April 1, 2023  :: 0 comments

Robert awoke into a mirror world. Everything was the opposite of what it had been, and yet exactly the same. The sun was rising in the west, yet hadn’t it previously risen in the east? Or had it always been the way it was today and he was just confused? At least it wasn’t rising in the north or south. …

My Astonishingly Powerful Item!

featured in the poetry forum February 14, 2023  :: 0 comments

I possess magic! I have purchased an astoundingly powerful item that whisks me where I want to go in the blink of an eye! When I’m riding in my astoundingly powerful item, I feel strong, huge, cool, and smart! I am superman! Nobody better get in my way!

Oops, I killed a child. I didn’t think my astoundingly powerful item could do that.

editors note:

But we want one, just the same. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum September 13, 2022  :: 0 comments

One day, Al decided to apologize. He apologized to his wife for the many times he’d sarcastically undercut her and his one brief affair. He apologized to his children for occasional temper tantrums and for not having enough money to provide them with the lessons and tutoring and exotic vacations other parents in his suburb managed. He apologized to his dog for the time he’d forgotten her outdoors in the cold and she’d almost died. He apologized to his coworkers for the times he’d depended on them to finish up work he should have gotten to.

Al apologized to the Earth for how much he polluted her with his large, used cars and his propensity for turning up the air conditioning on hot summer days. He apologized to Black people for his apathy in doing anything at all to advance the struggle for racial equality and for his cowardice in not standing up for a kid bullied in high school. Similarly, he apologized for not standing up for a probably gay kid and for even participating a bit in the bullying. Al apologized to hungry children overseas, even in the city near his suburb, even a few in the suburb itself, for not donating even a bit to help. He apologized to Democracy for doing so little to protect it beyond voting once every four years (and sometimes mid-terms).

Al failed in only one important apology–to himself.

editors note:

Sorry starts with self. – mh clay

The Mouse Is a Chess Grandmaster

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

Had that mouse been in our house forever? I remembered her tormenting our cats, dancing past them. In fact, she appeared just before we inherited Callie from my mother. “Ha,” I thought, “what horrid timing for the poor creature; our new cat will soon take care of her.” It turned out Callie was pathetic as a mouser, swift and aggressive, yes, but clumsy, pouncing blindly, swiping at empty air, as the little rodent dashed past. Even when we got Thelma, a more thoughtful and methodical hunter, the clever mouse continued to win their chess games, darting from some unexpected corner, or scuttering out from under the stove or refrigerator, taking strange, unexpected turns in mid-flight that defied the laws of physics.

My wife thinks it was not one mouse, but many, some small and bright-eyed, others browner, fatter, furrier. And there were months and years when the mouse did not appear. But I know better. If it was not the same mouse physically, growing older, more filled out, slower but wiser over the years, it was the same mouse spiritually. My wife is too hung up over the physical world, linear thinking, natural laws, to realize that the very same being has been tormenting our poor cats over all these centuries.

And now the mouse has appeared again, in the form of a cat, like a pawn that has advanced to the last row and been promoted to Queen. Now the mouse is the new Callie, small, energetic, calico yet darker, in tortoiseshell form. Instead of a filthy scourge that we fear will sicken us, she is now our best beloved. And now a new mouse—or is it the same old mouse?—has reemerged to torment her.

editors note:

Mouse to Queen to Cat to Mate; the best mousetrap. (This poem comes from Ethan’s latest collection, “Dreamscapes.” Get your copy on Amazon – check it out.) – mh clay

Nirvana in a Pill

featured in the poetry forum September 28, 2021  :: 0 comments

The little man with the sweetness of Nirvana written in the creases on his face had given me the pill I’d long prayed for. It was the pill with the answer to life, happiness, why we are here, why there is evil, whether there is an afterlife, how to cure the common cold, and the meaning of it all. I swallowed it down with a shot of whisky, as he had instructed, and began the 24-hour wait for it to take effect.

That night, a resonant voiceover interrupted my dreams to warn of unintended side effects. “Caution—this pill may cause blurred vision, dizziness, tortured breathing, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, diarrhea, constipation, hallucinations, palpitations, sheer frustration, indignation, anger all around the nation, strange visions, delusions of grandeur, feelings of utter despair and insignificance, nightmares, daymares, I-just-don’t-caremares, myopia, dystopia, give-up-hopia, and the common cold. If you experience any or all of these, do not call your doctor—it is too late!”

As I awoke, the strange little man’s face appeared floating in the air like a balloon. “Perhaps I should have explained that the 24-hour period for this pill to take effect is a metaphor,” he said. “The actual waiting period is an entire lifetime, from dawn to dusk of the body and soul.”

editors note:

Our daily dose can be a bitter pill. – mh clay

Life Advice

May 8, 2021  :: 0 comments

Vacationing in a small hut on the beach, or rather attending an unimportant convention, we stepped outside to a glorious morning: blazing sun, sparkling sand, gulls glinting and squawking as they swooped above, ocean waves dancing upon the beach. We began the long walk to the convention halls, my wife rapidly, impatiently ahead, gaining ground as usual. She swooped into …

Are We Poems?

featured in the poetry forum October 14, 2020  :: 0 comments

The story is writing you,
you are not writing the story.
The poem is your life
your life is not a poem.

Your life is many poems
perhaps an epic
of a wily adventurer

perhaps a sonnet
of a doomed love affair
a sun quickly setting.

Perhaps a poet is writing this
perhaps a failed comic
is stuttering it on a grand stage
as tomatoes rain down.

This poem is not being written
this poem is writing the world.

This world is only stories
this world is only dreams
an intricate bouquet of
milkweed, chicory, Joe Pye weed

that words strain to capture
flickering ghosts on a video screen

without writers there is no world
without a world no writers.

This world is flitting
always on the edge of

This world is eternal
it will outlive us all
all of us who create it.

editors note:

Gods and us, avid readers all. (This poem is included in Ethan’s recently published collection, “Words for Things Left Unsaid,” available from Kelsay Books. Read Mike Fiorito’s Mad review of it. Then get your own copy from Amazon or directly from the publisher here. Check it out!) – mh clay

Fruitflies Are Eternal, Poems Die Every Instant

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

So many poets, so few readers.

Poems are born and die at an exponentially accelerating rate.

The lucky ones flock to their internet homes
where they’re downloaded by 3 people each,
glimpsed for 15 or 20 seconds,
flickering impulses of our collective conscious
lost to eternity.

Many are gorgeous
expressing the most profound impulses
of the human soul.

editors note:

Let those pleasing profundities light the luck you lift in 15 to 20 seconds. – mh clay

Ellington Lives, in Heaven, in Hell, on YouTube

featured in the poetry forum September 15, 2019  :: 0 comments

Angels dance on piano keys
spontaneous, blinding
hither and yon, traversing black and white.
Perfection in motion.

The marriage of heaven and hell
gorgeous chaos, tumultuous harmony.

A horde of horns
leaps in,
a mad chase
call and response.

Angels dance
a garden
of forking paths
a circuitous maze
each twist, turn, zig, zag, shuffle, leap, pirouette
perfectly planned.

This heavenly choir
satanic convergence
cackling cantankerous conversation
howls from hell to the heavens
in devious delight.

Our hosts from high and low
romance the raw repressed
bounce and bubble
a cacophonous choir.

Rocking in Rhythm,
summoning us all
to heaven
and beyond.

editors note:

Proof! The devil’s music? Stolen from above. – mh clay

Precarious Is an Understatement

featured in the poetry forum September 19, 2018  :: 0 comments

I am perched
atop a knife edge
balanced on a dead
tree trunk
on the lip of a volcano
suspended on a sheet of melting ice
floating on an ocean boiling with rage
itself in a miniscule depression
on a vast turtle’s back.
The turtle is
flapping its tiny flippers
desperately trying to cross
an ethereal nothingness
punctuated by wisps of mist.

There cannot be wisps in nothingness.

All of this is an illusion
conceived in the mind of a monarch butterfly
radiant with hope
or with love
or with nihilism
on the edge of extinction
perched on my nose
like a universe of feathers.

I remain teetering on the knife edge
as it cuts into the sole of my foot,
the fate of my soul
floating in
the misty, empty air.

The butterfly flutters frantically
trying to reach the end of the universe
it has itself created
but unable to lift off from my huge semitic nose.

Perhaps it is going backwards
it will die soon
it will live forever
Although if life is an illusion
then death is an illusion.

I am struggling to juggle
three flaming bowling pins.
My hands are burning.

I don’t know how long I can suppress a sneeze.

editors note: In all this tuck and tumble, we strive just to stick the landing; now this? No landing? (We welcome Ethan to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay