Shifting Position

featured in the poetry forum November 3, 2023  :: 0 comments

I turn towards the light, fearing hope, stone
faced in the wake of a smile, shutters down

as muscles of my eyes flex. Through layers
of skin brightness filters encouraging a flicker

of lids and movement of limbs an answer
to a call. A call I recognise as the warmth

of compassion provides a shiver. Though it’s
just a moment’s bliss before nimbus intervals

weep and lean on my bones pushing them into
earth. Pistol-whipped, dazed, warped at the knees,

I become drenched in the brutal depths of
mortality, biting hard on consumed memory,

shuffling on a journey to redemption, one stride
ahead of the slow crawl of acceptance. Yet,

in the midst of the storm grey beads cultivate
roots, promoting growth, strengthening resolve,

feeding understanding as I wake and smell
the bullshit, shifting position to follow the sun.

editors note:

A pivot from putrid to pleasant. – mh clay

Empty Seat (a state of mind)

featured in the poetry forum August 28, 2023  :: 0 comments

My resolve broke down on the road to recovery
overheated and defeated,
murmuring on the cusp of deliverance
just beyond reach of resolution.

To this point I’d passed hidden signs,
forks in the road,
easy street to the left
providence to the right
always choosing the former.

The easy trail to find some peace
a fairground ride, high above confusion
swirling in a forever spin
laughing at those below
who’d shake fists and spit bile.

Opposite, an empty seat
a swinging endorsement
of lonesome smugness
teasing death,
knuckles white on the bar.

Another fork, another choice
to the left a festival
to the right responsibility
so, I’d head to see an addict
a legend drowning in the fear of performance
while among a frenzied crowd
a brotherhood
a sisterhood,
a family;
I’d envied their anticipation
as I stood there alone
in a field of mud.

Wearily I turned left again
to the barroom hustle
in pursuit of belonging
confidence sought in vessels of deceit
juggling words
something of interest
beyond a cliche
though would lose my thread
in the bottom of a glass.

Finally, to avoid completing the circle
I turned to the right
a rutted road that shook me into multiple parts
and left me deshelled
wiping mist from my rear-view
looking clearly at the damage left behind
with no passengers
Just me and the open road.

editors note:

It’s a rough road to recovery. Sometimes a left isn’t right. – mh clay

Overthinking…

featured in the poetry forum May 17, 2023  :: 0 comments

Some may think me rude
think me thoughtless,
though in fact,
maybe I think too much
leaving nothing to say.

Warriors invade me in longboats
on chariots,
on horseback
in armoured cars,
on medication,
weaving in, swooping out.

So, I keep you safe,
protected from demons
that threaten that
what my mouth may emit.

Occasional thoughts excite
though hardly make the page
for fear of failure.

Conversation echoes around my head
Philip Larkin addresses Dylan Thomas
between sips of brandy
Thomas peers back
over a flagon of ale
mockingly generous
with underhand praise…

I forget my thoughts
as they filter, into endless loss.
I am the unenviable proprietor
of a house of overthinking,
forgetting thoughts
as they filter into endless loss.

Once they leave, they seldom return
overtaken by Larkins voice,
or a verse to be woven.

You though are the treasure buried deep
my undeniable, despicable, undeserving obsession.

editors note:

If “you” were me, would you hold your tongue (cap your pen)? Think about it… – mh clay

Padre’s Prayer

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

The past has been kind
given my secret remains intact,
hidden under layers of cloth
and holy interdiction.

Like the guilty child in the choir
singing harder than the rest,
my bullshit resonates
around these peeling walls.

I procrastinate when challenged,
pontificate when questioned,
shed tears unbidden for others
while aching to unburden myself.

To breathe clean air;
to speak consistently,
in even tones
without fear of reprisal.

Though I cannot divulge sins
without internal strength,
nor allow a moment’s weakness
to open my vein.

This face is crumpled from smiling;
this customer service facade
of falsehood weakens, though
I keep my council.

Knowing the day will arrive
when I lose everything,
I pray to whomever, please
let it not be today.

Have mercy on this imposter;
leave him not exposed, as the
hypocrite in robes
who speaks over their graves.

editors note:

Robe ripped to reveal the rot within. – mh clay

Mind the Gap

featured in the poetry forum October 15, 2022  :: 0 comments

Leaving the platform,
we leave our lives behind…

Whomever we’re leaving
and wherever we’re headed
the stranger for now,
holds us captive
with glances and judgment.

The carriage is like a waiting room
though movement
passing trees
and meadows
are of more interest
than posters of decease
or landscape print.

The student opposite shuffles
and closes towards the window
pretending to read what she already has read
appearing threatened by your invasion.

Thoughts of reassuring her are halted
by dread of a misunderstanding
so, you turn and face your reflection
and home in on a flock of sheep.

A slowing down brings a village spire into view
and you muse at the many births,
marriages and departures
that would have kept the population constant.

Though the empty seat by your side
brings concern at the screech of wheels
at what deviant,
smelly, unkept murderer
might breathe stale beer in your direction.

Or maybe some overbearing hooligan
with a fistful of hate
might open conversation
with views you don’t share.

Whatever, whomever, you encounter
control cannot return until the door opens
at the town on your ticket…

So, when leaving the train
remember to mind the gap
between your life and the void.

editors note:

Trained to keep to ourselves when there’s more than the gap to mind. – mh clay

Communion

featured in the poetry forum August 7, 2021  :: 0 comments

Holy doors slam with echo
scudding shoulders into neck
as my hand, damp with holy water,
claws at my collar.

Like watching a stranger’s home video
through the crack of a door
I look to the distant altar
where vows were made
not kept,
peering through the flock,
finding my little girl in the viewfinder
of a grey-suited stranger.

Filming her every pose,
he smiles, a smile he stole from me
and she smiles back
as I drift further out of focus.

I open my hymnbook,
but words on the page misbehave
leaving me miming a dirge to loss;
suppressing a scream…

Children resembling newlyweds
proceed to a garden feast,
joy on faces of innocence
departing through an arched doorway.

I remain alone in my pew,
a stranger to a recent past,
afraid of both pity and pride;
the ambush waiting
beyond an open door.

That is until, my legs disobey
and I’m in full glare
each set of eyes, like lasers
burning me to shut down.

I adjust my frown,
as I’m picked out of a lineup
the guilty, the loser, the weirdo;
my daughter wrapped around my waist
with adoration in her eyes
and as I hold her,
I lose myself in cathedral glass
never more alone in the mind.

editors note:

Wrapped in the ritual we regaled, pretending rite makes right. (This poem is included in David’s soon-to-be-released collection, “Through an Open Window.” Find out how to get your copy here. – mh clay

Under the Rainbow

featured in the poetry forum March 21, 2021  :: 0 comments

You saw me as a prisoner might observe a bird;
prompting my leave of relative poise
to step aboard your sadness
accepting an invitation
to the misshapen areas of your mind.

Beneath each crystal blue reservoir
hung a dam about to burst,
with the weight of my concern
initiating the flood.

Seeking sound footing
I slipped on the silt of your sincerity
sinking to skeletal remains
on the ocean floor
along the anchor chain
dug deep into your ruin.

Decades of decay flooded my senses,
as my stomach repelled
at the hole I’d made
sending me surfacing
like a geyser.

Your understanding smile greeted my return
where I remained,
floating beneath your rainbow
content for now,
while promising
to improve my stroke.

editors note:

Playing through to a good walk spoiled. – mh clay

Reclamation of Albion

featured in the poetry forum January 18, 2020  :: 0 comments

Through watery eyes the distant
village resembles a watercolour
painted by a peevish child.

Antediluvian howls ride winds
of pagan breath unhindered by
steel or wire; those symbols of

progress that feed rhetoric to
innocents, isolating communities,
depriving original thought from

simple minds; though not here.
Invigorated by primal virtue, I call
ancestors in deep inward breaths,

smell the essence of Albion, synthetic
garbs expunged, pagan spirit
reborn as I straighten like a birch.

Run through centuries, callused,
contused, away from ignorance;
bounding through bracken into

ancient rituals, feeling the pulse
of the land through swollen feet.
Atop of the highest hill, ancient

stone welcomes my homecoming
as I look to the valley; oak, beech,
and thorn meeting my clear eye

reclaiming my right and origin.
Breathless on the Pennine moor,
stooped in triumph, held fast by

piercing blasts among a sea of
succumbing grasses, I rejoice
in peace and perfect agony.

editors note:

An Englishman’s lament. – mh clay

Hogging the Blanket

featured in the poetry forum December 16, 2017  :: 1 comment

She removes her clothing,
cradles the naked girl
shielding her from the cold wind’s bite,
offering love of a different kind.

Knowing critics enter an open window,
indifferent to those observing
selfless intent, through dignified silence.

Those detractors who would
shake a pretty flower
into an ugly stem
to place on public display.

The gutless bastards that would
weave an itchy blanket
from the fibers of an ill-spun yarn
to throw over innocence.

She knows they come,
yet gladly hogs the blanket,
offering the damsel a fresh robe,
before standing bare to those
who see beyond the fabric.

editors note:

A case where those who stare and deride are the naked ones. – mh clay

And I?

featured in the poetry forum July 8, 2017  :: 0 comments

We’re nothing alike, my image and I,
it follows me to the bathroom,
denied access, it waits outside,
I bolt the door
and the world snaps shut!

Muffled sound, flat lined outsiders
expunged from my mind’s persuasion,
I tune into the echo of self-indulgence,
appearing to an audience of one.

No one knows out there,
the fiction writer
hiding behind multifaceted, flawed heroes,
one page short of capture.

A little chastisement
interlaced with, odd winks to myself,
there-there old son,
the reassuring stave-off of madness.

Held together by silicone
this one-liner guy,
is tongue-tied by whispers,
‘bitter everything’s’
groan through taps & pipes;
“Loser! Loser! picker & chooser”,
and as tiles pull faces,
I wash my own,
to drown them out.

The scales have their say,
but they’re not to be trusted,
I ignore their ‘fat bastard’ taunting
to peer at reflective deception,
and I buy it
with the only currency I hold.

Adjusting to ‘out there’ acceptance
I prepare to re-enter the peekaboo theatre
where no one is real,
least of all myself.

editors note:

Self is the most intense scrutiny. (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