featured in the poetry forum June 1, 2015  :: 1 comment

woman in her parlor.
legs pressed together,
arms folded

framed document on the wall,
a degree in dentistry

speaks with a thick accent,
reads newspapers in Croatian

she wants to practice but can’t get certified,
so she cleans hotel rooms,
up before dawn,
tired by midday

her eyes are red with bloody dust,
her hands are gravel rough

any more sitting, thinking,
and she’d be tight and thin
and hard as a drill-bit

so sometimes,
she sits before the mirror,
tilts her head back,
tells herself to open wide

editors note:

We don’t make it easy here. Getting that job pulling teeth can be harder than pulling teeth. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum December 17, 2014  :: 0 comments

He holds down a factory job
so he can keep the farm.
Early morning,
he punches in twice,
once via hands squeezing cow teats,
the second with a yellow card
slotted into an old gray time clock.

He’s a weary man
after a hard day on the assembly line,
a twilight in the tractor saddle,
plowing up the earth and gravel.

He could toss it in any time,
move to a tiny town apartment,
but the farm was in the family
when there was no town.
And under the bed,
there’s a box of photographs,
faded glossies of watching eyes.

On Sundays,
it’s church
and visiting his wife’s grave.
God’s no help,
Clara’s dead.
It’s a day of rest
with a hole in the middle.

editors note:

To look upon this life as “plight” robs us all of hope and light. – mh


June 14, 2014  :: 0 comments

There is always a sea crazy enough to want you.
to throw you back a hundred times but keep you ninety nine.

Imagine a life lived on the tide-line,
frothing feet and tanning absolution –

Seek out in the golden rays, your salt-washed friends.
Open up your heart to the skillet of the sands.


featured in the poetry forum June 14, 2014  :: 0 comments

The bomb in my head makes it through the neighborhood
without exploding. The Christian blood is safe. The floral
carts survive. The weather-vanes pitch and spin. Wind
is light-headed and blowing. No ghosts will travel on its
silky rails this night. My oaths have soothed at the sight
of people’s faces. My anger took a wrong turn down an
alley, is lost among the dusty corridors of a secondhand
bookstore. If the people only knew, they’d be cheering me.
For the black-rot of my heart is into penance not revenge.
And all because I didn’t stay in my room but took a stroll
through the dancing hearts, the comic hats, sidewalks like
ironed handkerchiefs, all around me, the crackle of human
electricity and fever, drivers in their traffic cradle, pigeons
handfed by the girl with the face most round and bright
as moons. The pain in this bottle of me didn’t realize
that it could glow incandescent. My footsteps weren’t thinking
clouds and now they are. I can’t provoke what is no
longer in me. The future makes such a fool of today
that I may as well enjoy it. Sorrow will have other
dark and gloomy hours. For now, the shepherd of niceties
has never watched over a more willing hapless sheep.
Little does he know, he saves it from its own wolves.

editors note:

Cooling off is emptying out in the shadow of the predator. In the with the good air… – mh


featured in the poetry forum January 17, 2014  :: 0 comments

The wind is icy, the stars far,
but youth spins and glides
across the ice-pond,
carves deep, round, figure eights,
startles hungry ducks.

Behind the gravestone,
lovers frighten sparrows,
mourners, even the wild-flowers
draping the cross.
When nascent bodies
prod and arch,
death must wait its turn.

A child chases squirrels,
tosses rocks at pigeons.
A running boy
knocks an old man into oblivion.
A young girl’s moment
is fresher, prettier than
the grandmother’s ninety years.

It’s their world,
to do with
as their sons and daughters please.

editors note:

Yup, ours to have as they will. They think it’s their’s, too…for now. – mh


featured in the poetry forum June 26, 2013  :: 0 comments

Another stripper in another town.
This one dances on a table
like all the other tables.
And it’s the same dance surely,
because look at those legs.
Those are Fargo, North Dakota legs.
They’re Melbourne, Florida legs.
And they move the same way
they moved in Baltimore and Kansas City.
So he feels like the same
jaded piece of crap
he was in Baton Rouge
and in Spokane
and in Des Moines.
No matter where you are it’s always the same.
Women get naked.
Men beat them to it.

editors note:

Yup! Naked; our erotic imaginings. But no guy can guess what she’s thinking; except, for sure, it’s not about us. – mh


featured in the poetry forum September 16, 2012  :: 0 comments

I have the post card from Kathmandu,
and the hastily scribbled letter
on paper with a Hotel Alexandria letterhead.
She called me from Bruges,
my one and only conversation
with that part of my world.
And now, here she is in my parlor.
A tan from Tahiti, a Tongan bracelet,
and stories out of Singapore, Bhutan and Bali.
My next question is,
can anything happen in this part
of the world?
Is resting up from a journey
still a journey?

She saw Peter she says.
She spent an hour or two with her mother.
Same issues. The more the world turns,
the more some people resist its motion.
She had lunch at the Cafe Rita.
And dinner with friends at the Pink Arcade.
She even tested out the job market…
about as seriously as those times
she gave up smoking pot.

Fact is, she’s doing stuff
that’d fit neatly into short sentences,
fill the back of a postcard.
Anything more complicated
and a letter could still contain it all.
Worse comes to worse,
she could always fit her life
into a phone call made
to someone or other
she’s met along the way.
And there’s always the trinkets:
a coffee cup from Starbucks,
an MP3 of Steely Dan,
jeans from Target,
a World Series t-shirt.

Watch out world,
it’s your parlor next.

editors note:

A large life; learned from postcards and parlor talk, legitimized by trinkets. Don’t forget those trinkets. – mh


featured in the poetry forum February 19, 2012  :: 0 comments

the face may taunt
but it’s my own

it may look at me
with undisguised disgust
but it has no doubt
as to the object
of this revulsion

it examines this
catalog of features
both aggravating
and despairing
runs them through
a reflecting program
of past failure
current dismal situation
and future limited prospects

and responds
with something called
a mirror image

wherever there’s a likeness
can a hate-ness be far behind

editors note:

Is what we see always a construct of how we feel? Maybe the best we can achieve after likeness is indifferent-ness. – mh


featured in the poetry forum July 9, 2011  :: 0 comments

How come you’re so ominous and large?
What made you grow so suddenly?
And why are the voices, your voice,
most of the touch
where you plant your hands?
What made you dusk and sunrise,
everything in the mirror almost,
over half the footsteps and
the movement in this house?
Where did your threat come from,
the very harshness of your thunder?
Why am I dressed your way,
groomed your way?
Why do I feel like
the small farm
encircled by the huge dam?
You can burst at will
to drown me.
Yes, love sounds so sophisticated
when sugaring the tongue.
But what made you all tongue?
What left me all sugar?


featured in the poetry forum January 18, 2011  :: 0 comments

They slip about so gracefully
but I imagine them in heavier seas,
their hulls battered,
sails tortured,
wealthy owners scurrying about
like ants in a stomped-on hill.

They flaunt their masts at me
like they own the weather,
the stillness of this protected cove
but I’m already grooming them
for a hideous sinking,
a pitiless green water devouring.

A pretty woman in a red bikini
waves to me
and I wave back from the shore.
She smiles, a thankful smile,
like she already knows
she’ll be the only survivor.