Back and Forth

featured in the poetry forum August 27, 2023  :: 0 comments

Back and forth,
Back and forth,
Like a tiger in a cage
Or maybe a lion —
Unable to stop,
Circled by the gaping crowd.
Back and forth,
Drowning anguish
In monotony of the movement.

Back and forth,
Back and forth
I pace in a cage.
The elevator is rising.
At least I’m alone.
Back and forth,
Unable to stop,
Ignoring the voice of wisdom.
Back and forth,
Drowning anguish
In monotony of the movement.

So, you never pace
Back and forth?
Good for you,
You haven’t been
In your cage yet.
Back and forth,
Unable to stop —
Nothing like
Drowning anguish
In monotony of the movement.

editors note:

When no progress, movement must do. – mh clay

An Ode to Cheshire Cat

featured in the poetry forum March 12, 2023  :: 0 comments

Your Mischievous Majesty Cheshire Cat,
Pray tell me, what do you think of that:
Lately, you are in my thoughts a lot —
Have you been following me or what?

When in the mornings at the mirror I stare
I search for myself, but I’m not there.
Am I a victim of identity theft?
Only a smile is all that’s left.

And though this smile is sort of mine
it morphs and twists like a tricky rhyme:
I see my mom, then my brother and
I glance again — and it’s my dad.

Your Shape-shifting Majesty Cheshire Cat,
Frankly, I try not to think of that,
But what if one day I forget how to smile?
Will I disappear, not just for a while,

But vanish completely? Don’t hide it, my friend:
Without the smile, there’s nothing: THE END.
When in the mornings at the mirror I stare
I search for the smile. I’m glad it’s still there.

editors note:

A stare at the health of a feline self. – mh clay

At Night

featured in the poetry forum December 1, 2021  :: 0 comments

At night, when tomorrow morphs into today
behind the curtain of fitful dreams
and thoughts like so many branches sway
above the abyss of subconscious streams,

At night, when sorrows like ravenous worms
feast on the flesh of my tired heart,
it’s your very presence, your breath and warmth
that keep my world from falling apart.

At dawn, when tomorrow becomes today
and threads of hope flash through morning light,
let’s share this gift of another day.
With luck, tomorrow will come tonight.

editors note:

Capturing that which never comes. – mh clay

The Writing on the Wall

featured in the poetry forum May 25, 2021  :: 0 comments

It was on the wall,
but the wall is ancient,
older than the skill of writing,
wrinkled with the cobweb
of past and future disasters.

It was scribbled
in the color of death
all over the grainy surface of
everyday existence:

But the writings on the wall
even if read
are never acted upon
in time.

editors note:

Good fortunes and happy mediums only, thanks. – mh clay

Take a Seat, Mom

featured in the poetry forum March 22, 2020  :: 0 comments

Take a seat, Mom, at my bedside,
Put your cool hand
On my burning forehead.
Tell me it will pass — only a flu —
Bring me a cup of tea and the pills,
Note the time I take them.
Lecture me on what I did wrong —
If only I had followed your advice…
Cook the chicken soup
And make sure I eat it.
Burst in a flurry of maternal rites,
Drive me mad in no time.
What am I — a perpetual baby?

Take a seat, Mom, at my bedside,
Even though you are no longer here.
Let me imagine your cool hand
On my burning forehead.

editors note:

We could use her cool hand about now… – mh clay

New Year’s Resolutions : Comprehensive Manual

featured in the poetry forum January 2, 2019  :: 0 comments

So, here it is, the newborn year,
All fresh and pink like a postcard baby,
Full of promise and irresistible urge
To engage in notorious resolutions.

To lose weight,
To write a book,
To go to Paris,
To learn Japanese,
To look at the stars,

Go ahead, take a clean sheet of paper
Or open a file from scratch
And write them down,
One by one, as they come.

To lose weight,
To write a book,
To go to Japan,
To learn Chinese,
To taste Chateau Margaux,

In no time you’ve filled out the page.
Well done! Preserve it for the future usage.
The urge is satisfied now.
Welcome into the New Year.

To lose this bloody weight,
To read a book,
To watch a movie about Japan,
To learn a hundred words in Chinese,
To taste Premier Cru,

As the year grows you adjust your plans.
Your resolutions wane
Like so many moons.
Nothing new under the sun…

To hell with this bloody weight.
Better read a book,
Watch a movie about Japan,
Learn a poem in French,
Drink a glass of wine with friends,

So, here you are again,
Awaiting for another New Year.
It’s time to look at your resolutions list
Which we preserved so wisely.

To lose weight,
To write a book,
To go to Japan,
To learn Chinese,
To taste Chateau Margaux,

If you find anything you achieved, kudos to you.
Now take the aforementioned list
And tear it into tiny pieces. This makes
Perfect snow for your New Year tree. Whatever.

To lose weight,
To read books,
To go to the cinema,
To learn Latin,
To make New Year’s resolutions,

Repeat the next year and for many years to come.

editors note:

In case you didn’t get around to this yesterday; here’s a guide to building your list (or, your resolve not to have one). – mh clay

Hi Mom

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

Hi Mom,
it’s been a while since we talked.
When was it? Yesterday?
So, I wrote a poem about that time
in the hospital when…
You know, when you told me,
“Don’t cry — all moms die”,
I sent the poem to a journal.
Guess what the editor said —
that it’s a cliche and cliches don’t sell,
and to accept his condolences if it’s true.
Well, who knew…
Don’t worry, Mom, all is well.
Let him take his condolences and his pay to hell.
I forgot — in America people don’t die.
They rest in peace or at least pass away,
straight to heaven, of course —
it’s polite, it’s what you’re supposed to say.
Dying is awfully rude — it’s an unspoken taboo,
a cliche everybody pretends
they would never go through.
By the way, ”through” at the end is another no-no,
although some say it’s a myth, even Pinker says so.
But as I’m not a native, my preposition at the end
would be considered nothing but an ignorant trend.
Never mind, Mom, I digress.
What? No, I don’t stress.
Yes, of course, everybody’s well.
The kids? Doing great.
Says who? When did I yell?
Ah, you heard me. It was nothing at all.
Just a little argument over a stupid show.
Yes, you’re right. I’ll do my best.
To be patient like you? That’s a good laugh.
No, nothing, Mom. Sure, I’ll give them love.
We all miss you.
The pain is not getting less.
I did it again — sorry, I always digress.
So long, Mom. We’ll talk again soon.
We both know you’re not in heaven
but in your grave with Dad.
Right, you’re both dead,
and yet you’re always with me.
Another cliche…
Oh well, I’ve got so many,
you see.

editors note:

From “as a newborn babe” to “as a doornail,” it’s all cliche. (We welcome Irena back to our crazy conclave of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her page – check it out.) – mh clay

How the Universe Works

featured in the poetry forum November 22, 2016  :: 0 comments

When your happy world
melting down to a tragic swamp,
sucking you into the depths of sorrow,
squeezing you with the burden of loss,
it’s as if the whole universe is





But rest assured:
the universe stays put,
never mind accelerating expansion.
Even when millions of happy bubbles
burst in a single explosion,
the universe doesn’t budge.
The show goes on,
with or without you,






to get used to
how the universe works.

editors note:

World without end (though, not for us), amen. – mh clay

Tough Hide

featured in the poetry forum August 29, 2016  :: 0 comments

They’ll do you in
With such thin skin.
Please, dear, I count on you:
Tighten your hide
For a bumpy ride,
Grow it an inch or two.

Girls, they’ll cut
Through your mild heart.
No, darling, this won’t do:
Turn it to stone
And make it known
Rock is softer than you.

Crooks will pretend
To give you a hand.
Take care, I’m begging you:
Weaken your trust
If you want to last,
Beware, whatever you do.

So, with tough hide
On this bumpy ride,
With heart, harder than stone,
And with zero trust
You’re bound to last —
So what if you die alone.

editors note:

Survival need not be solitary. – mh clay

Editor’s Lullaby

featured in the poetry forum December 28, 2013  :: 0 comments

(In response to a loud sequence of Waaaa! and Aaaa!)

Thank you for your submission.
I regret to inform you
that we are unable to use it
at this time of night.

There’s nothing new here,
in your indignant tears.
They didn’t grab me.
This needs a better twist.

The title of this should just be Waaaaaa,
but really, with all these repetitions
and self-indulging emotion
your poem is beyond salvation.

We wish you good luck
in placing your poem elsewhere.

Will you kindly shut up —
don’t ruin your relationship
with the editor.

editors note:

Yes, friend poets – Editors! Can’t live with’em, can’t live without’em. – mh