A COVID Kinda Christmas

featured in the poetry forum December 24, 2020  :: 0 comments

Tis the night before Christmas,
When all across this land
A pandemic is raging
Foiling Yuletide plans.

We, in our face masks,
Nestling six feet apart.
While silently praying
This cough ain’t the start.

The stockings were hung
With sanitized care.
In case we’re infected,
That guilt we can’t bear.

Presents sit sterilized
Under fake plastic tree.
Medical-grade cellophane,
Insured COVID-free!

Hand sanitizers, face masks,
White latex gloves…
Gifted with care
For good health & for love.

The cookies & milk?
Nope, not this year.
One sneeze or sniffle
Brings irrational fear!

When what did we hear,
It brought such a shudder!
The sounds of St. Nick
It could be none other!

By the chimney we waited
But he broke down the door
As he pounced he announced,
“Santa’s merry no more!”

“Give me some meds! (cough)
Some cookies! A beer! (cough)
It’s 2020 for me too
And it’s been quite a year!”

The Fat Man kept coughing
His sickness was fast
We panicked & hid
Behind plexiglass.

The North Pole, it seems
Isn’t nearly as woke.
Santa’s unmasked?
This must be a joke!

“Santa, we’d love to have ya
But onward you must fly.
The gift that you’re giving
Just might make us die”

Coughing & sneezing
& blowing his elf nose,
He saw our fear, grabbed his gear
And left us exposed

When in his sleigh he proclaimed,
Before he swerved outta sight,
“COVID Christmas to all (cough-cough)
and to all a (cough) night!”

editors note:

Don we now our hazmat onesies, Fa la la la la la la la la… – mh clay

Desolation screams

featured in the poetry forum June 7, 2020  :: 0 comments

Desolation screams
Deprivation breeds.
Division leads these
Narrated nightly newsfeeds
Crawling across our TV screens.
Oppressed needs cryin’…

(I can’t breathe)

Treasonous thieves think
Formations of needs please
Corporations’ greeds.
Politicians seek
Division. Feeds these
Agitated seeds moanin’…

(I can’t breathe)

Nation bleeds. Another
Generation squeezed by
Deflated daydreams. Leaves no
Reasons to believe.
Destruction speaks louder than
Asphyxiated pleadings…

(I can’t breathe)

Condemned seeds feeds
Inflated streets.
Suppression leads to
Foundations’ weaknesses.
Revolutions brink with
One voice screamin’…

I! Can’t! Breathe!

One voice speaks…

I can’t breathe.

One voice pleads…

(I can’t breathe)

editors note:

If you CAN (breathe), speak! – mh clay

Johnny Never Came Marching Home Again…

May 23, 2020  :: 1 comment

(view the YouTube video here)

But he did return.

He arrived in a box with a star spangled​
and blood striped flag, draped with care.

When Johnny didn’t come marching home again (so long, so long)
They gave him a funeral welcome then (so long, so long)…

​A warrior’s funeral.​
​Complete with a 21 gun salute,
​a lonesome rendition of ​
Taps, and a
​finely folded​
consolation flag.
The same flag that came draped on Johnny’s ​coffin.

The boys held back tears, the men stood tall,
The ladies, one by one they called​…​

They mentioned Johnny’s name on the news.
They remembered his life and honored his memory.
They said they would always remember their hometown hero.
They all felt the loss

when Johnny didn’t come marching home.

Johnny didn’t enlist to be a cog in the great war machine.
​But he knew the ultimate price
​might have to be paid
when he raised his right hand and said:

“I, Johnny Citizen, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

When his Country called, he did his duty.
With a lump in his throat and with pride on his side,
Johnny went off to ​fight.

Let reverence and remembrance reign this day (so long, so long)
Remember the ultimate sacrifices made (so long, so long)…​

He prayed.
He prayed every day he awoke alive,
and doubly so at night,
to live to fight another day​, so help him God.

God was there on Johnny’s lips as he took his final breaths.
​So were the fading memories of home.
So were mom and dad.
So were brother and sister.
So were friends and lovers.

And so was this final scene –

​A warrior’s funeral.​
​Complete with a 21 gun salute,
​a lonesome rendition of ​
Taps, and a
​finely folded​
consolation flag.

This is what Johnny saw as he looked up
at foreign skies.

He never asked why.
He knew this was his time.
​He knew this was his duty.
Johnny said his last prayer
and his final goodbyes.
​No fanfare, no fame.
Just another life given,
a sacrifice made
in ​this deadly game
named ​

So may we do our patriotic part (so long, so long)
Be grateful and thankful for this warrior’s heart (so long, so long)…

And remember the meaning of this day,

When all the Johnny’s didn’t come marching home.

editors note:

Because this is worth reading on this Day…
Here’s to the day when no new boxes come home, no new flags are draped and folded, no new tears are wrenched from newly aching hearts. Thanks to Johnny O for these Memorial words! May we learn, at last, to practice war no more. –
mh clay

Breathe deep…

featured in the poetry forum April 11, 2020  :: 0 comments

Breathe deep…
Hold it –

You held
On long

To last.
Our final

Waits inside
Face masks.

Let go
Cling to


editors note:

We know when’s the next one, but never the last. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum December 25, 2019  :: 0 comments

Lap sat
Chicago cold
Photo snapped
Seven years old

Catalogs scanned
Wishlist made
Playtime planned
Cookies laid

Christmas scenes
Slept light
Vision-filled dreams
Woke bright

Parents late
Childhood cost
Santa’s fate
Innocence lost

editors note:

Oh, Well! When the truth is out and the spell is broke, we conjure a different holiday joke. Or… don’t forget to eat those cookies. Jingle Bells, Everyone! – mh clay

Giving of thanks.

November 28, 2019  :: 0 comments

That’s the true spirit of this day and one I strive to maintain and attempt to attain day-by-day. I truly try to freely give a sincere attitude of gratitude at every predawn morn I’m blessed to receive. I pray it, every day, knowing that everything I have, have had and will have is gifted and never a given.

The cognizance of blessings alone begets holier appreciations of what I do have. I know that someday I may not have all that I do. I may have more. I may have less. But right here, right now I have everything I need and daily I pray for and give thanks for…

A roof over my head to keep the heat in & my head dry on cold & damp gray days, to keep me cool and chilled on hot & humid summer days, sheltered and secured always.

These clothes that cover my mortal flesh & bones, sometimes fashionable, most time not, but what I got is usually sensible, always practical, definitely comfortable.

The food on my table to sustain the life force swirling in me and our fellow man that gives us animation, free will, and divine imaginations.

The labors we trade to get paid so that we can afford these aforementioned hierarchical necessities needed to live another hour, day, month, year.

A deep love in my heart for this precious gift called life and deep reverence for all who have come and gone & for those here and now, the nearest and cherished loved ones coloring my world thru these many moons so fine & divinely.

This deep-seated peace in my soul, my hearth, a source of retreat, of meditation, of experience, of expression.

I pray every day for these precious things to hopefully guarantee I do not take them for granted.

I pray knowing that even if it’s just me listening in, the reverence I have for these everyday blessings will always bring a deep-seated appreciation of these spiritual, material, creative, monetary & wellness prosperities.

I pray, with all my might to say the two simple words that, when sincerely paired, carry so much meaning and emotion:


Deep Thoughts

featured in the poetry forum April 6, 2019  :: 0 comments
I love my neck of the hood but it’s rabidly rapidly changing and I’m not quite hip to the kinda hip that it’s shifting to. This once nitty-gritty part of the city is getting to be a bit too bourgeois for a regular joe like moi.
The ragged edge that attracted this Chi-town boy to her all those years ago is getting dulled down by the day. I walk her Deep streets seeking to breathe in her underbelly culture that once seduced my senses. Sadly I see her getting yuppified. Her storefront lined streets dating back to the freedman ages, filled with blues tunes booming down Elm, bustling with tattooed bohos, blues tunes dudes, pounding punks rocking, mad multi-colored mohawks moshing, head banging metal heads, rollers free falling head first into dive bars, flying out feeling ecstatically free.
Fast forward a handful of years and fat cat West Coast investors are pimping to corporate cookie cutter businesses, overpriced designer bars, boutiques and flashy fine-dining establishments, stealing away the local loco flavor outta this neck of the hood, replacing it with cheapened uptown-vibed hipster hell.
High-rises are starting to block the downtown skyline and more are in store. Monstrosities reaching a dozen stories or more, filled with $50,000 millionaires who came to the deepest of Ellum to feel like they’re part of this once edged scene. They came in waves and dulled down that edge and slowly but surely are choking out the roughened culture that once thrived on this side of town.
I sit on my stoop, thinking my Deep thoughts, wondering when they’ll come knocking on (or down) my door…
editors note:

When they (who? why?) are trying to erase your sense of place… – mh clay

On this day…

featured in the poetry forum November 22, 2018  :: 0 comments

On this day we give thanks. The origins and the traditions do not matter so much to me as does the attitude of gratitude. Yester tales of olden day feasts contrasted by modern day pigskin games and black Friday freaks are not what this day is about (to me).

On this day we reflect upon the blessings we’ve been blessed to have received. These can range from the bare necessities of shelter and sustenance, to extracurricular extravagances that an abundant life allows.

On this day we freely tell others what’s flowing deeply in our hearts, of the gratitude we feel for the love given and the love received. Our happy hearts are hard to hide today.

On this day we feel the direct connect to our kindred spirits in this collective community of hearts and souls who also walk this same orb, who also breath this same air, who also see these same scenes, and who also dream these same dreams of peace, of love, of unity.

On this day I wish, as I do every Thanksgiving day. I wish that every day was designated as a day of giving thanks and not just today. But either way, at least we got one day, and for that, I give thanks…

…on this day.

editors note: With some said more, and others too much; here’s one we can’t say enough. Thanks! – mh clay

Below the Summit

featured in the poetry forum September 11, 2018  :: 0 comments

Half staffed flags used to be a rarity but sadly, not so much these days in this here land I so love.

I’m from the X’d generation that was born into believing that we were the best nation in the world but swiftly learned soon after, from perpetual disillusionments, the disappointing lesson that no, we are not.

We’re just the cracked & shedded skin of the glorious U S of A that we used to be.

These days “we the people” of these “united” States are quite divided between:

Left and right…
Brown and Black and White…
Dems and Reps…
Libs & Tea Partiers…
Haves and the eternal have nots…
Scientists and religious zealots…
Gun-toters and gun controllers…
Me too’s and their #’d accused…
Baby boomer gloom’s and millennial’s baby shoe blues…

We once stood united in our dividedness but the state of our current union is slipping below the summit and our half staffed flags are living proof that we are on our deathbed. Every day our symptoms get worse. Daily headline news crawls report on the condition this Nation is in. Each beat we get closer to the throes of death.

What this time has warranted this visual symbol of 1) respect 2) mourning 3) distress? Was it yet another sad school shooting? or a man-made and/or mother nature disaster? or a mass killing? or a domestic terrorist attack? or some dignitary death?…

I shake my head in disbelief at the immense grief and grave danger our country is on the precipice of experiencing. We are in the lousy care of loud-meowed fat cats who sit back, cleaning their teeth, readying themselves for the feast they are about to receive. These fat cat vs. mouse games they play, the battles they wage, these are the Wars that sit ominously on our horizon:

Race Wars;
Economy Wars;
Class Wars;
Environmental Wars;
Terrorist Wars;
Immigration Wars;
Technology Wars;
Second Amendment Wars;
World War Wars

… the list could go on if I wasn’t so mad and saddened by what I see. Sadly, this is our reality.

So now, when I see the all-too-common half-staffed flag, I think to myself – this display is not for anything specific but a general statement about the state of this dying divided union.

The red white and blue’s stunted ascent halfway up the pole shows how this once great nation of ours is on life-support, quickly dying and the half-staffed flag is in mourning for what we the people were and what that sickly Stars and Stripes once stood for.

Epilogue: I woke up today to see the flags once again blowing freely in the breezes, the sun rays kissing the withered edges, a lone bird perched proudly upon the mast and a feeling creeped in, awakening in me again a sense of hope and never dying pride for this land, OUR land, of the free.

editors note:

Consider this. Choose hope… (Thanks to our Ed-in-Chief for his honest expose.) – mh clay

The Fact Is…

December 24, 2017  :: 0 comments

…you are a Vet for Life.

You raised your right hand and took the sacred oath of enlistment to defend the Constitution of the United States.

Your reasons for enlistment are as diverse as your ranks. Some enlisted for educational benefits. Some for monies to raise a family. Some were drafted. All served because of a sense of duty to our great Nation.

Some are city slickers. Others are country boys. Some hailed from Texas and Illinois, California and New York, and…

The fact is, you came from all over this great Nation of ours to serve.

Some were called to fight, eye-witnessing the horrors and destructions of war.

Some served in peacetime, maintaining the liberties most take for granted.

The fact is, you all served. You were ready, able and willing to put your lives down for God, for Country, for us.

Some did 4 year tours. Some 6… 8… 12… and a few went all the way to retirement.

Some went on to became teachers, designers, technicians, engineers, mechanics, electricians, truck drivers, public servants…

The fact is, wherever you went and whatever profession you chose, you carried with you the pride and legacy of being a Veteran.

You stood out from the crowd. Maybe it was the way you walked and talked that gave you away. Or perhaps a tattoo sporting your branch gave a clue.

More than likely it was the way you conducted yourself with discipline, with military bearing, with initiative. You have been instilled with Honor, with Courage, with Commitment.

The fact is, you ARE a different breed.

You ARE warriors.

You were, ARE and always will be Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsman.

The fact is, you are a Vet for Life!

You know the kinship of brotherhood/sisterhood.

You understand what camaraderie and esprit de corps are all about.

The fact is, you were THERE and you did do THAT.

Although some may not be as lean, mean or green as we you were in your glory days, you are a Veteran, still true to our great Nation, and always, always faithful.

The fact is, your ranks are as diverse as the Country you served.

The fact is, when you hear the opening lines, “Oh say can you see…”, you stand at attention, feeling a sense of tremendous pride, knowing that you and your Brothers and Sisters in arms did your part in serving the United States of America.

The fact is…

editors note:

I work for the Exchange (aka AAFES). We recently welcomed home all honorably discharged Veterans back to their military family thru the new online shopping benefit.

As part of our efforts to get the word out to a great Nation filled to the gills with my fellow Veterans, the Exchange became a sponsor of ESPN’s Armed Forces Bowl. One of the perks of this sponsorship is that we have not one, but TWO commercial spots that will air on national TV during the game. This will be the first time the Exchange will be showing national ads!

As we were coming up with concepts for these historic adverts, my boss asked if I had any poetic copy I could write for one of the spots. Of course, I enthusiastically said “YES!” Not only did the powers-that-be like my poetic copy, they also liked my voice-over work and decided to use both in both ads and the fact is… the rest is history! – jo