An Easter Poem in Irwin, Pennsylvania

featured in the poetry forum July 4, 2021  :: 0 comments

they would line us up
in the parking lot
of the old hills department store

covered in fake green grass
& plastic eggs filled with penny candies
blowing a whistle
to start things off

we’d claw at each other
the closer we got

tufts of hair
& some light bruising
were a small price to pay

easter egg hunts
were how the romans
first developed a taste for blood
during the great
cabbage patch kid
craze of 1982

minutes later
sunlight poured down
on the ancient ruins
of a suburban strip mall

where we had lived
like yellow chicks squawking
in plastic baskets

the air still cool
the world went quiet
in the back
of a ford escort.

editors note:

Training for life as the pious public in America. – mh clay

Kathy McDougal’s Boyfriend

featured in the poetry forum February 14, 2021  :: 0 comments

says he won’t wear a face mask
because he just can’t live in fear

someone once said live free or die

that’s where we’re lucky

now we can do both.

editors note:

Ha! Stupid is an inalienable right, after all. – mh clay

You Don’t Have to Go Home But You Can’t Stay Here

featured in the poetry forum August 11, 2020  :: 0 comments

for Chris Knopp

true love is six feet away
from where i am standing

the moon is a beautiful sinking boat
when it winks at toledo

my heart can’t whistle

the bar is closed

the sky is a dead industry

the only songs i know

are about girls.

editors note:

No door, ceiling, or song to keep love true. – mh clay

Poem for Mark Pearce

featured in the poetry forum March 2, 2020  :: 0 comments

you tell me about your father
dead at 49

we are all just trying
to keep moving

our hearts under attack
every minute of every day

love isn’t a speeding train
but more of a ceasefire
set to music.

editors note:

And solitude, a full-on assault… – mh clay

Having the Croup in 1979

featured in the poetry forum August 5, 2019  :: 0 comments

meant that i couldn’t yell
not even on the inside
only whoop like a bird
with my underdeveloped lungs
trying to escape
the trailer park even then
as the knack sang
on the radio
about things
more precious
than air.

editors note:

Always seeking that precious breath of fresh. – mh clay

Huck in Old Age

featured in the poetry forum March 1, 2019  :: 0 comments

as curly sits playing keno
he offers me a shot of hot damn
while telling me how last summer
he took a group of writers out on his boat
& mentions that he doesn’t really even like to read

but he has a sense of adventure

he is huck decades later
searching for becky thatcher
from the same barstool almost every night

the fog is thick in his mind
but he is still the closest thing to mark twain
franklin county has on a tuesday afternoon

o sweet becky thatcher
i can feel the heat
coming off of his glass
every time
he mentions your name.

editors note:

When what if is better than what happens. Hot damn! – mh clay

The Boy from Bartlesville

featured in the poetry forum July 27, 2018  :: 0 comments

prophets were born and raised here
their bones in the pipeline of the past
when each man was his own tribe

when the lenape cried out
in the sunlight
for mother’s milk

after the jug of the spirit
had gone empty

when the boy from bartlesville
watched young girls dance
just outside his window

pacing the ward floor
waiting for muhammad
to seek his advice

when invisible prairies still offered
the possibility of young love

when the cosmos was powered
by white bread & gasoline

when wind ripped through these fields
like the last gust of breath from the dead

when nothing sacred
could be held down
by a stone.

editors note:

When what was, isn’t now; it takes a true tribesman to figure it out. – mh clay

The Only Thing

featured in the poetry forum January 13, 2018  :: 0 comments

for Victor Clevenger and Everette Maddox

written down
on the bathroom wall
of the maple leaf bar


tell my mother i love her

somewhere the marrow
of our speech
is always
faint praise

& we are all veterans
of some invisible war

but we still need these memories
& plenty of paper towels
to wash our hands.

editors note:

Soap for the soul – wash up, now. (We welcome John to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

The Midwestern Guide to Time Travel

featured in the poetry forum September 4, 2017  :: 0 comments

for Mark Shaffer

remember to dance in a 10 ft steel cage
one for every year of your life

to dream of a future
filled with flying cars
and international date lines
that seem as limitless
as homespun wisdom

somewhere a little voice
tells you to drown a mermaid
in 39 ft of water or a hill of dirt

it sings for blood
as the sun
touches your skin.

editors note:

Casualties; your trail of crumbs to mark the way. – mh clay

Moon Over Eufaula, Oklahoma

featured in the poetry forum May 4, 2017  :: 0 comments

for Victor Clevenger

just south of muskogee
dumpster cats guard crumbling pyramids
& discarded bbq grills
in the moonlight

the creek nation girls still dance
in honor of their own virginity
covered in dust
& humble bones
yelling free bird lives

free bird lives

here everyone is loyal
& your breath just hangs there
as heavy as a cloud

& apartments are shaped
like tombstones

& the outline of a girl’s hips
in the shadow of a lonely gas station
can still transport you back
to a better time.

editors note:

free bird lives, yes! – mh clay