The Beast of Moonlight

featured in the poetry forum September 19, 2019  :: 0 comments

My soul is gray like foam in a saucepan.
I pick up scattered socks, tights,
wish goodnight to my younger son,
check if the door is locked
to prevent the warty beast of moonlight
from finding our souls,
which remain unprotected till morning.
Now nothing can stop us from
romping on pink horses of dream
in rainbow marshes, but I still linger
like a Siberian tiger on an ice rink.
I cling to a book before going to sleep.
I put it down – the seconds of life melt
like sweet snow on the lips,
And I have already nearly melted.
But a sudden thought
yanks me out of the somnolent landscape.

A wild recollection
breaks into my mind like a burglar with a gun.
A small town, a nasty autumn, a bus, fields of stubble –
sutures are open,
but the threads are still there –
someone has removed the golden fetus of the sky.
She cried silently, hiding her face
in her wet hands, Medusa in a kerchief,
ashamed of her own withering eyes,
changing everything around not into stone,
but into a pulsing ulcer, into a diamond of shame.
The salty taste of tears.
Suffering is like a woman inside a marble block.
Knock-knock – she can’t sleep in there.
Where are you from?
Why did you come to me at this time of night?
I’m not a sculptor, and I’m not a vandal.

Another fragment of memory has attached itself to the first one:
a boy is alone at home late at night.
A chamber pot at the window. Heavy curtains.
Dim, sifted light of street lamps –
they look like black giraffes, and they are his best friends.
The dulcimer of loneliness whines slowly.
With such a sound, interns pull out teeth in a morgue. . .
But the waltzing swamps of sleep approach,
and the Creator drops pencils from His hands.
I hear a slight snoring, a rhythmic growl of the fridge.
A deep sigh in the heating pipes quickly fades,
and a green warty paw of the moon beast
gets out softly from behind the curtain…

– Dmitry Blizniuk

translated by Sergey Gerasimov from Russian

editors note:

What lurks behind YOUR curtains? – mh clay

Suffering is not a competition

featured in the poetry forum September 18, 2019  :: 0 comments

There are no judges
who weigh one person’s grief
against another’s,
no trophies
for the heaviest burden,
no ribbons
for the most deserving despair.

Do not compare.
That others have survived
worse will only add guilt
but not lessen
your depression.

You must still pull
yourself out of the swamp
by your own hair,
declare
yourself healed.

There will be no spectators
applauding at the finish line,
no paparazzi snapping,
no journalists waiting for an interview.

Only you
will know
that you have made it,
with nothing to show
but your heart still beating.

– Agnes Vojta

editors note:

Selah! – mh clay

Soul is a Wasteland

featured in the poetry forum September 17, 2019  :: 0 comments

Finger in my face
I would almost grab it
if I had the might to fight
but mouse is more house
less feeling than I care to admit
most days

Harsh words
scare my self-respect
right under the carpet
lives there with the dust mites
dead pieces of myself
maybe the rest will die too
while I wait for you
to be gentle with me
spirit always free

Tied to me must be
like dragging a dead leg behind you infection setting in
mottled skin I’m dying too
Mirror mirror face blue who’s the fairest
fair is
fare is owed to you
for carrying my blues
place to place
My soul a wasteland
desert sand through your fingertips
falls on parched lips
cry for summer seas, beach beers
cheers to the good times
You open your eyes to find… me
Not the headstrong
drive all night to get to you
sing song kids to sleep
deep in thought
fought for every minute of life Me

I buried her
in the dirt under every rug in the house
I have swept pieces of her
into the corners of children’s mouths
so they could laugh her into the wind breathe her in
My skeleton doesn’t live in closets
it sits in chairs
works bone grinding bone days
pays debts to make waves
in the desert sand

– Shelby Cross

editors note:

Inside and out, yes, be gentle. – 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.

– David P. Kozinski

editors note:

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

God of the In-Between

featured in the poetry forum September 12, 2019  :: 0 comments

These are the ones who don’t want me, them, those
and these: the ones with fire-crisped edges bent
and crackling who dream the orange-tipped tickling
tongues;

those whose syllables are ice, the frost clouds
their rimed clothing; the aged, the young, the thin-
and thick-skinned, the raging, the quiet,
the small-minded,

the big-… I pace the never-claimed betweens, inside
the branching edges, the assents neither majestic or
pinched where there is passage for two (not one
or the many)

rooms with seats for us few but not crowds, neither
parsimonious or grand, which doesn’t mean I know
nothing of passion or still perfection but that I know
how to live

– Neile Graham

editors note:

Wondering how many are these few? Is there an in-between these in-between? – mh clay

Social Climbers

featured in the poetry forum September 4, 2019  :: 0 comments

You
want
to reach
the top but
it seems like
everyone else
is racing to the
bottom of a mountain
of mass-produced crap
rolling downhill impeding
your will in an avalanche of
half-assed measures imitation
flavors and little plastic souvenirs
that last ten thousand years to remind
us all that Kilroy was here on a pile of
garbage left by social climbers at the summit.

– Stew Jorgenson

editors note:

In our race to the bottom, to be on top, let’s not forget what else rolls downhill. – mh clay

RESPONSIBILITY

featured in the poetry forum August 29, 2019  :: 0 comments

Forgive them their complacency,
that wooly paradox weighing them
to the couch, night after night,
a-shiver with unrealized longing—
it’s only the insoluble succor
of delight, pent with nerves rabid
over warmth and comfort,
savory crumbs lodged
in an ever-increasing diastema
that contorts the smile
into near coprophagic lunacy.

– Gregory Ross

editors note:

All they care is that you swallow, swallow, swallow… – mh clay

www

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

The neighbourhood dog
picks up the scent
of loneliness
of numbers flashing
on LED screens
caught in a web
of an invisible spider,
goldfish in a bowl
never quite
big enough,
God is an astronaut
drifting off
into empty space.

– Debarshi Mitra

editors note:

Small bodies drawn by larger, all adrift. – mh clay

Summer

featured in the poetry forum August 23, 2019  :: 0 comments

Summer greets me in my memory like an old friend
suddenly I am ten years old with dripping hair and tan, damp skin
the smell of chlorine and endless possibilities lingers in the air around me
I have never had my heart broken
today I am a mermaid with my own underwater kingdom to explore
I do not notice the flaws of my body or the flaws of the world
only the brilliant sunshine reflecting off the turquoise water like diamonds just for me

Some days I am filled with gratitude to not be ten anymore and to have acquired the hard earned knowledge I now hold
other days I desperately wish I could return to the time of my childhood when summer made me beam with joy instead of shudder with shame
bathing suit season
never thin enough
never shaped correctly
too smudged with freckles of past sun damage and stretch marks of past shape shifting

Why are we like this?
why can’t I learn from my ten year self who intuitively knew there are more supreme matters to focus on
like underwater kingdoms
and smelling fresh honeysuckle
and running with dogs
I believe it is worth remembering how it felt to be truly free as a child
so I am striving to let that buried part of me to surface
to teach who I am now how to be free again
and the absolute dire importance of that freedom

– Kerby Purser

editors note:

Important at ten; important now, as then. Remember when? – mh clay

here is

featured in the poetry forum August 20, 2019  :: 0 comments

here is my hand, tossing you the
keys in slow motion and your
borrowed car slipping into the
parking lot along with the rainwater.

here is guilt, sliding into a booth:
would you do it again?, i can feel
your mouth asking from across the
table every time it sips from your cup.

here is what i wanted to tell you:
i owe you poems like i owe you
a second chance or love: i don’t
but here i am showing up on paper

here is the end of the road, really:
are you happy now?, watching syrup
pool in the circular grid of your waffle,
perfect in a way we never achieved.

– M.P. Armstrong

editors note:

Bitter and sweet; syrup for the end of the road. Sigh! – mh clay