The Cafe

featured in the poetry forum January 24, 2013  :: 0 comments

To Nick and Dave at 381

Each morning I make my way
To this familiar place:
This refuge from the world
Located inside a public place.
I sit in the corner day after day
Taking in the atmosphere;
Surveying the faces of other regulars,
I see in each storm-swept impression,
That lingers on the surface of each face
Before it quietly slips away,
Ripples of meaning, moving outwards
Towards an imagined centre.

Under a grey tent of cloud
I sit here allowing my mind to wander
Over past understandings;
A flawed memory looks backwards
To make sense of the past.

In this place for fugitives
All are dispossessed
Running from a scorching world;
In here life is safely captured
In the reflections of a mirrored wall.
An outside sends us out of ourselves,
Eye meets eye,
Torn apart by contradiction
We are thrown into a sifting world.

Glancing over to the side of the room
I find myself lost
To reflections sent by another.
In the space of a glance
We explore a place between inner and outer.
These perceptions mould our world
Forming a dispersed self
That must find sense in this fragmented world;
Reflections formed by reflections,
We move between understanding and understanding,
Always with a vague sense
That things could be otherwise.

editors note:

Anonymous observers, mirror opposite mirror, infinite reflection of everyone else. – mh clay

The City

featured in the poetry forum November 30, 2011  :: 0 comments

This day slips away
into darkness it falls
the back streets are my home
on the edges at the boundaries

I sit drinking coffee
wondering about other days;
this city has taught me
we are all fools in its grand masquerade;

Each street is marked out in shadows
no one sleeps, the darkness lingers
savage and silent
waiting, waiting…

In blue balance the darkness gathers
as evening crowds and shrouds this place.
Street lights dim and white
keep the darkness firmly in check;
while a neon cross flashes a bill board salvation.

In this mechanical clock work
each day falls away;
the darkness gathers,
dark blue turns to black.
While in the back street shadows chase the light
wishing to consume it;
In the shadows they linger chasing.

Here we are shadows scotched by the light that casts us into darkness;
shadows we linger on this thin line;
empty figments of the imagination we are but shadows;
shadows cast by the light;

In the back streets shifting shadows change
and in a moment fade
in this mad dash into night.

This city has taught me to dream;
it changes, it fades and then it lives again with the day.
Everything must change in this dusty masquerade
and if we are to live as we should
we change with it as we fade into the night.

editors note:

Now the butterfly dreams he is a man, exchanging nectar for coffee; brightly colored wings for transitory shadows. Quickly, lay those eggs before you die! – mh clay

This is not a Love Poem

November 30, 2011  :: 0 comments

I remember delicate embraces;
how I held you in my arms,
hoping you may learn to trust me;
how tenderness is mixed with pain.

I remember secrets exchanged
as we laid in bed;
your gentle strokes upon my forehead;
shared laughter; your shimmering eyes.

I remember your silky hair
against the white pillow;
how in soft candle-light
amongst gentle murmurs
for one brief moment eternity was touched.

This is not a love poem,
it is just a backward glance
at how for a time there was no time
only those cheating intimacies
that finally betrayed us.

The 20th

March 20, 2011  :: 0 comments

and so once again the 20th of the month is here.
the days all crowd in
then fall away
time moves swiftly each day, each hour, each minute brings me to my death
and to you.

Some times I long so,
not for the past so much though that is part of it;

I long for what can never be.

I cannot go back, the past is gone now
lost in time.
So then what of the future?

We come from darkness so we must return to it:
there is only the present;
this solitary moment that hangs between a long lost past
and a yet to be future.

Just one single moment is all that is left now.

The days still fall withered and worn;
each morning
I wake to greet your face
you remind me the moment must be lived, grasped firmly now;
for though I may hanker for another time
it will not wait for me in its dash to be gone.

Though in so many ways you are still with me
in a moment of knowing: the scent of flowers, a cool breeze, a song;
that tender flow of feeling calm and strong.

This temple of words I erect in your honor;
for you have given me the words
to heal my sorrowed heart

when the night was darkest and all hope seemed to be lost
you were there with me, guiding me.

Without your love
I would be lost to this world:
a part of me died and was buried with you
a part of you still lives with me
you are my center, the still point of my life.

In the quiet of autumn time in the evening
as the sun is fading behind the horizon
I think of you;
heart to heart, my love goes with you,
your love stays here with me

a mirror that magnifies
this is all that really matters now
there is nothing else left now.

The spider Goddess weaves her web
and so our hearts become entangled
in that place of stillness and calm.

Each tear drop may fall, each beat of the heart may thump
but in the silence between the stars,
the silence between the thump of each heart beat or the fall of one tear drop,
in that silence there I find you.

The 22 of January, 2011

January 24, 2011  :: 0 comments

for Debbie

Another year has turned and almost another month
this year 2011;
Our lives turn to bony ash,
we all must wear a mask.

The sun sets on a humid Sydney day,
I sit here still wondering, searching for what I am not sure;
except that I know what is true endures.

I also know how grief can twist the mind so that it turns in upon itself,
it crumbles and you see only
what you want it to see.

I feel your are still with me,
you are my only Muse;
You died 6 years 7 months ago
yet I know you are still with me,
and guide me
my light in a dark place,
my only Muse,
my heart tells me so.

An Atheist Facing Death

June 10, 2010  :: 0 comments

Shadows running from the scorching light
the world a lantern parade
we can only run in circles;
staying still
we evade the light

I long to express the intangible;
the unborn, the unmade, unsaid.
To form my heart into a womb
for the unborn;
a still point that transcends the space that enfolds it.

The whispers I wish to hear are yet to have been spoken, are silent,
beyond substance.
Such ecstatic sighs ? that remain just out of reach lingering in the wind,
howling screams unimagined, uncreated.

I hunger for the inexpressible;
to craft this silence into words.
To glimpse through the bars of this prison cell.
To speak the illusive and inexpressible.
To pin down these inner silences
That tear so at my being;
Locked in silence
Each of us must hold
This loneliness to our chest.

So I write, and my poised heart cries out,
as it strokes vague longings
intangible resolutions
that move through my experience of succession.
I look for another way
to hold reason and passion in tension.

To an outside that is beyond my grasp,
this outside that is inside me.
Inarticulate it moves beyond my grasp;
remaining beyond me;
Sitting outside me
There in the world
That beats inside my chest.

Unresolved contradictions crowd in upon me
as I look towards a dark horizon
where shadows juxtapose dissimilar images
erasing the known.

These images intertwine into frightening shapes
forming reflections that are not one but many;
tearing myself from myself
I know this pale future laughs at my futile attempts
To avoid knowledge too painful to face.

Searching the world for beautiful metaphors will always be a self-depleting process;
What I find there is only insubstantial shadows;
Words and images
merely a woolly rug to place around the self;
something to protect against a cold unbearable contingency.

Though is it because I search only for the how of? things?
Should I simply take delight in existence;
that something exists instead of nothing;
that the World is?
Love is the mystical made manifest.

And it is true at night in the darkness
under star light, and delicate moonlight
there are certainties;
encircling arms, embracing touch, the warmth of breath;

Autumn Leaves

June 10, 2010  :: 0 comments

Brown leaves drift? in the wind,
it is autumn again.
We met in the spring and spent that autumn together
never knowing how precious each falling leaf, which with the? days drifted away.
We met in the spring, you died in winter
when the Magnolias were blooming so,
six years ago.
We were together then, now you are gone from me, though you linger in the wind.
Your flame still burns brightly
for it is protected from the wind.

And so I return once again to you, in seeking you
I find myself again,? in this fading dusty world;
Your flame burns brightly also, I remember fleeting looks
how we both skived around some things,
we both knew but did not want to know.
The years have not faded my love
and so I return to you, I seek you
and there I find myself.
Debbie I love you so.

Only the lost dare to dream, so time has faded my memory
still the dream lives on;
We knew though we never knew;
we saw through a glass darkly.
We were not blind;
perhaps we stumbled
but? a part of us both knew.
I know at end you thought of leaving,
by the things you left behind,
some hidden from yourself,
but it was you who showed me where to look
though you were buried weeks ago.

Everything falls away from us, not just the days.
We watch? ourselves decay? and age;
here everything slips away from us;
those we love and cherish are taken from us,
and we know not where they go.

We are left to hide in the shadows
and linger and wonder and dream.
In another spring time that is nowhere,
in another spring time when the sun is high
and we no longer need to run from its sustaining light.

Then how dreams seemed possible, just on the horizon.
The cruel wind blows hard; it blows our dreams away,
like dried leaves they swirl and whisper in the wind.
Long ago when the sun was brighter,
All things crumble and decay, we all do too.
Our dreams drive us on?
as we dash and hide from the sun.

The Gobi Desert

June 10, 2010  :: 0 comments

Staining the horizon, they come,
dancing hunters marked by harsh desert night;
the horsemen come galloping,
defining the deep silence;
with their stammer and canter;
Iron hooves caress frozen rocks and sand;
Predatory shadows armored by scale and leather,
they ride upon nimble feet;

a torrent tormenting the silence,
they clatter, shatter, in a tangle of flesh and iron,
chasing the cold wind? across rocks and sand,
the horsemen come, riding down through the centuries.

In a fury of crushing iron
they spread panic into the heart of Europe;
Armed with bow and arrow,
each one sits astride his galloping horse;
they take aim, draw back the bow,
and in a flash transform the day.

Elsewhere a golden eagle soars through the cloud,
the man waits patently astride his horse for the eagle,
to take the prey down,
in its majesty, this female bird of prey can not be cowed
yet the man knows she will return to him,
as a man always returns to a women.

In this rocky desert survival hangs by a thin thread,
two predators have formed a pact,
based on trust
but nothing as emotional or abstract
as love,
just the desire to live, to hunt, to survive.

The reportorial bird has found its prey,
it swoops and the wolf has no where to hide
and is soon held tightly;
the wolf looks into her eyes
and knows death has found him;
the man approaches, the wolf dies quickly.

His eyes search the vast expanse of sky,
a glimpse of shadow on the horizon, the first sign
that this bird of prey returns to him,
after years,
she returns from her mating,
though she must go back to the call, the wilderness, the rocks, the hunt.
Tonight, they both together will dine.

In this vastness of contrasting color,
rock, grassland, merging mountains,
a simmering oasis sparkles with sunlight.
Bordered by the Altai mountains, the grasslands,
the prairies of Mongolia, the Tibetan plateau,
and the north China plains,
this rainbow desert sits at the top of the world.

A dry place of rock and sand,
where the snow leopard hunts,
the golden eagle stretches it wings
to touch the stars,
the Gobi bear lives walks its peaks,
along with the gray wolf,
this place of predator, silence,
rock and sand, its vastness.

This place of eons, and towns
those seeking silk had to pass through;
cold and icy, a place of contrasting color
that changes with the night, in star light,
the silence.
Here man feels his smallness
compared to this sand, the rocks and mountains.

They huddle against the coldness of the night,
this thin skin of animal skin,
of? tent and dreams,
is all that separates them from the freezing stars.
In a circle these round houses sit in this vastness.
In this thin skin
they sing their dreams,
cuddled together against the cold freezing night;
they sing of ? glory, past years.
The days of old.

Genghis Khan;
one man who made the? world shiver,
in bringing many tribes into one.
He made the knees of Europe tremble and knock,
when the many became strong;
the stars were not distant then.
The old men sit and sing
their song in this thin skin

How the Golden eagle returns to? the man.
they sing of life, of death.
In this thin skin the struggle
goes on; children, future hunters,
all sit huddled against the cold.

In this thin skin they sing
their dreams,
cuddled against the cold freezing night,
they sing of ? glory, past years.
The old men sit and sing
their song in this thin skin

the darkness is broken only by the freezing stars,
the vastness of space.

In this bleak place
full of the trickle of distant suns
struggling against the vast night.

On Bret Whitley’s Self-Portrait in the Studio 1976

March 19, 2010  :: 0 comments

Self gazing into an oval glass
This life scarred face
Proclaims the strain of trying
To catch each dashing moment
Resolving itself into here and now.

In this space the gaunt body of reason is alien;
It will never understand this catharsis
That attempts to ensnare the fleeting moment:
This metamorphosis
That traces vanishing apparitions,
In an attempt to reach beyond bare facts
Towards an incandescent blue presence
That lashes all conceptions of unity.

The face in the looking glass
Is marked by snake infested hair:
The creator becomes a monster
Searching experience
As the self consumes itself
Exploring subterranean spaces

Sculptured bony blue nude hints
Of an experience of liberation.
It reaches past the drizzle of hindsight;
The hope of canceling confusion
In a radiance that moves beyond images
That grasps other mythologies.

The nude’s pregnant tones whisper of elusive moments.
A strangeness only the blood can sense;
For in its evasive flow
The blood knows inarticulate groans
Can not be fixed
Within the picture-frame of definition.
This ecstatic freedom glances into the mirror
To find other traces
Another unexpected genealogy.

In these moments of purity
Objects become inexhaustible:
Liquid outlines form
Ripples of celebration.

These glimpses see the credible take flight
While images exhumed
From the depths are regarded
With a slow deliberation
Before being lost to the intricate
Double deception of art’s mirrored maze.

Eros to Psyche

March 19, 2010  :: 0 comments

Psyche my other self
I stumbled
pricked by my own arrow.

Psyche your beauty

exceeds the stars
such beauty stunned me,

and I fell.

Psyche with dawn
I must leave you

seek me not or my face look upon.

Psyche, you held

the lamp high.
You betrayed me.
In shocked delight at? the sight
you fell and pricked your self.
You betrayed love,
as all lovers must do.
Now I must leave you.

Psyche your audacious beauty
made Aphrodite jealous.
I was sent to bring punishment upon you.
I stumbled and fell,

pricked by my own arrow.

Psyche you listened to them,
Now a darkness separates us.
The lamp you held high,
so you in frightening

solitude must? go,

You have betrayed love,
as all lovers must.
Look to the ants, the bees, the water-reeds
and find yourself, me,
in the darkness.


Mistrust and suspicion

come between us.
I gave you myself,?

only my face
I asked you not to see.

I did not ask for much.
You have betrayed me
as all lovers must.
Now my nostalgic heart

must depart from you.
Look for yourself, me,

in the darkness.

In the darkness,

look and bring back
one pot of Persephone’s beauty cream.
look for your self, for me,
In the darkness,


Is love not a darkness,

that takes the self from the self?
you have betrayed love
as all lovers must.

Look for yourself, me,

in the darkness that is love,
and you shall find me
once again in truth and love,

When all hope has gone,

look for yourself, me,
in the darkness and find me.
When you have given up on love,
look into the void and find yourself, me.

Love betrays us all,
or do? we betray love?
your beauty is the sun
to me.

Is love not a darkness,
We surrender to love
and lose ourselves to each other.
such darkness is binding,
We open our eyes to find self
and it is gone.
I must leave you now,