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

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 …


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 …

Lives, Lovers, Livers Ago

featured in the poetry forum January 21, 2017  :: 0 comments

The fuck stops here, in a room of strangers, once lovers.

Close eyes and enunciate ex-ter-min-ate with
no separate breaths between hello and goodbye
spreading across infinity, from sheets to space,
rung around mysteries inside bedside table rings,
but never slipped on any fingers.

Bar receipts crumble as petals in pockets, scarves tug as nooses,
stomach knots tie one off better than drinking to any horizon.

Beer isn’t paradise, it’s the discovery of gods
drowned in disillusion, betting on nightmares
and occasionally lucky sunsets for some of us.

Taste fingers slid between teeth, prints trace the tongue,
imprints of dirty doors and girls lied to and called whores,
safe in sending kisses to bottoms of glasses, never sunsets.

editors note:

Beer-bungled, clumsy commingling; benevolence blundered, consequences unconsidered. (read two more on Tyler’s page; a romantic reader and an uncaring killer – check’em out!) – mh clay

St. Roach

January 20, 2017  :: 0 comments

Drunk talk is a love song for wobbling grackles
cawing a rhyme scheme of past lovers’ names.

Don’t seek drunk kisses, they find you
in a high-rise where vinyl afterthoughts pile.

In her atmosphere, all I craved was her body of work
after bars and a stroll as uncomplicated as her bookshelf.

Our town’s got lies to share, shaven legs to slide,
but all I cared for were her barren margins.

Too many bookmarks, too shallow into pages.
Much unread – unloved.

“The books are all mine, in me.”
Same as drinks on lips used to touch others’ glasses.

Permanent sunset mounted her mattress.
She’ll photograph more sun, she promised.

I thought: Don’t. Photograph the dead.
Drink, swallow them in their moment.

editors note:

Here’s a lover’s chance to catch up on his reading… – mh clay

A Place for My Dead

January 20, 2017  :: 0 comments

I discover my shadow over dead crows off a red dirt road
and tell myself to kill only my age in talons on tension wires,
pick teeth with beaks, weave an oily feather necklace, a gift
to a Texan woman as tall as telephone wire conductors.

BB bullets hit feathers as soft as whispers in ears,
as freely as step-parents exiting homes.
Crows die in sleep as aged Baptists hope and pray to die as they lived —

In sleep.

One crow for every year I grew into a murderer, certain
BBs would be the last thing they’d see fly before slipping
down light into my new shadow darkening useless wings.
No one’s said killing opens invisible doors to dead worlds.

After one kill, boys sway with the edge’s drop,
what falls off tongues as birds from skies:
There’s no beauty in the world if there’s no world,
only static shadows, a place for my dead.

Miracles of flight fall to gravity’s authority as a Saturday soldier
takes life down bent iron sights, pump-action modus operandi,
feathers clutter a garden of roadside berries, more rot than fruit,
and thoughts—

In life, death holds nothing…
Death holds no life when it does arrive.

More bored than warped by remorse, BB grease,
plastic mechanics made me lick trigger fingers
after killing many but slaughtering only time.

Kicking red dirt clumps down the road
where human foot prints are mine among claw imprints,
shadows colored as feathers, carcass echoes —

The road most traveled has the most bodies.

editors note:

No gun control here, only boyhood emotions; mutilation as metaphor, to ask, “What’s it for?” – mh clay

Southern Cross to Carry

July 9, 2016  :: 0 comments

Drink our brother’s blood like rum
as liquor green glass filters room light.
Pray something grows but be mortified it blooms
as rattlesnakes ‘round noose ropes.

Carry crosses above gravestone colored capitals
and hope roots don’t stem from past
cast curses towards daughters or cast stones
pelting sons, meddling bruises in deep black tones.

Flags don’t keep anyone warm, but burning them does.
Hold communion with kerosene, hands high, tongues out;
feeding vinegar to screaming children hanging
in a bloodborne tree, begging souls below to stop flames.

But we can’t tell the difference between bloomed fruit
and two hundred years of broken necks.

We know how they look. We know how they sound.
church bells toll in unison, telling the living
true tragedy—

Anyone speaks for the dead.