The Zen of Stone and Water

featured in the poetry forum May 29, 2021  :: 2 comments

To be a boulder
a stream’s mountain
the sound deposit of
a glacier its old-earth
burnt yellow polished by
the cold flow of water
it splits.

But you are a stone
tumbling in a cataract’s
brown-white churn small
if settled in the palm pitted
by the grit of angry water.

Looking skyward you see
the deft yielding of
willow wands so too
you will skim the whiplash froth
as if a dragonfly weightless
on summer’s heat no
resistance you will not be
a thing of shards.

editors note:

Shrug shatter into shard and skim instead. Om! – mh clay

The Curse of Heroes

featured in the poetry forum January 12, 2021  :: 0 comments

I know you
you’ve been seen around these parts before
son of Apollo or Zeus you’re turned-out
tumbling down from that blue gold vault
your celestine eyes blond flecks glinting they
flash like a coquette’s fan.

You are the stuff of odysseys and agonies
riven in quarters from that casting out
you are wounded and watched and wanted and legends
are the quarry of your ambition to prove your exile
unjust this makes you dangerous a lionized hazard
your vulnerability a siren’s come hither a lure and you
lorn and cocked you will surely shipwreck
gorgeously spent on this tragedy.

editors note:

Pedestals are half price this year. Better invest in mirrors, instead. – mh clay

Here Comes the Stiff

featured in the poetry forum April 5, 2020  :: 0 comments

Old age trails you looking like
a Day of the Dead figure but without
the guitarras and bolo ties and high spirits so
maybe he’s just a workaday skeleton.
Always 10 paces back, all about the morbid,
a clacking gumshoe, the sun shining through his ribs
like a set of Venetian blinds.

He’s all ‘bony Tony’, isn’t he just a riot? you titter,
ducking into alleyways and hedges like Scooby Do
when you see him and he sees you see him but
make no mistake: he’s got a list and you’re on it and you know it.
He’s as pitiless as a bounty hunter.

Can’t ditch him, there’s no discouraging him,
and his timing is impeccable—someday soon
he’ll crook at you a spooky finger
all ashen and disarticulated so
get as bucky as you like but
those bones don’t lie.

editors note:

We can always duck, but we can’t defer; he’ll swing when he swings. – mh clay

On Becoming a Specter

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

A plain’s homestead, Depression’s own
splintery gray like driftwood
washed up on this prairie of tall grass,
corn yellow and wind dented.

This house husk of whistling slats
and many wrenchings molders
a baby’s bed and a browning
stove of metastasizing rust
and a flour sack curtain blanched
thin and cloud-white from
an overmuscled sun.

A scarecrow’s bones have I
throwing a stick silhouette against
this shambled phantasm as we two
melt into smudgy clots
of the darkening night.

editors note:

In the ghost of place, we are the haunting. – mh clay

After the Fall

featured in the poetry forum April 27, 2018  :: 0 comments

Nimble like a tumbler, like Fred Astaire
you skim ponds in winter climb air
like a mythic warrior you make fleet
your bitch so in repose, rare for you,
you tip your hat in acknowledgement
as your eyes silver with mercury like
rivers in the sun, unstill and bright.

Then offense somehow taken comes
a hard shower from a god’s angry summit
thunder clubs you to a stagger and you are
shocky and jerky sure footed no more
but to pitch and stammer in
still air on even ground.

Now you push a peddler’s cart
on coarse ruts to humble villages of
want and huddle so with your
little carillon tinny and clinking
they come to buy your wares,
handy and redemptive.

editors note:

Store up treasure; fall down to sell out. – mh clay

My Uncle has Alzheimer’s

featured in the poetry forum April 11, 2017  :: 0 comments

Inside your head’s a Dalí painting
birds fly backwards fire puts out water
you remember what you didn’t hear you
feel your way in a funhouse you’re about
as scrambled as a three egg omelet
on acid with ketchup.

Talking to you is like tuning
a cheap radio you’re all buzz and break up
you’re broadcast from Mars it’s
bad reception. Like your sister and brother
before you three blind mice see how they run
on and on and right over the cliff.

And all of a sudden right out of
the Superfund site that’s your head like a
vision of Mary levitating over a bayou
just out of reach of the snapping gators and
swamp gas and you remember
Greenwich Village in ‘59 as clear
as the light from God’s forehead
on resurrection day and my heart gasps
a little leaving behind a small and purple
bruise but it’s there for sure.

editors note:

Recall, not total, but pinpoint specific. Take the bruises. (We welcome James to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

To Shoot Up with Regrets

featured in the poetry forum December 7, 2016  :: 0 comments

Songbirds start forming circles
in a roughening sky there’s trouble ahead
dust devils careen and clone
gritty, pitting, stinging in their spin
a mange-ing cat wet hisses at a
far off siren and something’s on its way.

A bony doorman invites me
into a brothel he has no teeth and smells
of damp onions air static as a bell jar’s holds
sexual squeaks and bathroom sounds in
a soupy suspension and nothing nothing good
can come of this.

I eye fresh sutures closing the gap
on my forearm and if I don’t watch myself
I’ll unlace my arm like a corset and infection
will redden my skin like an algae bloom
a red tide and I tell myself don’t go there.

I know lost weekends and the poking horns
of no good devils and setbacks and how
none of it’s worth it and still.

editors note:

“Here we go again!” Every addict’s refrain. – mh clay

The Artful Seduction of Malice

featured in the poetry forum October 19, 2015  :: 1 comment

You pair up with me like a lover sick
for contact any contact but you carry
harm with you in your sweat and
on your tongue and in your bed and
in your eyes you mean me harm you do.

You court on long days when sunsets
bloom peach on my lips and
you stand a silhouette dark
in my doorway cheek bones
pale and angled just so
just so I alone can see the
sharp small shadows they throw
on the coming night.

Your voice burrs on the air
between us and the air
thrums slightly then ripples
my chin seconds later and I know
right then I know I will spurn you in
a rupture of defiance So go for
you are not true you are not true
do you hear? Pack up your skulk and
disease and sweet talk for there is no
we with us, not yet.

editors note:

In time, she’ll wend her way. She will be us and you will be lost; deliciously, bitterly lost. – mh clay