait out the weather.

Back there we thought
that was enough. We
honored dogs, fed them first,
sprawled in the sun and tried
to howl in greeting.

We had some rules. People
brought things they’d found
to church and took other
things home. Sometimes
just a smooth rock or a flower
or a feather.

It was like touch chess here.
If you picked it up you had to
keep it and if you brought
it back the next week
people shook their heads.

But nobody would bite you,
not for that. I left before
I learned how we reproduced.
Maybe the same as here, dipping
and howling. I’m trying to
figure it out. What’s
different, what’s the same.

I’d go back. It doesn’t seem
right to wear jeans all day
scrunched on a sofa out of the sun.
I miss my dog. But I’ll
get over it. It’s part of the game.
I gave this girl a pebble
and she smiled.

editors note:

Custom can be consternation for newcomers. – mh clay