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

Rain swept and blurred

Neither here nor there

That is where I want to be

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

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


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

The piano
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


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

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?

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



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


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


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


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

Split tan shoe
Ripped blue shirt
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


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


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


April 22, 2017  :: 0 comments

Breathe in

Breathe out

From A to B
Then back again


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

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

This infection does not heal
This memory will not cure

Like the noose and the taut rope that pulls

It just breathes in

Ever tighter still


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

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

editors note:

Just keep waggin’ that tail… – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum November 26, 2016  :: 0 comments

I tried it once
And it wasn’t good

It just made me sweat
And think way too much

That old scratch
I can’t itch

That pretty wife
That I miss

I mean
If all these meat markets
Are cheap flip flops and shorts
Then what’s the point of the sun?


It’s all just –
Me, me, me
Ain’t it babe?

Praise the lord

This whisky
This beer

This tiny locked room
That stinks of dead flesh

You can dip it in chili
And soak it in garlic
But it’s still just a bad photograph

This hollow temple that we bow down inside
This family of blood that we scratch on the walls
This history of bones that we soothsay for signs

No man
I tried it once
And it wasn’t good

That sun oiled snake skin
Tastes like
Rooster, pig, rat

editors note:

When the cure is worse than the disease… – mh clay


November 9, 2012  :: 0 comments

Another day
another city

filled with
more people
more buildings
more cars
more madness

all glimpsed through the windows
of this spy’s grey hungover eyes

It could be
Moscow or Rome

It doesn’t matter at all

Everywhere is the same
when the Mind is lost
in this crowded mind –

yet dead
to all of these forms –

shaped by the light
of plastic perceptions
and stained by the smog
of an impulsive desire
to understand all of these things
which can never be understood

either today
or on any other day

in this phantom city
which neither exists nor does not exist

as it passes through me and I pass through it

editors note:

It’s one thing after another for a bee in the hive; a moment of self-awareness, swallowed up in the buzz. Om. – mh clay

Dirt & Dust

August 4, 2012  :: 0 comments

How beautiful this world is,
when you stop fighting fate
and embrace the dirt and dust.

The only imperfections in it,
are these thoughts – this consciousness.

editors note:

When from ashes comes this blink of life, live so our dust makes the dirt sing. Don’t give it another thought. – mh clay

If I Go before You Do

March 7, 2012  :: 0 comments

It is getting late,
time is pressing,
of that alone I am sure.
is an empty thing –
a lake into which
Narcissus likes to gaze.

What do you do these days?
Is it the same as me?
Rewind, reduce, erase?

Sometimes, I think
I would like
to talk to you about many things.
But when I consider them more carefully,
they become but one:
time, time and time alone –
the need to grasp at that
which can not be held,
the desire to understand
that which can not be understood.

It’s absurd isn’t it?
All these questions, answers, inquiries, replies?
The wish for meaning
is nothing but a hole in the ground.

My expectations. Dash. Zero.
My hopes. Dash. None at all.
If I go
before you do,
plant radishes for me.
I will plant cabbages for you.

editors note:

Aha! A vegetable version of “nothing ventured.” If nothing is all we get, then I’ll take radishes any day. Nirvana! – mh clay