Start Knowing Joy

featured in the poetry forum October 18, 2022  :: 1 comment

Start now knowing joy,
that’s an order,
overcome a deepening solitude.

Like a bee at a bugle
or me at the deli
on Third Avenue.

I said to Joe when do you think this weather will break?
He jokes, April.
That’s no joke. Weak creatures die and the strong barely survive.

Half a year goes by
another cancer checkup.
Cheer up. Any weather’s

better than no weather at all
and there’s always governance
even when there is no government.

My candidate drops out
after Iowa. Why do I always lose
at politics and poker?

Peace at last!
No lawnmowers, no leafblowers.
Big comfy couch.

Meditate on this: Do what has to be done.
Find your lover gazing at the moon
and take your garbage to the dump.

Your website evaporates
and your possessions are thrown in the dumpster
except your trumpet which finds its way to a future trumpeter.

– Robert Ronnow

editors note:

Joy in providing another man’s treasure. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum October 17, 2022  :: 1 comment

The azure waters
Lured me to the shores
The vivacious waves
Washed me to lands unknown
And the men on the shore,
Filled my plate every evening.

Like a magician playing
With the pigeons hidden
Under his elbows,
The rolling seas cooing
hand me the corals and atolls
Shells and dreams of mermaids too.

What do i gift to you, in return
Oh, folks on the shore?
I snatched your fishing nets,
I stole your golden shores
I erase the sand on my heels
On the wall of boulders

The blue walls of your tiny houses
Crumble, and i crowd you
In dark rooms, of no relief.
I huddle you away
From the waves and my heart.
In your sleep, your heart sings
The songs of the seas.

The fury of the storms and
the saint on the shore lament,
“You are the man who gives stones,
to your children
when they ask for a loaf”
Nature still laughs the last laugh,
For sure, it is as hard as the shore-lashing waves.

– Jaya Abraham

editors note:

They take your all and call it a favor. The curse of colonialism. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum October 12, 2022  :: 0 comments

from my mother’s   daughter’s waist beads
& tuft of free-hand woven hairstyle

see the culture returning   from unhealthy
unhealthy bodies   exiting cancerous

truth is   there’s too much homeliness
in breaking kola with   people’s language
too much nativity in offering libations.

& happy we’re picking our old veils
from toying with them in the pigsty.

we usually bathe in a confined room—
a step or two   away from the dining room
but who knows its freedom
running to dive into & swim in the river?

today   we’re decolonizing everything
bail out ourselves from the psycho-incarceration

& now dine on garnished abacha
gulp zobo from brown calabash

& quaffing free rushing waters   the one from
Ebonyi river   & greeting everybody in the

mother tongue & that’s what it means to be   home & home running through your veins.

– Nweke Benard Okechukwu

editors note:

The worst appropriation is when one culture consumes another. Be at home. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum October 11, 2022  :: 0 comments

After Mike Dillon’s World War ll.

The final destruction my father misinterpreted
Was acted perfectly in my brother’s school play
And thank goodness for my phone recorder.
On our way home,
The recording leaked into reality.
My aunt in Texas called to remind
Me of verses 51 & 52 of Surah Al-qalam.
I peeped through the windscreen
And buses and the people they conveyed
Looked exquisite as terror:
Young boys were conquering
As much as the war was,
Shoulder blades aligned in the masjid
Between the famine and the deaths.
As we alighted the car, with love,
Between my trembling feet and the mantra,
I worried my neck to pronounce hawa as love
Between my mother’s sadness.
I wanted to know where the stress lay.
I wanted to know how it felt to carry a
Sad vision home.
I wondered how many words my father misinterpreted,
Knowingly and unknowingly.
And how many verses I still had time to recite.

– Abdulrazaq Salihu

editors note:

No matter how it ends, we want to see it from a distance. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum October 5, 2022  :: 0 comments

You were never the winner nor the runner up, you were bronze.
You were the finalist child pianist prodigy (regional)
You were the County champion who gave it all up
You were the nearly took a Master’s degree
You were the face on the inside, not the cover of the NME
You were the one that could have had a doctorate
You were your mother’s only son except you weren’t
You were the flu that was only a cold
You were bronze.

You were gorgeous until they knew you better and laughed at you
You were charming until you were unmasked inevitably as a bore
You took out patents for the things we never even knew we needed
You followed the complicated recipe, but it never ever did taste good
You were the lover extreme you thought, but you were just needy
Your band was the romo-ist of the romos on the day that music changed
You were bronze.

You were yesterday’s man, the also-ran, the flash in the pan, the house built on sand
You were numbers one to eight on a ten-point plan
You were the poemless poet, the easily led, the gutless hero, the Procrastinator General.
You were not the Bradley Wiggins nor the pinnacle of perfection
And your bike ride revolutions will not be televised
You did like green eggs and ham and were not Sam I am
You were not a Jeepster for my love
Nor were you any type of victim when you dumped me
It was not some enchanted evening nor a tragic B-side tale from the beloved Smiths.
You were not ol’ blue eyes, Johnny Thunders, Albert Einstein, nor Garbo.
You were not writ large upon the firmament of fame.
You were bronze.

– Karen Withecomb

editors note:

Even though you place, you’ll leave no trace. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum September 29, 2022  :: 0 comments

It is a loop.
We suffer from rage and
Being impressed with ourselves
And so expand our chests, expand
Our chimeral wealth, expand
Our tribal reach and so commit
Unspeakable violence, sing
Of self, discord and domination.
Then we defeat ourselves, look back,
See we have accomplished nothing,
Push forward our sincere regrets.
We redefine wealth, offer homage
To humility, subdue the worship
Of self, learn the lattices of cooperation.
In twenty years we have forgotten,
And enter the cycle again. Perhaps
If we go around enough, we get a prize.

– Ken Poyner

editors note:

You’d think we would, at least, get dizzy. – mh clay

I Am Not the Jealous Type but It Still Strikes Me

featured in the poetry forum September 21, 2022  :: 0 comments

I take my lunch to work in a plastic bag
marked from the local liquor store
In a hurry, I don’t notice
but someone does and
I start thinking about the dead bird
I passed walking to work that day
I named it Lucky and now, it’s
singing to me in surround sound
Harder to focus
on the small talk-sword in my stomach

I’m nowhere and
Lucky is everywhere

– Casey Renee Kiser

editors note:

Paper or plastic; it takes some luck to stab your way out. – mh clay

Up from Calumet

featured in the poetry forum September 19, 2022  :: 0 comments

Up from angled roads paved on top of ancient beach ridges
that were once the trails of indigenous people
from sedge meadows, calcareous prairies
too sandy, too wet, to plow
where sand was mined to build the railroads and highways
where king rails fish in greenish yellow slag leached marshes

Up 294 North, 80 West from Calumet
past Thornton Quarry, past Ford Motor Company
past the pig services plants
past metal scrap yards
and the Old Indian Boundary Line

past the Alsip water tower and the Swap-O-Rama red white and blue

past billboards that advertise
fireworks just over the border,
a showcase of all the local injury lawyers
who will get you the money the world owes you

past backhoes and cranes
and rows and rows of jersey barriers
past dump trucks filled with gravel to make new things
and others filled with broken pieces of old roads
to be taken away, but not very far
to join a hundred years of spoil piles
that riddle the South Side
as sure as air raid sirens will be tested on Tuesday mornings
and the coyotes will howl back at them from forest preserves
where they live unnoticed by their human neighbors
or occasionally are mistaken for dogs

The cars and semi-trucks speed directly at me
then under me, sitting in the Southland Oasis
above the overpass looking through walls
of glass at the traffic
watching the circulation of a giant heartless artery

reflections of beautiful young women moving behind me
float like ghosts in the glass… and disappear
I hear the year’s first red-winged blackbirds
far away; almost drowned out by the sound
of the traffic.

– Dan Spencer

editors note:

What we can watch beside the dotted-white line. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum September 18, 2022  :: 0 comments

My father and I
beneath the monarch oak
a sapling thrives

fading into the fog
a kayak appears

a lingam melting

– Kashiana Singh

editors note:

In flashes of synapse, we sense the divine. – mh clay

The Last Supper

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

Blunt guts discarded
along the kitchen counter

toilet lid busted in half
on the bathroom floor

fire damage in the pantry
next to the refrigerator
tagged with graffiti

and naked pinup posters
cover fist craters
in the hallway walls.

You have the last supper—
a chuck steak cooked to
the temperature of moo

and some boxed red wine
you drink from a styrofoam cup—
before you finally
have to turn over your key.

It’s safe to say
you’re not getting
the security deposit back.

– Cord Moreski

editors note:

It’s the landlord’s loss when you live large. – mh clay