Girl Next Door

October 13, 2018  :: 0 comments

After racing stop signs jutting from small town Texas school buses dull in pre-dawn’s sunray deprivation, I park where we used to play. Tossing basketballs into a net without a backboard, occasionally one would volley next door where my friend’s dying heart was pushed by an electric wheelchair and a young shaking hand. A teenage boy dying from ataxia, the …

Burn Victim

featured in the poetry forum September 30, 2018  :: 0 comments

Her exes have guitars or play guitars
or gave her a ring.
I leave behind a lit refrigerator light to storm
drunk into summer’s inferno and lose my keys.
I know strings, how they break from fingers.
California apologized for winter wildfires, Texas never
offers thick skin for seasons or oranges from trees
to feed and keep quiet until flames claim yards.

From glass, an unlocked bedroom window,
I bled onto a pillow under open air, a lave of falling ash.
Hearing gridlock before tomorrow’s first brake light,
all I say to the burning atmosphere is
Let me be the crack in your concrete
as I think about our buried first poem,
the one about traffic and kissing
at every stop.

But now, it stops with ash on the wind,
torn down with words I put back to my teeth
to talk backwards and build her up a world.

editors note: We can count down, but can’t start up anew. The burns are 3rd degree… – mh clay

Rattlesnake Seeds

featured in the poetry forum July 4, 2018  :: 0 comments

Too much sleep to believe fireworks come twice a year.
Wish for the darkest night of human life tonight
through blinks, light bleeds as nettles dig
in flip flop heels before taking thorns home.

Summer burrs burrow, eyes lock with bitter stars.
Braces stain teeth to charred briquet legs.

Best not believe in heat, it’s here for us all,
fire for those below waiting on explosions to chase
shade under seats to the suffering of sticker arms,
rattlesnake seeds, hot dog bites spit from bit lips.

Believe fireworks can do anything but fall
as we will
never glance down, never see where we are.

Rarely do our explosions die alone
as we do
not whisper if this is summer’s funeral.

editors note: When year after year becomes year-after-year, we struggle to make meaning from the melee. What do we mean, anyway? - mh clay

Who Guards the Lifeguards?

June 9, 2018  :: 0 comments

“Dos horas,” their mother said before rolling up the windows and sitting in the music of air conditioning and radio. Bass shook their peeled back window little league football numbers. The Lopez brothers breathed on reflex as they walked into the volunteer fire department. Voting, city meetings concerning softball field noise violations, and courses on how to give life to …

Texas Oceanfront Property

April 21, 2018  :: 0 comments

“Let’s go into the blue,” was how I invited her to trespass onto the backyard dock. We weren’t prepared for more murk than color over our borrowed sludge lagoon. Sand was as far away as winter and we had splintery wood planks offering our bodies to lake water dragged twice this year already. Sounds of tree services already hacking and …

White Meat

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

Give thanks enemies don’t throw the best feasts.
Green bean butter knives spread pre-prayer rolls passed from
our honored guest prophet priest president with a mouth for
cranberries oozing from tin cans like sick cow tongues
still wasting lives building memories uninvited to Thanksgiving.

He listens, our prophet priest president, with dichroic interest.
Vietnam Dad didn’t collect bodies, only stories repeating
from when wide open Austin carried tower bullets to forever,
but not to Vietnam where Dad was first called a racist.
“I’m Irish,
nothing but bad potatoes, finger splinters, nothing to look at
but when I do look into a mirror, at least I don’t see
a nigger.”

Our prophet priest president asks to give thanks.

Give thanks slow animals don’t think quickly.
Give thanks all time is a food pyramid.
Give thanks it’s not sugar but it’s sweet.
Give thanks stuffing crawls inside by design.
Give thanks our skeletons always fit in last season’s coat.
Give thanks! Change the world or change the channel!

Give thanks you’ll get a eulogy and hear even more.
Give thanks your shoes have a goddess’s name, your soul’s saved.
Give thanks you can spell CRUCIFIX but never need one.
Give thanks you don’t know the black hole of a gun barrel.
Give thanks you don’t know why the black hole on your heart

gives thanks.

Give thanks we’re not dead, we only slouch that way.
Give thanks we don’t hate, we only talk that way.

Winds ring trees Irish roughhewed into pews for natives
out of mountains, hungry for Irish daughters and their saving god,
potatoes that never see a damn thing, especially not disease,
prophet priest president
who all the whites know and love as much as whites can—
with respect.
Corncobs don’t hear whispered new words, new languages
as honey licked off broken fingers dirtied by church bombings
and suppertime phone screens cataloging absurd scriptures.
One’s eyes see all, warm bodies under bridges, cold corpses on asphalt,
anthologies of new wars for new decades in new billion-year-old light.
Loud prayers of suppers, silence in streets, entertainment for a prophet
priest
president.

Championed our best but bled of goodness from wrists dripping
to the ground where America was made, where spit dark clay made men
draw lines in backs kept from our front door while
behind locked windows and open mouths sits a country that doesn’t exist
but it’s been built by hand by generations by blessing
at the devil’s right hand, so grab your loved one to your left for grace.

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin vineyards in bloom.
Feed for the wolves are starved and our mouths are empty.

We’re served
what animals become when they don’t run, we’re what happens when they sit
with an invited prophet priest president who loves that we don’t hold light,
the phantom touch of what we should be
never returns
as canned cranberries spill out in the shape they were contained.

editors note: Oh, the thanks we could thank until, like stuffed turkeys, we're thanked full. Let's shirk the shameful and thank again! - mh clay

Pain and Perfume

November 18, 2017  :: 0 comments

The sandwich shop sneeze guard is layered with disgust, a windshield driven through a locust plague. Braelynn leaves the stack of hardening foot-long shells of bread to clean the circular common patio table of ladies who arrived fifteen minutes until closing time in a Baptist shuttle to order twelve six inch tuna sandwiches. No chips, diet Pepsis. Across the floor, …

Hands of Home

July 22, 2017  :: 0 comments

Chevy stepside rust fades when Texas horizons distort from blue to grey, promising only the crawl of darkness. Stark against crepuscular atmosphere slants a white house filthy from foundation to deteriorated shingles. The frame sags into dry Texas soil. Ancient worms and creation’s bones partially devour what’s inside, memories of no one who returns here, hands in pockets hoping to …

Blanco

May 6, 2017  :: 0 comments

Rubber tires don’t stick to asphalt in August as boys stick to bragging while drinking. Longnecks and short stories in a shuttlebus jammed on a Texas highway nowhere near wide enough. “Don’t say anything about what we’re talking about, we’re different. We just needed to get out of high school and grow.” I assure groomsmen and their groom I’m as …

Harvest Road

February 10, 2017  :: 0 comments

Harvest Road took women and no one was bothered. From God’s eye and Internet maps it was easy to discover the street but miss sidewalk cracks where dark things with wet skin made night sounds, piles of departed and disfigured pets found under lost animal posters, and ghostly annual October Klansmen hanging in mesquite trees. Karen absorbed all this on …