Photoengrave, Attuned to Shadow

featured in the poetry forum April 20, 2019  :: 0 comments

Light chased and you carried its weight.
When we spoke, you saw, illuminated our words.
Can’t photograph breaths but what’s breathing,
used to speaking to ghosts, rarely seeing ourselves
lucky with eyes but few measure colors between black and white.

How we’re attuned to shadows isn’t as beautiful as how
we’re exposed in light that speaks for our story.

We see you in dark rooms, measuring
what we see, as we are, how we are.

Vision is but eyes aren’t perpetual so hold to this—
as you saw us
as we hope we sound—profound, ignited bends in shades.

Permanent swirls in static.

editors note:

This is Tyler’s tribute to our friend and Mad Brother, Dan Rodriguez. Dan has moved on to the next great adventure and we will miss him greatly. No one could bring our words to light like he could. – mh clay

Dead Music Capital of the World

featured in the poetry forum February 20, 2019  :: 0 comments

6th Street, hanging as Jesus Christ’s parents
under their son’s cross, hoping he plays a tune, that dying
is an act for city lights while dirt birds perch
in unfinished future rises freed from walls for now,
not spot lit silver cast from bank windows above

6th Street telephone pole people stuck wearing deep
staples from artists before stripped away by a curbside
rock star Christ with god on a guitar for one song
for the end about how Heaven doesn’t have husbands or wives.

6th Street, I’ll pry by teeth until I taste pecan shells,
bite bare all that’s shucked underneath to taste
the middle of what’s not the best but not the worst on
uneven sidewalks as trusting as a liar’s song escaping
bridge ribs while eastward bats bend sunset waves.

6th Street fangs only for small things, never your neck (that’s mine)
in bars leaned as alchemic notebooks with potions to become
monsters eating cities left behind by light
feet on streets, potholes filled by fallen faces.

6th Street posts holed up as hearts.
No matter who hangs, never
take them down to hold.

See only yourself in asphalt as dusk
skidding brake lights spell out
never go home.

editors note:

To be a rock god (not cod), where fishers of men string guitars (not nets) to strum up new believers. – mh clay

The Worst It

January 5, 2019  :: 0 comments

After prayers for small town dreams, miniature struggles for good grades to play sports before graduating to find someone to get caught up in a wedding proposal so ladies in room 39 can tally praises or prayer requests, Janice speaks wearing the elbow chub of Sunday school authority, “And now we can see there’s a new face with us today.” …


featured in the poetry forum December 21, 2018  :: 0 comments

Sporadic stone edges aren’t precious gifts
inside wide throats swallowing sparse praise.

Fingers in orange soil pull rootless weeds—
miracles, gifts never asked for but forced on all.

The secret is never keep it to yourself.

Insistent life breaks earth, opens hope that
our dead don’t rise as earth spits crooked flowers.

What’s given are wildflowers grown on buried grandfathers
never knowing love should flow like whiskey off chins.

Christ’s birthplace of hay accepts kings
but desires sacrifice in all shades between
mountains, marred seas, any world bodies drop.

Field weeds spill, bless corners of carpet church steps.
Wrinkled petals under fingernails stain as blood.

editors note:

What plants, pulled, can plant; perceptions, previews, post-mortems. – mh clay

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

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