featured in the poetry forum July 17, 2021  :: 0 comments

Lives collide, bump up against each other
in unusual ways. Like today, today I was
looking for Ernest Dowson’s poetry. Like
any good English major, I think of him in
terms of his most famous line about days
of wine and roses, one of those lines that
people in general remember but rarely go
beyond the movie to the poet who wrote
them, a young man who lived to be thirty-
two and is not read much anymore. My
father left me The Poems and Prose of
Ernest Dowson
, so when the urge hit to go
back over the poem, I had a source, a book
gathering dust in the family room bookcase.
When I opened it to look, I must admit I never
found the poem, I got distracted, a life bumped
into mine. In the book, acting as a bookmark
was a receipt for four grain raspberry, cookies
I guess, seventy-nine cents each, a total of
three sixteen. It was November 12, 2012 at
10:28 AM at the Ferrisburg Bakeshop in North
Ferrisburg, a quick stop I’m sure, something to
tide him over on yet another crowded day, used
a card so his name is there. There’s nothing odd
about all this – but why was this random receipt
in The Poems and Prose of Ernest Dowson, must
have been there for years, and why today with
me looking for days of wine and roses and finding
this small piece of someone else’s day?

editors note:

When the whys of our whats and whens wrest wonder. – mh clay

The Delay

featured in the poetry forum March 16, 2021  :: 0 comments

Delay, delayed are powerful words on their own.

They stop us in our tracks, sit us down, get us to
count the minutes sometimes, other times just
to play with our phones, look out the window to
see the weather for the first time today. Let’s say
our plane is delayed in Detroit, the announcement
slows down our day, gets us to start worrying about
connection, or just gets us to enjoy the alliteration
of our dilemma, delayed in Detroit. Unable to resist
you text your son, “dear Dan, damn, we’re delayed
in Detroit.” Delay is like that, a word that has its own
power, but might be hiding something stronger, like
postponed or terminated, and the people/person
saying delay are just holding off the inevitable, like
no planes will ever leave Detroit again, or American
Airlines has given up flying for some more productive
work. We delay, we are delayed, no one needs to
explain the word to us – we delay telling, we delay
admitting, we delay growing up, we’re delayed in our
quest for perfection, delayed in our delay. We’re
standing on the doorstep, delaying ringing the bell;
delay knocking, delay what we know is inevitable.

editors note:

The way to allay the angst in delay? Alliteration! – mh clay

This Investigation

featured in the poetry forum November 14, 2020  :: 0 comments

Let’s investigate this thoroughly, we can call in witnesses,
those few who were there, who saw what they saw, who
knew/know what was going on and waited till now to talk
about the things they saw, and then let’s call on experts to
walk us through the process, things they know and things
they can help us speculate about. It’s that time, a time of
reckoning, time to take stock, look for evidence, assemble
the data and anecdotal evidence, review the side issues, take
this bit and that, piece things together, the things that have
surfaced, become obvious in recent days. Let’s call together
the relevant committees and councils, call together forums
and neighborhood groupings, a special interest group, or two.
Let’s find answers, let’s find the questions we need to ask
them, to ask ourselves. Let’s consider the future, our children,
grandchildren, this strange bubble we live in, this cornfield
we’re walking through, this jigsaw puzzle we are putting
together, and calling home. Let’s cross this river, this inter-
section, this border now and ask why this keeps happening
and then start investigating this whole thing once more.

editors note:

Then we’ll know what we know until we don’t. – mh clay

Drug for This

featured in the poetry forum August 19, 2020  :: 0 comments

There must be a drug for this
You know, one that gets you
Up out of bed, stumbles you
Toward the medicine cabinet
To take another day’s worth,
First a capsule, then a tablet.
Then the day would begin to
Take shape, to take on color
Dimensions, it would take on
A perspective to unify all this.
There must be something I
Can take, you can take, just
The proper dose, of course.
Take it dry or with a slug of
Water, then wait a minute or
Two and the effects will kick
In, things will become clear
Once more, have a purpose
To appreciate, like a careful
Sonata, a well-turned sonnet,
Or a perfect sunset. There
Must be a drug for all of this,
These symptoms, this headache,
This aching, this pain. There
Must be a drug, there must be
A drug, something we could take
To make this all seem better.

editors note:

If there is, just say “Yes!” – mh clay

Plague Poem for Day Nineteen

featured in the poetry forum April 18, 2020  :: 0 comments

I never was a numbers man; they lost me back
in grade school, while I spent my time looking
out the window, wishing, hoping for something,
anything beyond, plus this, minus that, numbers
progressing across the board, the fractions and
decimal points, times this, divided by that, as I sat
daydreaming, daydreaming about what I could be,
would be outside the space allotted for learning
this hide and seek, the sleight of hand of numbers,
but now, all these years later, while daydreaming
remains, has become a necessity, the numbers have
come into their own, have become the measure of
my world: my age, my weight, my blood pressure
progress at alarming rates, and now public concerns
play out in numbers that are hard to understand, the stock
market pogoes up and down, gets its own sub-screen
on the news, while scientists call out projected death
tolls, a hundred thousand, two hundred, like auctioneers
standing in front of charts/graphs giving a visual proof
of what the numbers can do – finally telling us we’re not
in grade school anymore.

editors note:

I wonder if one of those numbers is mine and if it’s… up? – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum October 18, 2019  :: 0 comments

Shadows at first, blurred voices saying my name,
calling 911, an ambulance, I have fallen,
fallen out of the day, out of the familiar

into the world of blur and shadows, voices expecting
answers, I have none or few, my name, birth date,
the ambulance wants to know the day, the year,

the E.R. asks the same and what I was doing when
I fell; things try to sort themselves out, hook me up,
fluids in, out, blood pressure over and over, an electronic

this or that, my heart, the odd sounds it makes, they make
discussing me and what I have become, one of the fallen
who needs to be explained – it went on for hours, vague hours,

days in the hospital, in rehab, I became strange, living a gap,
a bad dream, a story someone else has written, telling of
fallen angels to this fallen beast, the broken machine
I became.

editors note:

Machinery malfunctions. So hard when you’re the machine – Oh, my! – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum August 6, 2018  :: 0 comments

Life gives us so few chances
To do this sort of thing, just
Think of the things, other ones
We missed the first time by
The things that weren’t on
Our list, but should have been
The places we could have gone
The people we missed, books
We should have read, the things
We should have said, the moments
We missed, skipped over as if
We could get here now and
Make a list of the items to do
Next time around, as if things
Were left to the better me,
The corrective angel to set right.

editors note:

Yes, an auto-correct for life. Is there an app for that? – mh clay

Waiting for the poems

featured in the poetry forum December 9, 2017  :: 0 comments

I’d love to imagine it’s like
inventing some new gadget
something streamlined and
bursting with possibilities,
or coming across the cure
for something that plagues
humanity with rashes and
blockages, or it’s like giving
birth in some way to bits of
me, bawling brawling brats
of me, spitting images and
metaphors into the wise eye
of tomorrow, or it’s like
an explorer, a lost traveler
uncovering a valley where
no one has ever been and
returned to say, the maps
got it wrong, come with me,
or then again maybe it’s like
playing some childish game
again, like at hide and seek,
or kick the can and it’s getting
so dark I finally realize I’m
alone in all this, or perhaps
it’s like I’m playing tag alone
in a blizzard, drawing with
my eyes closed, or singing
a song that has no words,
nor melody till I sing it.

editors note:

Yup, it’s maybe like that… just sing in your own key. – mh clay

Over Here

featured in the poetry forum August 12, 2017  :: 0 comments

Over here in the breakdown lane we
Know vulnerability, the weaknesses
Of man and machine, of flat tires and
Erupting radiators, dead engines and
Empty tanks, we know being passed by
Watching the passersby speed by, feel
Their vibration and tug, over here, we
Know a loneliness reserved for the road
Become the person they identify with,
The very person they never want to be.
This must be analogous to graver things
The dark night of the soul, the pink slip
At work, the rejection slip in the mail,
The final divorce papers, that phone call
The frightening lab results, the dreaded
Diagnosis; in some ways we are all over
Here in the breakdown lane, leaning on
Our cars, phones to our ears, trying to get
Someone, someone to notice us and help.

editors note:

Someone? Anyone… Hello? – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum June 17, 2016  :: 0 comments

Some were born clever.
You know them –
those upright, dripping
quipping monsters
who can drag
whole rural territories,
forgotten capital cities,
hamlets full of hapless
Hamlets behind them
in their wake.

And their breath smells of
confidence and confusion.
Their stare trembles hearts
but lasts less than
we were promised.
Their intentions are clear
but only in retrospect.
Their promises are always kept.

Their latest pictures appear
with those blurry figures
standing behind them,
figures we recall from
childhood, figures who
kept us up most of the night
praying they would go away
and leave us to the simple pleasure
of just being left alone.

editors note:

Yes! Follow your own lead. – mh clay