Meditation on Uprisings

featured in the poetry forum April 29, 2023  :: 0 comments

One day a quirky
old building (dumbwaiters, gargoyles,
funhouse stairs) is brought down
with incisive verbs incanted
and precisely leveled charges
and up rises another.

To find the location where I’m speaking
drop your GPS in the forgetting hole
and navigate by the constellations.
To find that best moment of sleep
lie down in the pool and look up.
I’m dying to hear from you
to see your new shell.


Take a look in the mirror
of the choir dressing room
and find yourself attractive for the first time.
It’s the hair.
A little self-gazing is good at a certain age.

Take a look in the sacristy
where someone in costume
has been siphoning wine.
In my childhood church
they used a modest Malbec for communion
with pine and cat piss undertones.

In the drawers of candle snuffers
and offering envelopes you’ll also find
a songbook and a libretto
with too many authors
that says someone must do something
about all the suffering
, and, if only the right combination
of tools could be found

and says elsewhere, everyone must not.
That’s the way of a flat world. Now, no one
is on his way to help.


After big wars come big words
and then a promise and another
until, as winter dons its rosy duds, the calf
finds its legs and its way in the herd
quickly or else.

That too is the world – libraries
burned or worse, neglected;
doggerel dressed as verse
while the little man pumps his little fists
for the cameras and the maddened crowd.

editors note:

So it goes! – mh clay

Religiously Remote

featured in the poetry forum August 6, 2021  :: 0 comments

There is the guidance of missiles
and the redundancy – guidance counseling.
There are guide dogs and sight-seeing guides,
guidelines for application and submission,
Indian guides, trail guides, field guides,
and guidance for diligence. Steering
is another matter.

Ocean ignores all but the moon, rocks
back and forth in its deep pan
singing, dune, spoon, loony tune;
a stony old idea roots itself, increases
suffering, just as intended, and keeps
plates and minds spinning.

With this weapon, they needn’t ever consider
the countenance of the adversary.
Count on killing
to become but part of a daily routine.
Cornflakes, calisthenics, round
to the nearest decimal point.

With this weapon kill all the foliage,
sell the dead land, burn down a village
and rake up the chips.
So many plates whirling furiously;
hilarious comedies, the stand-up who slays them,
the canned warmth of laughter spreads luxuriously.

editors note:

Who’s in charge of this chicken outfit, anyway? – mh clay

It Was Dreadful and I Miss It

featured in the poetry forum December 26, 2020  :: 0 comments

We never get everything on our lists:
one year a chill sidled up from the coat
of ice on my lawn like a drunk girl
at a coming of age party
and wouldn’t let go.

I no longer need to scratch
myself raw with holly and ivy and slowly
the raked skin smoothes over.
With the holiday goes the Godot familiarity
of the hangover, the grudging, smoky bowl.

I’ve suffered those days to dissolve
into the deep of an upturned hat
set down on a bed; my mouth shut ‘til midday,
the family skirting my scurvy self.

* * *

Sleep was never too long
except when it clouded up
like water in Pernod.

We rolled into the comforter all elbows
and legs and free-floating down.

This was alcohol-tripping
I think aloud
sprawled on a mattress
in a room of unpainted drywall
and splintering random board, under a skylight
under a freezing night’s stolid eyes;

tripping like in the story of the couple driving
through a sparkling desert
where something of themselves
that I have forgotten was revealed.

editors note:

Wrappings discarded; all presents dissolve into a present to remember. – mh clay

Sleepless September Morning

featured in the poetry forum December 8, 2020  :: 0 comments

Five a.m. and again
my left hand dropped the ball;
no pins-and-needles,
no python wrapped
like a living glove
from the elbow down,
no excuse but heredity.
But it wasn’t a bad hand:
good for picking up
ladders and dumbbells
and packed valises.
At first I was going to keep it.

Such a good-for-nothing hand,
so disappointing, displeasing,
disaffecting—good for fumbling
with a cigarette, for offering
an empty glass.

There was a fire in my dome
when I was young and
everything—the smoke, the burn—
smelled like home and a pound
of tolling bells rolled through my mind.

editors note:

When the good hand knows what the (not so) bad hand is (not) doing. – mh clay

Green Jacket

featured in the poetry forum May 28, 2020  :: 0 comments

When I wear
it I want to tell strangers
drinking sissy Martinis I shot
an unheard-of, masterly
sixty-two both Saturday and Sunday
one of those three glittering years
I held a PGA card, before
“the accident”. The phrase spurs
curiosity while the pinch
in my face cuts it off. The heft
and fabric feed the confidence
man who slithers along in my shadow,
and expand us like a parade balloon.

With an honest face
I say this: I had it fitted
by cherubic tailors
when I needed to seem older
from the cloth they use to print money.
It appears somehow official, military, foreign
like a pearly threat
uttered in another tongue
in a hot spot. I say
I keep my own dice
loaded in the pockets
in the dark where my fingers
can feel and read.
I don’t talk to them – the bones,
the people – they talk to me.
I don’t answer questions,
I ask them.
With this thing on I extract
answers, bits of truth
malleable as gold fillings
from old teeth.

editors note:

Dress for success and get the right answers. – mh clay

I Think That’s Where I Put Them

featured in the poetry forum February 22, 2020  :: 0 comments

If I were not still landlocked, in a state
between states
I would be forgiven all my lying-in
so long ago
That was a few years into a prescription.
I learned to nap in an armchair,
narrow, upholstered,
under the Herald-Tribune.

To my left, a step up to a French door
and outside a balcony.
Below, a shaded garden, walled
the way they all were in that old tourist town.
My best stories follow the white pebbles
past snails that dream of the Duchy of Escargots
and on to the pavilion, its ping pong table
and rickety spinet with a few keys like nailless fingers.

° ° °

Time liquefies, stretches like light.
What’s left are forgetting and travel
and always peaks and glens
cut into a world that can be water, gas or ice.
Unlocked, a channel reveals
an island monastery
where I looked back from a great height.
Like everybody, I write what I remember;

the blue heat of adolescence
rising fast from the west and up my limbs,
sopping shoes pushing up worn stone stairs
as the rain slid down them like a fountain,
dining in the fading light on Brittany lamb, tasting
of the sea salt that washed the fodder
those babies ate, and below
the current gray and forever in flux.

editors note:

We write what we remember… (We welcome David to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Self-centered to the Extreme

featured in the poetry forum November 26, 2019  :: 0 comments

You may be Saturday’s child all–grown
moving with a pinch of grace
You may be a clown in the burying ground
or just another pretty face…
– Robert Hunter, “Althea”

You find my skull
with its crooked little smile
and just as you heard them
in airless corridors
and quieted galleries
the clocking footfalls
above an ornery shore
resound a while.

Who works harder, the digger
or the dug? Whose sign scores
the chosen tombs but the fool
with the wisecracked mug?

editors note:

We all look out from within. – mh clay

Old Love Song

featured in the poetry forum September 13, 2019  :: 0 comments

I’ve never told a whole story
in one arm-length sheet
the way some can.
In hours drawn across glass
the floorboards are the loose lips
that expose my coming and going.

If my hand stayed in
it was for the sake of another
who opened her eyes
one night the firmament rang
& the shrapnel of stars, full-throated,
sang out in all the languages.

With her there were no acid tears,
only anger turned inward
then out – a lightning tongue – and relish
of the world’s buffooneries.
Every tale was a sleeve
that could be lengthened or shortened

right on the dressmaker’s dummy,
cuffs added, buttons sewn or severed.
They were not always the ones
I wanted to hear
but sounded dense and deep
as Russian bells.

editors note:

A nostalgic nag from a then, sweet now. – mh clay