featured in the poetry forum April 12, 2023  :: 0 comments

I play me at school Mars-tongued,
dropping my spoon in a bandage box
and aiming for the ceiling to walk me
prison-free for any future. A little fire
in the arithmetic is subtracting words
from my numbers. I’m adding my name
to lots more invisibility so that I’m in
the only answer section that somebody
tore out. I’m in the wordy preface, too,
like a blue jay with a featherless face.
I play me in the back of the classroom
with a countdown chiseled from the sky.

editors note:

Nobody plays you better. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum February 28, 2022  :: 0 comments

Our parents never danced
and now their music almost falls
out of their radio with static
the same as detergent commercials
and sometimes the latest obituaries
charm the emptiness of the airwaves
while another lightning bolt sloughs
an echo out of the radio’s speaker
while the DJ tries to sound somber
about some old lady being buried
on Hawpatch Mountain the place
where the sun will rise again with
flocks of redwings above sorghum fields
and the same news headlines following
a steel guitar singing into frost melt.

editors note:

It’s not what we remember but how. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum February 4, 2021  :: 0 comments

An island is growing inside a snowflake.
And there are three closets inside an old man’s skeleton.
Sometimes there’s a very young bluebird with bat-wings
nuzzling the coat hangers. Sometimes Adélie penguins
swim through a keyhole and shake icebergs into shoes.
And on rare occasions, the largest closet will argue
with itself and pry a rib from the skeleton, and say:
old man, your boots chase an empty boat into the ground,
try skiing back home from the dead, try lifting snowflakes
from your eye-holes. Such is the playing of streetlights
on a drunk poet’s taxi ride through Beijing.

editors note:

Yes, it’s OK to drink and write. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum June 30, 2020  :: 0 comments

Long ago I was an owl in Usambara.
I chased echoes through the cliff stone.
I winged the silence that caught me.

I would have been a child on an island.
I would have told you thirteen tall tales.
There would have been one boat sinking.
There would have been farmers drowning.

You would have called me a braggart,
a trash-picker. My guitar was a dead tree.
My family forgot how long ago I was an owl.

editors note:

Remember what we were before we became what we are? – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum December 7, 2019  :: 0 comments

Time hides all its words beyond our voices.
My neighbor swears almost every sunrise
ricochets Mosul through his body. He can’t
say where the fighting ended, or if it ended.
He can’t say why the sniper’s ghost laughs
into his dreams. Victory rattles the screen door,
and losses smear starlight across window frost.

This is what I pretend he’d say if he were a poet,
or a young songwriter traipsing around the backyard
hunting for his words along the chain-link fence.
His guitar would sound like a cold jaybird screeching
at a cat. All his words would burn away like river fog
mid-morning. He’d be telling his family somewhere
the sniper had come back to life to focus the gun-scope.

editors note:

Listen; intently, patiently. Give them time to find the words. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum September 7, 2019  :: 0 comments

It might not be strange to find a butterfly
on a battleship, middle of the Indian Ocean,
middle of heaven’s torn wings, sulphured
and bleached into a child on a raft, or a shark
finning through lightning. The butterfly wants
to say its name is Rosita, or Candelita, or Wall,
or Iceberg. It hungers for marigold nectar all day.
It says its flesh feels like a frozen bullet, what
that feels like is all the pages of a book torn out
and burning in the middle of the battleship
when the storm is over, when the radar screen
says there is nothing real out there, nothing nearby,
just wave after wave, rising through the Zodiac
where the only thing with a chitinous exoskeleton
in the sky is a weird crab heavy with its giant stars
and nebulae scheming and scheming to grow wings.

editors note:

Living where life ought not to be, sky or sea; or suburb here with you and me. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum April 4, 2019  :: 0 comments

A boat waits inside a cliff stone.
It’s a brood-neck of Mars motored
half-through basalt. It’s got steel
sensing the eyes of an old archeologist,
and it pretends it’s a fossil like a man.

A murrelet lays its egg in a nest there.
The embryo can hear the boat in its heart,
and the boat has already swallowed it
so the baby won’t ever hatch, won’t
stretch weird little wings against storm clouds.

The boat’s so old it watched thousands
and thousands of murrelets scrape lightning
from their minds to keep themselves flying.
And now the boat teases. It works the beard
and then the neck of the archeologist,
so that he’s head-deep in an alien’s soul
wishing for another Mars beyond Mars.
His words tighten like eroded fingers
around his lamp. There is no other world.

editors note:

Auk-ward archeologist as artifact. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum December 28, 2018  :: 0 comments

A neighbor has labeled Mars
frozen across graph paper. She says
landings have been faked, the next
will also. She believes our satellites
have flattened the curve of the earth
into starlight, and four giant waterfalls
dropping into space. She says poets are
mean winter voices veiled by fire. God
gets everyone who leaves the world, and
nobody owns real wings. The last War
is coming soon, she says. All her charts
place everything ending in one line.

editors note:

As we chart our course for the approaching New Year, let’s keep those lines open. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum April 28, 2018  :: 0 comments

Tonight I begin to escape a fossil.
It shoulders a trillion stars in its skin.
It slips a black ink inside its voice
and deepens it into words. Stay, it says.
Stay, and be born here, be thrown a wheel,
be whispered out through the maple leaves,
be fathered and be mothered like a soldier
tied to a rifle knotted to a helicopter
frozen to a city where the launchers
count backwards, pretending numbers
sound like names, that aren’t names.

Tonight I stop escaping.
There’s a rose pressed to a glacier.
There’s a devil squeezed into a prayer.
Bees drink their empty honeycombs.
Air siphons their wings. Dirt dances.
And some very busy melting fingers fist-up
like tadpoles sprouting legs inside a stone.
These ask me, home? There’s no house.
There’s no flesh. There’s a voice nodding
down a gun barrel. Oh, closing in.
Whatever the world is. Whatever it is.

editors note:

When world is whatever, whatever is woe. – mh clay


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

Thieves arrest midnight
because willows choke the sky
where a farmer starved

he wore a red hat
along the path to his house
this fits his headstone

now he mocks the ghosts
the ones born with all the stars
shining for no one

he is robbing thieves
they are all cops and judges
they are his fathers.

editors note:

Fall to sidle up to selfish celestial ancestors; take your place, take all. – mh clay