featured in the poetry forum December 19, 2022  :: 0 comments

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart/ The very next day, you threw it away…

Pile hot coals into your mouth before the same song eats at ears year around.
Muffle It’s only a season years on years as cozy music plays as comfortably
as someone routinely seen naked sings through walls, thankful a month ago
there’s no Thanksgiving music but complaining about horizon’s light pollution.

For now, haunted houses put on their best show & darkness has color
while society chews active charcoal to spit out “It’s that time of year.”

Pull music over bodies, get cozy & don’t you dare go go. It’s WHAM!AGEDDON!
Time to say I’m sorry, I can’t give more & someone else says I’m not sorry
you discovered less than I deserve while waiting for last Christmas to drop
from corporate coffee playlists where it shares no artifacts of Christmas.

No frankincense or Coke cheers; the only present is a mailed heart, broken again a year later to believe in optimism in ways only the broken do, all alone
as arch enemy archangel George Michael created last Christmas on his own—
a fake pianist, three lost fingers on a keyboard, the same way most of us love:

Tapping out trying to return unwrapped dead touch without a gift receipt.

“Last Christmas” put more than hot coals in mouths that you’ll never kiss:
George Michael’s royalties — 100% of a beaten heart, all of it! — fell from tabid skies
to bite into African famine while we starve ourselves on annual replayed heartache,
a globe of silence, trite songs about ourselves, as we feast on our own knuckles

& we can no longer pretend forgiveness and music aren’t the same discovery.

editors note:

This Christmas Morn, wake me up before you… – mh clay

Jesus, Oregon

featured in the poetry forum September 25, 2022  :: 0 comments

Hotel coffee creamer trails back to ignition,
before beachside dovetail into the Oregonian horror story.

Sea trees listen to lying minds and American radio repeats,
plumpest gulls in flight widen circles around rainbow kites
that will never cross oceans with that many strings attached
straight as lined paper above sand dollars and beached bright crab meat.

The end creeps in from spilling cinnamon oceanic reaching as palms
from a body that lost the long swim to shore, but it arrived anyway.

All the Pacific catches on fire and everyone leaves seaside hotels for a dip.
Elderly Southerners drag sleep apnea machines in trenches as children stop
on crystal smoked gold sand to write out the name of a burning stranger
they’ll first love before rising swell flames claim misspelled indiscretions
spelled out before the inferno takes those fingers swimming out to parents
who already lost touch and found fire more profound than any will to live.

Waves rushing beachfront whistle with established desperation.
I don’t think there’s anything softer. I traveled here, and so did the tide.

Nightscape beach mutt howls as low moon extinguishes flames on water
and sheets of skin unroll in as kites join sandcastles without hands
to never tease them again.

Flames take names written but never loved.

This isn’t how people died on the Oregon Trail
but death adjusts to our quality of life.

Seaweed feathers from afternoon bird suicides at sea layered in driftwood spell
and I know no one can leave that for me on any beach, so this has to be the end.

editors note:

Written on a postcard from the Oregon Tourism Commission. Wish you were here! – mh clay

Candle Unmaker

April 2, 2022  :: 0 comments

Television imagination remains untwisted in summer while our dad says, “Stay with grandmother. It’s going to be hot again, way into the hundreds, and while she’s not quite there yet please just stay home.” As Dad shut the door, fervid outside air rushes into the house where hundreds of colorful candle statues with slick, wet-looking perfume bodies wait for fire …

Holiday Refund Policy

featured in the poetry forum December 20, 2021  :: 0 comments

Home in a toothpaste splash mirror, a smile starts on
a seasoned face while listing out who to leave
a year behind, one name over and over, over one card

alongside planted gifts under trees grown to shrivel while housing
color-toned cannonballs, dying as a rootless pine homestead hazard
by a window to emaciate as a half-breathed grandparent remembers
they’re withering light in reverse over and over.

Fetishize what strangers open, not much is darker
than memory. But there’s a you to love in the dark.

Cranberry blood boxes explode in a raging gift, setting
fire to ornament sap, blaze to dry nettles. Say it’s an angel.
Say don’t be afraid, it’s good news with one name over and over
on every box filled with bones of dogs seen alive but they never die.

Wet, violent kisses fetch your neck, bone on bone, over and over.

editors note:

‘Tis the Season for mistletoe mayhem all tender and mild. – mh clay

Sharing A Seat With My Own Initials

featured in the poetry forum July 10, 2021  :: 0 comments

Goddamn walls have ears, bar tables have heard us all say
as others ordained as bartenders clean for us, sit and exist
to trace prints on glass as air fills their sequence in patterns
we hope others don’t call our personality.

We’re circles fit in circles on circles. Same table, same mess.

Dip tongues into etches on your palms, say no one’s ever been here before.
But there are cuts and a dried drink eyes, both looking and listening
to dates when she orders beer and he orders a dirty martini,
two goddamn words that don’t go together—martini/dirty,
filthy/nachos, proud/cop, moldy/toothbrush, broken/cookies, dead/dog.

Those daters, looking at their table, ask, “Can you clean this up?!”

Inches above ground, we demand comfort but that doesn’t mean clean.
With where our bodies have been, we need acidic volcanic bleach
so wood smells of hospital tools, splinters as scalpels for elbows.

Lips to lips, sips between bites, how many times has I hate my life,
I love you, or I hate that I love you been echoed in glass held up
to faces with no dimples to kiss as the best has already been said.

Except others have been here, that’s a messy comfortable necessity.

Hell is filled with denial and there will be no new comforts
from our world, our circle growing sand and water. Our table.
Our us at the tip of a knife carving initials into moments
as we hold nothing but drinks and bones.

But there can be more. Take a seat.

See others have sat here before, and maybe they’ll be back
to share differences between a hand and the knife and the words
left behind on a table grown from earth’s dirt
to hold a single moment for as long as it’s dead.

editors note:

What’s tabled gets carved into what’s left. (Read more mad missives on Tyler’s page; two fights with a father figure – check ’em out!) – mh clay


July 10, 2021  :: 0 comments

A dream where I never felt closer to my dad

Buttoned egg white wedding suit,
men in a dream, same shapes except at malformed centers.
Father and son speaking as they never have—in secrets

to no music at home, just static noise through walls.
No one else lived here but we built in the deep rot.
He gave guts but this boy unmade his own heart.

Everyone’s lived happy except for men with my last name.
In one another, men see what’s saddest in ourselves and hold on—
a father crying for women he’s loved; his son not knowing how to.

Mourners of dead love, moments on water seeping through drywall,
on winds floating names tied to skies overlapping lamentations,
nouns dreamed to verbs that don’t make us men but means we are.

His teeth unroot at spelling out women never spoken of.
This is my body, son, see it fall to pieces.
The child becomes the parent’s fissuring secrets.

Father, son, and holes in enamel that time cratered,
too close to old names never freed of teeth,
a list of nothing but dreams others have had

drags the ceiling down to bodies as unspoken words collapse
shingles that only know us and could only keep us covered
to hold up so many secrets built inside its body.

I, Myself, and Our Shotgun

July 10, 2021  :: 0 comments

I rarely drove in high school, Dad didn’t trust me to not hit
others like he hit me.

Shotgun with one another in search of land
to never live on or off of but we’d be home before stars.
Vast dark landscape was just cow shit where light stopped.

When is it too old for child abuse,
When is it too old to be pathetic?
When was too young for it to not be our fault?

I buckled up my young ‘un, said let’s ride across land, boy.
He had questions I couldn’t catch off the west coast but I was
a vacationing southerner Biblically raged there wasn’t more, like
a meaty husk hanged as divers’ wrists and fists sogged dock wood.

Not for what I did or where we went or who he was,
two thousand miles into America, I started hitting.
I alone was there and he alone had it coming.

Roots held teeth, but one punch wasn’t enough,
as we both didn’t believe our pain.
Another came, a passed down double-tap.

Tasting old young blood, Why are we doing this?
Because we weren’t alone until now. Because we don’t have a home.
Just one another. Just one… Can’t we talk this over? Could we?

We could say we love one another. Then his hand rolled
into a rock dug out of earth’s high mileage face
to crack grayed corners of peripheral vision.

One whispered, one screamed a name that couldn’t be our own.
Hands off the wheel, without sin we cast stones to kill,
and we didn’t need to kiss to taste our blood.

The Life and Death of Dave Adamson

June 12, 2021  :: 0 comments

A scream runs through the street. A young couple sees what they’ll talk about until they’re old: a time, together, when they saw a body on a sidewalk. The couple hold one another and their breaths until police and emergency services arrive. No one offers a “Poor bastard” as those living gather to see where life goes. There’s something about …

Dead Water Parks Make Me Wet

featured in the poetry forum May 1, 2021  :: 0 comments

Water park parking lots aren’t for church buses,
they’re dried urban gardens for starved grackles.
Clouds split sun same as children who flushed themselves
clean with water slide enemas.

No laughter’s missed, it’s the loss of the loss of humiliation.

Red eyed burdens, we hope to carry sunburns again,
slide tubes to inhale waves and rise to see spotted blue sky.

Who knew without water white clouds could be apocalyptic.

What a way to start and end wet in the sun’s teeth shaking bodies:
Suits not stuck to skin of no girls not swimming just not to be seen,
no overweight boys in white tees hoping to never not be invisible.

Children aren’t allowed to be anything but alone.

It’s not how many kids have drowned, it’s those who lost opportunity
of diving in and floating up dead to be dragged across asphalt
brightened by smudgy church bus windshield sun reflection prayers.

Think of all this and ask forgiveness.

Summer! Please come back!

We won’t be better but we’ll be different. We’ll be desperate
to see constellations with chlorine eyes, what came and went.
Every inch of skin drips, lungs deflate, eyes sting
to see life at the bottom of this,
speaking in bubbles that if we live happy for much longer,
we’ll die down here.

editors note:

Remember, “church bus windshield sun reflection prayers” get to god first; but don’t forget your sunscreen. – mh clay

Burned Hallelujah Popcorn

featured in the poetry forum December 23, 2020  :: 0 comments

With no goddamn words, thank God baby Jesus won’t come this year.
Wise folk don’t travel, the North Star is at war with all bodies
sick of holding our prophecies because we dared to drag them down to us.
Now what the hell can we believe in? No stars, only wars.

We heard rumors of starlit wars and viruses, but neither was born in movie theaters
for a Christmastime miracle of militarized nostalgia on a giant screen.
The last movie too many saw in a butter-slick seat was Star Wars
trapping all our lives in sneeze wakes, sequels, phone text crawls.

All needed to be saved from sin but every moment was disappointment,
pressing a straw over tongues, not sharing a sentence even though
next year we’d never see a stranger’s set of spontaneous teeth.
All air in-between us was toxic but we’re all box office poison’s grandchildren.

Our world’s made art out of killing aliens, but other people?
They kill everything.
We’ve known this but now it’s all we know. And you’ll kill them too.
We used to just kill lights for stars caught in humankind’s last frame.

Stars pulse and hiss, don’t speak, but we give them stories.

Last Christmas, in a galaxy far, far away, something went outside in snowfall,
closed all its eyes to see how snow tastes, if it could be different far, far away
as seasons shift, colors drain from a savior’s lips dead to the taste of a virus
from others standing under a solo sun and feeling the force of their own dead.

Now in our universe, we see so much but not past this moment.
Seasons will come and go but stars won’t, neither will wars,
and none of us will live to count them all as we look ahead
to live funerals on tiny computer screens while stars war with
the deepest night finding us a million years from now, far, far away.

editors note:

‘Tis the Season (not the sequel) for peace (not a piece of the box office). Let the popcorn pass. – mh clay