My life changed when I met a woman. I suppose that’s a cliché you’ve heard before. Stick with me here, don’t get cynical. The restaurant was crowded on that autumn day, and with no chair nearby, the young lady asked if she could sit across from me. I sat alone at a small table with one other chair, reading Shakespeare’s …
You always laughed at folks who talked about money
and I remember many, like the time we went
for dinner with the composer husband and poet wife
and I was talking with the poet about money,
how we might make some because we had so little
and the composer was whistling part of a symphony
and you took a paperback out of your backpack
and began to recite some of your verse and though
you were known for great fiction stories I knew that
your verse was far better than worse, and then the time
when we were sitting with friends drinking beers
at the back of a narrow rock and roll club and we’d
come to hear friend Leslie’s son play in his new
rock and roll band and one of the songs was made
from a poem of mine on the subject of money
and Jason who was living with Leslie started
talking about being promised ten percent
by referring business to a printer friend of ours
and you laughed saying listen to the music
art’s more valuable than money and yes I thought
you’re right but today would say you’re wrong
No, it can’t buy happiness, but groceries are good when you can get ’em. – mh clay
Two drunken men in their late twenties stumble down the steps of a brick house into the street. They ask what the hell I am doing walking the streets of Hyde Park at three AM. “You looking for a place to rob?” the taller one pushes. I could shoot back the same line but I am prepared and tell them …
Pat thinks of truth in the misty sequoias
and what bugs do boring into their lovely bark,
Pat thinks of the truth in the atomic battles of the sun
and of all long and lovely earthly benefits,
Pat thinks of truth along the puffy pillows
forgotten in bed whispers made long ago,
Pat thinks of truth and what it means to put
A lonely American flag up on the moon,
Pat thinks of the truth of a body’s pungent
luscious smell before you take a shower,
and the truth of the heavy sexual burning
through the years between human legs,
the truth of older weak legs, finding it
hard to rise sometimes up out of the tub,
and the truth of rosy tasty pesticide apples,
the truth of all the tears in all the beach houses
set back of the dunes on the low beach, but
most of all Pat thinks of brother Rick
and of the pleasured pain he took pulling his
knife from its leather scabbard — that comes
back clear to Pat strangely and too often,
how Rick enjoyed turning and turning
his blade as he lay on his small bed,
catching the blade’s shine in the sun
coming in his childhood bedroom window,
how he enjoyed his slurred skewed words
as he felt his worthlessness, having killed
men overseas to serve his crazy country,
growling through his teeth at his sister.
Pat now in the basement of Rick’s heart
down in the storage area of the store
where she and her family of four lived,
“I could kill you…” he told his sister,
and Pat was not afraid, Pat put out a
loving hand to whisper, “I know, I know.”
How deep such love, to embrace the sharp and broken without fear! – mh clay
Comes on stage with a rag
tied over his groin and through
his legs to cover the crack
in his ass. The spotlight is
on him in the darkened hall
and he starts telling a story
and soon the goosebumps that
were on the naked man have flown
from his body and bloom on
the arms, legs and shoulders
of the audience. Soon the
shivers slide over into smiles
of laughter. The Hopefulist
is now lifting them out of the
hole he’d set them in. They are
making their way up on the
hope of words, the line of
plot in his tale, the rope he
has thrown down. When they
are back in the light, returned
to their seats, no one seems to
mind, as the story works its
way to its lifting close, that
they are the ones naked and
revealed now. The Hopefulist,
in a black tuxedo and a top hat,
takes his bow and quickly exits.
Enjoy him when he’s here. Be him when he’s not. – mh clay
“I went up those stairs at my next door neighbor’s party after midnight on New Year’s night to fetch our winter coats. I turned on the light and all the coats were on the floor and Gail was naked under the blankets making it with my next-door neighbor, this guy that ran a bunch of tanning salons. I flicked the …
When I climb out of the KIA I notice an old man standing by his suburban. I look to where he’s staring and see a woman behind her covered pickup. The tailgate is down and she is moving metal cages around that hold small dogs. I think she must be a rescuer. The woman must bend over to do this …
Her body, any body, you tell yourself,
Never as good as words, never as nuanced
As the sounds arising off the skin of page
And your finger tracing the text,
Much better than the tip of your
Tongue across the ridges of her
Soft flowered ears
Yes, text rolls much superior to
Her hand massaging your foot’s insole,
Much better than your nose drifting through
Her long and sumptuous hair
You know the feel of her spine
No way competes with the flexing
Spine of a book
There are no sounds to her lovely lashes,
No off rhymes off the blue of her eyes
There are never tears, never the constant why whys
When you turn on the light in bed with a book
But stop now and demand of yourself that
You put aside your fears, your rationalizing.
You know how the pain of her makes you say
Unending garbage of stupid things
You know in the deep of all your aches
That no printed book has ever
Moved and sighed like the liquefaction
Of her sweet and shining words
Erotica as reading as erotica. – mh clay
Here we are wet and moldy in a trench.
Here we are in World War One.
Here we are in France.
You can be a German if you want.
I’ll be British or maybe French.
We are warring brothers of the trenches
We smell of rotting corpses all around.
We are both wet and muddy,
Stumbling to fit our gas masks on our faces.
Somebody’s sent our way the mustard gas.
We don’t know if it’s from them or us.
The winds are variable that way.
There weren’t supposed to be but here we are gasping.
The machine guns have stopped spitting death.
The air’s the color of mustard
And everything’s still and quiet.
You feel in another world
And you almost relish the moment.
You don’t expect to survive this shithole war.
You want to ask one of your buddies
In the trench to kick you in the ass
For allowing your stupid self to get in such a pickle.
We were all such dum-dum bullets.
If you’d become a chemist instead
You might have invented a ketchup gas
That could nullify the mustard gas.
You’d relish the idea that all the poison
Gasses could be named for garnishes
As hurricanes were named for women.
I’d make a mayonnaise gas that melts
A soldier’s skin into a pasty white.
A peanut butter gas that when it clogs
Inside the body causes a slow death
In the shape of a peanut shell.
A butter gas that makes you dream,
Before you die, of a better world,
Smooth and creamy. Both you and I
Will float above our trenches in the
Butter gas beyond at last all the farce
Of nationalism, away from racist
And homophobic cracks, to embrace
As only human lovers are able,
Dreaming to a transcendent space.
Seeking the ultimate condiment of compassion. Please! – mh clay
We kidnapped the barber with the stiff neck. I was against the plan but had only one vote. The rest of the guys were in awe of our friend from Princeton. He had a lot of family money in our small suburb. We called him Coney because his head seemed cone headed. His red hair and crew cut accentuated the …