DRINK TEA

featured in the poetry forum September 16, 2019  :: 0 comments

A savage beating
With a monkey wrench
A spine smashed in two
By a scaffold pole
And a mob waiting outside
All of them armed
With sticks bats and knives

Last night I dreamt
Of all of these things
And many more besides

But this morning
When I awoke
I found that nearly
Eight years had passed

Now –
I don’t want revenge
And I don’t have
A magic double-edged sword

All I want
Is to stop this mind thinking
That it understands
And from willing this fool
To do what its
Brief blossoms want

To eat this fresh peach
And to keep on eating it
Only

Until its shape
And its colour
Its skin and its taste
Become no more than a peach
And still no peach at all

Ha!

That’s all any fool dreams

editors note:

The beating and the balm, a fool’s dream. – mh clay

STRATH BLAZE

featured in the poetry forum June 22, 2019  :: 0 comments

A small bag
A torch
A tin box and pipe

These are the tools

To present my past
To rescind the guilt
To connect to the source
Of what I am not

Some call it magic
An other
Nature

But names are misplaced
On this false print of paths
And easily pierced
By their own savage thorns

So
Forget about this
And leave behind that

Crossing the bridge
Flies buzz on the burn

Kill the mind child
Return this earth to the dust

editors note:

The magic we make, in time, unmakes us. Naturally! – mh clay

GUILTY – ALIBI

featured in the poetry forum February 24, 2019  :: 0 comments

Leave summer there
To bleed into the sea
Autumn is coming down hard

The mountain retreats
The backstreet brothels
The street photographs
The excuse that I was drunk
The boxing titles
And all of the countless blood baths

All of them are gone
All of them are done now

Like that springtime record
And all of my government names
I have one stone cold alibi
That needs no rehearsing
And needs no fake feelings posed
When winter comes knocking
With its unasked for inquiries
About whether
This was indeed that
Or that was indeed this

September 26 1972

That is all I am saying
I have no further comment

Let them state for the record
Whatever they want

I have already said –
No further comment

The footage has long been deleted
And all the evidence burned

By the crematorium fire
By the valium blues
And by this disrupted sentence
That now breaks and then falls
Like the leaves and the ash
Around my blistered feet
Lapped by the last rays of
My own summer’s breath

editors note:

In the end, our best defense is none at all. – mh clay

TEN – TIGER BONES

featured in the poetry forum August 29, 2018  :: 0 comments

Next week –
Ten –
A new set of bones
Old and burned white
By the dead tiger moon

Will I climb up?
Or will I stand down?

I don’t think there’s a choice
Or a need to explain

To wise men
To fools
To doctors
To books

All they carry is baggage
More grist for its teeth

So
Leave it alone
And leave it all there

Look to the distance
No need to look back

I have seen the carnage
And it’s far safer here

The clean sun of my shelter
Covered not casting
Any more blood for the trail

editors note:

Keep a cozy cover, a clean count, and your blood to yourself. – mh clay

NEAR DARK

featured in the poetry forum June 29, 2018  :: 0 comments

City freeze
Or subway cold
I can’t quite
Reach out and touch
The shiver at its edge

That distant feeling
Which will not reveal itself
In the neon-lit darkness
Of its own atmosphere

Is it sadness
Or is it loneliness?

I really don’t care
If it’s which or if it’s either

I only want
To feel and embrace
Its closed emptiness
As I walk these streets alone

Static
Grey
Rain swept and blurred

Somewhere
Other
Neither here nor there

That is where I want to be

Somewhere
I know without feeling
Is unreal but always present

Far beyond the shadow
Of my silhouette
Far from the shell
Of this pale skin and bone

Somewhere
Fading with these echoes

Somewhere still more alive

editors note:

That “thing” we all feel; that fascinating emptiness, we can stand for a little, but not for long. Poets whistle in the dark; to make it come close, then to make it go away. – mh clay

MOONLIGHT SHIFTING

featured in the poetry forum March 18, 2018  :: 0 comments

The piano
Keys
The night
And the doubts

If I can make it
Through another week
If I can repair what I have broken

Without a drink
With the money that I don’t have
With all the people who have now gone

This September, it will be forty five
This October, it will be seven
And this November, it will be one month

Born
Divorced
Sober

Like photographs of Shinjuko
Like letters from Sabadell

They are just something
To put down
Something for these thoughts
To tie their petty selves to

Like Guanyin, like beads
Like numbers, like time

Tonight
Tomorrow
Sunday
Next week

Tell me
Go on, tell me, please –

Does he comfort you
Each and every night?
Will they carry on working
When you cannot afford to pay?
Can you tell me if any of your teachings
Have ever truly conquered death?

No
I have lost track of all the conversations
And they have lost all track of me

Las Huertas con Carlos
Kunming with Da Ma
136 with The Hurricane

This mind has too many stories
To keep itself occupied
But no attention for the detail

Like the raspberries in the alcohol
Like the mountain brothel honeymoon

I can hear
The glass screen break
And feel it shove
Those Beijing shards
Straight back down my opiated throat

All carved out charm for prostitutes
All blackened blood from a poisoned tongue

Mèng

Lóng

Would you forgive?
Would you forget?
Would you ever believe a word of it?

No

From Khaosan clubs
To dirty Poipet massage parlours
The lies I like to feed myself
Give no reasons and have no answer for
The dust, the shelves, the walls and jars

Yes

I nod
I see
I hear

The moonlight shifting
The piano playing

Through these rooms
Through these autumn trees

editors note:

No apology; apologia only. – mh clay

UNSTAMPED POSTCARD

featured in the poetry forum July 22, 2017  :: 0 comments

One
Split tan shoe
One
Ripped blue shirt
One
Patched green jacket
And some super glue

All of them
More than enough

For this Monday
For a month on Friday
For this ticket backwards

For never in
A million years
Will bones laugh back
Or skulls make cracks
About a lack of success

Like this bus
The wheels turn quicker
Ever quicker still

From there to here
And back again

Like this bottle
Like this tobacco

Like this unstamped postcard

editors note:

Destination the same. Wish you were here! – mh clay

ST GEORGE

featured in the poetry forum April 22, 2017  :: 0 comments

That’s just how it is
On any given day here

The bad backs for benefits
The psychotic breaks

Nobody cares
If you have just moved in
If someone has
Put a brick through your window
Or if you work on the bins

Tobacco
Drink
Drugs

That’s all that matters here

Pornos for girlfriends
Emergency loans for the fear

That someone is coming
At any time of the day

That rat-a-tat-tat
At the back of the brain

Like those pink pills
Those any pills
Sleeping tablets at noon
Always chewed never swallowed
Like the street by blue lights

On any night
Like last night
Coming down off bad speed

The fire engines, police cars
An ambulance for the stabbed

No, I said, officer, I didn’t live there
No, I said, officer, I didn’t know a thing

I’m sorry, I shrugged

That’s just how it is

editors note:

No quiet days in this neighborhood. (We’re doubling down with JH today; read another, tightly wound, on his page here.) – mh clay

EVER STILL EVER THEN

April 22, 2017  :: 0 comments

Breathe in
Tighter

Breathe out
Repeat

From A to B
Then back again

Violent
Deep
Irrational

Like that scaffold pole to my spine
Like that monkey wrench to my knees
Like that cold steel pressed to my head

Yes
I can break bottles
Punch walls and smash chairs

But it never stops
It never does

From riverside to corrupt border town
From Bangkok street to south London park
From Kowloon bar to Beijing cell
From public ward to crematorium

These shadows do not fade
They only sink down deeper
Into the cracks

Opened by the sustained and heavy blows
Widened by the grief, humiliation and shame

No
This infection does not heal
This memory will not cure

Like the noose and the taut rope that pulls

It just breathes in
Tighter

Ever tighter still

LADIES & GENTLEMEN

featured in the poetry forum February 23, 2017  :: 0 comments

Like dogs
We sit
And we wait

Like stations for buses
Like boards for announcements
Like pigeons for crumbs

As if the end’s going to change
As if it’s going to get better
As if we’re going to get wise

Like Buddha
Like Jesus
Like Muhammad Ali

Man
To say we’re the greatest
Means even less than our words

editors note:

Just keep waggin’ that tail… – mh clay