featured in the poetry forum December 7, 2022  :: 0 comments

doors open out, close in
windows open up, close down
jars open clockwise, close counter

I choose the right key to unlock the kitchen door
90% of the time, the other nearly identical key
is for someone else’s house
I don’t have a key for my front door
the garage door hasn’t come down since we got here

that time I put my key in the passenger door
opened it, and realized it wasn’t my Subaru
now as long as the key’s in your pocket or purse
doesn’t matter who you are

some homes in Chile (& elsewhere) are built on stilts
when a couple splits up, often one person gets the land
the other gets the house and moves it

could you build a house under an existing house
a house inside a house, a house without foundation or flooring

looked so hard in the living room window
I heard it sigh. no doors, no house number
I couldn’t see past the lawn

editors note:

If no house, no matter what key you carry. (Congrats to Don on the release of his new collection, In the Word Shed! You can get your copy here.) – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum May 4, 2022  :: 0 comments

on my way from the suburbs
non-linearity waiting around the corner
organic teleportation, quantum cotanglement
like an electron spreading its wings
the sweet blossoms of passive neglect

how today the usual tastes off, the half & half curdles
days before the pull date, what’s on the label isn’t in the can,
a hundred dollar bill is waiting on the doorstep
an orange sky, a cloud with square corners

i dreamed of emollient beauty and woke
itching all over, i turned the page on the calendar
and it flipped itself back, i get to roll again
pass go and collect a large pizza
with gluten free crust and cauliflower cheese (sausage)

other days everything goes as planned
i must change clothes for no reason
find a window that will open, go outside
and check the house number
every car that drives by is white

i cast the shadow of a 20 foot sculpture
fifty or more crows gathered across the street
one walks my way
my arms are wings
i fall backwards from a high ledge
wondering what i’ll do, how far will i glide
how do i pay for lunch
will the bus doors be big enough

i get off just when things turn around
a sun emitting cloud, shit too valuable to flush
which weather con/com should i bet my savings on
for Christmas the earth will show us next spring’s fashion
so much wrapped in viral plastic
as we saunter into the past
knowing what probably won’t happen again

editors note:

Spun up in this span when there ain’t no plan. – mh clay

How Could So Much

featured in the poetry forum October 9, 2021  :: 0 comments

how could so much
become never before
this quick and suddenly

if the window came to me
if i opened myself for the door
i’m naked cause it took all my clothes
to roof

what kind of heap am i
magnetic or smoldering
parts from something never fully designed
like starting with 3 non-consecutive letters
for your true name and no one to ask
how to get more: winged letters
i can’t catch, growling letters,
letters in another’s pocket

can’t go back to where i just was
as it’s nowhere to be seen
the kind of distance jump
requiring at least 4 hours unconscious

or just leave one body behind
& get a new one on arrival
like i do in a restaurant
choosing the first thing on the menu
that catches my eye–what will it taste like
will i have any idea what i’m now in

stripping back to blue-prints and diagrams
recycled gift wrap from another planetary culture
as if my hand was the Ouija planchette
drifting along the map of this area
that engulfs the floor like a rapid summer
of drying grass, seed pods, squirrel rejects

like a bicycle that some days won’t move
no matter how i pedal, other days
i have to mount it as it rolls out the yard
toward hills so high

a night of cheap vodka & deep-fried meat
is waiting in ambush to inundate and in-debt me
my name’s on the invoice, my face can be drawn
using just the stain of a signature, virtual skin,
imaginary calluses

instead of taking my temperature, i put on a watch
and see how long it takes to stop this time

editors note:

Alphabetical disorder achieved in record time. – mh clay

My Heart Cries out for Obstruction

featured in the poetry forum March 27, 2021  :: 0 comments

My Heart Cries out for Obstruction – Nathaniel Mackey

my twitching fingers know the air’s too thin
to climb or weave, my feet reluctant to leave the floor
but town is closing soon and the highway needs its quota

you can only buy so much time without worrying where to put it
exchanging interest for growth, an unstable stillness
the momentum of a sentence untethered by breath
my lungs steadily changing pages, uncertain

something yeasted then forgotten
a fermented state of mind stoppered with cheekbones
hesitation reduced to lard, rendering in charcoal squid blood
and tar sands the inevitability of stars, more error than margin
too much space for a line, too much rumble for a bag

keys keep turning in my pocket but nothing ignites
my deodorant smells like gasoline, my mouthwash
from a forgotten river, no industry without dust,
no progress without rogues, out of the blue and into the grey

always leave a couple spoonfuls for the next meal
if the knife’s not used for cooking something else will be cut
on Thursdays, the cooks pick the music and the plates are glad
to wash themselves, my appetite’s in a minor key

when my earworm is a bass jam i was playing last night
while the garlic i smell from the kitchen won’t be peeled and chopped
for a couple hours, on the brink of an almost lethal brilliance
eyes cropping what the windows allege, a 20-foot shadow
rolls slowly down my street looking for an address

editors note:

Post “No Soliciting”, pull the shades. – mh clay

Broken English

featured in the poetry forum September 2, 2020  :: 0 comments

When culture takes wing
trailing fluff and flakes suggesting
mayan runes melted into asphalt
lead letters, teflon letters, mercurial vowels

Throw a stone into a dictionary, photograph the ripples
playing back in slo-mo to translate, to blend
elastic letters, porous consonants
plosives without timers or fuses

Since yeast can produce alcohol
can alcohol help our words rise
punched back down and left in a dark dry corner
focusing the spotlights for baking without smoke
the open mike vacuum draws in the friction of crows
mumblings of 5-cylinder engines

Few can handle manual transmission any more
gotta be automatic, cellular, so many tones
tween first and second, all solos, no harmony
spilt beer revealing invisible ink
whether the paper’s from tree, hemp, rags, papyrus
eventually, the archeologists realized that ziggurat
was a novel pressed in clay

I read the words on the screen with conviction
output without input, context-free text
a few new images and a misheard phrase
burst in me with a malthusian froth, muscular riptides
dancing with under-currents that just escaped

I know there’s a set of traps and cymbals around
I’m ready to unroll the scroll disguised as a steel string
pressing the pickup into my forehead
to amplify whatever’s left in there

Will our earbuds sprout in spring
always somewhere in me green and damp,
the sunshine of my love for the next unexpected
enjambment, the myth reduced to a sonnet,
the cliché about to remind us how it got that way

editors note:

Constructed from the secret codex we all want to crack. There is more than words at stake… – mh clay

On the Wing

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

I only eat bird meat, bird eggs
not letting the wind control my appetite
for several years i migrated
my clothes never big enough to smuggle much

As few want to eat the fine-, fragile- boned fish
trying to breed a featherless chicken
sauce is the reward for eating wings
as ladles of gravy help the gobbler go down

Feeling rich when we have the whole thing
like roasted pigs, anything on a skewer over open flame
the smell of burnt fur the opposite of hunger

Muscle for muscle, bones for bones, feathers
to fly in our minds or just rise an inch or two
internal teleportation, swimming in stillness—
not to bathe but to float, just a few ways
to relieve gravity, to pretend it’s escapable

If the world was flat how many would jump off the edge
invent ways to release into space, like an astronaut
who’d cured the addictions to oxygen and pressure
or mountaineers who summit, strip, and glide to the nearest cloud

As the air thins, so should we;
as the air thickens, will our lungs adapt,
will 98.6 become a debunked religion
our relationships with clothes will be revised, revealed
more than comfort or protection, less than skin but more than muscle

Everything i wear has flecks of me on it, i’m more defined
by what i drink than what i don’t eat, walking like whoever’s
around me, flying when no one sees

editors note:

A case where we eat what we are. – mh clay

The word not said after 4 dry weeks

featured in the poetry forum August 1, 2019  :: 0 comments

I knew the drain brain strain
the sssiss of tires on wet streets
the highway seems half volume or twice as far
wading birds, fishing birds, birds that can drink a gallon at a time
eyes like aquariums, ponds of something thicker than water
with the busiest possible complexion

If I let my hands out in it they might not want to come in
till they lost all sense of direction and body temp
a sky so thick it begins to show cracks, loss of cohesion
even in times of surplus there’s no fair distribution

Do I dry my hair or my feet first,
these rare days my arm pits stay dry
times when looking up is losing focus, increased risk
no matter how regular the surface,
times when the smoothest are the biggest threat
not a time for dancing shoes, breathable shoes, exposed socks

When our driveway becomes lake country
when people move quickly with tunnel vision
mornings I’m unsure where I am or how I got here

editors note:

In a drought dither; hair or feet, no matter. Hydrate when you can. – mh clay

In a Beginning

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

No matter how many trees we peel, how many cars
we turn into mosaics, i know this isn’t my city
though there’s a house with my name on it
overcoats for curtains, faded maps of imaginary nations for floors
how do you hang a one-way door
no matter how many mouths i open water refuses to enter me

First the scab, then the lake
still water brings algae brings fish brings birds
brings a sky to fly in, clouds for nightly shelter
we have no word for sun, no word for walking—
i either fly or run, with or against the ever wind
the traffic in my mind looking for places to work or eat
listening for a name i heard only once,
an accent no song can contain

Once let in
once without rain
the first fire can’t be stopped

editors note:

Home-boy or stranger, there’s fire in the danger. Get out while you can! – mh clay

Floor Drum

featured in the poetry forum October 8, 2018  :: 0 comments

As if on the floor, surrounded by things to hit time with,
smiling up toward the light, hundreds of sensors
on the bottoms of our legs and butts
reading the earth, feeding the street
aching to flood like a dog at the door,

What comes to my house not my house, space i borrow,
time i’m eaten by, ignoring how the house declines,
becoming more transparent, like 85 year old skin
still attached but increasingly scripture.

How paper can sometimes take human form, any form it wishes
when properly given the blues, when swimming beneath
the red horizon, flying like a star made from a paper cup—
a way to fold space and make it solid

As some napkins have bones, some whale bones
got wrapped around my body as if i was a ship
taking how many to what they weren’t ready for

A knock, a thrum, a semi going through a phone pole
so much held in we get deep enough for neutrinos
so far from home, so ready to dissipate our om, our back-beat:
if music   then dance   & other dancers

editors note: A different beat requires a different drum; so long as you can dance to it. (We welcome Dan to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Waiting for the Dna Test

featured in the poetry forum May 1, 2018  :: 0 comments

Could i count the black dogs in the field if they stopped moving
or is it just 2 or 3 dogs displaying simultaneously all the places
they’ve been & will be there, chasing the ball of the sun,
playing tug of war with a hank of river

The crows near the homeless camp know me
breaking open a plastic bag of rain-soaked bagels & pastry
so more could eat, as more fly in

And what of our oak tormented by squirrels
strip-searched, gnawed, then expected to provide shelter
in a hole or crotch—who else is living there
not counting the moss machines, the insect processes

But i don’t mean bees, more functional & intelligent
than we could ever, no matter how we choose to miniaturize,
to export natural functions to devices we can never fix, only upgrade

Is there a mammal whose skin no one ever wore
a bird whose feathers didn’t decorate some body
the tree my door came from, the ice that became my window.

When a dogs tail is wagging. where are his teeth,
when i think it’s night but my windows are covered with crows,
as flesh is a veil, as clothes announce our sadness
at having so little fur and no feathers at all
just these thick bones to withstand small collisions
and keep us chained to the earth
we seldom rise from, seldom run across full speed
trailing slobber, dust and fleas of random memory.

I drive a mile to the Thirsty Dog; the bartender asks
if i’m a service animal, or might i be in season.

editors note:

To bee or not to be; not even the question when the answers are multiple choice. – mh clay