On the eve of a new century

featured in the poetry forum December 28, 2020  :: 0 comments

for Gail Langstroth

Snow falls thick enough to be heard—
an inept burglar. I fall asleep.

A moonbeam sounds like a forgotten tune.

I climb a frozen tree beneath the stars
near the house where my sister was born.

Beyond the bay window, stairs
where she fell, broke her foot.

A robin on the cobblestone walkway
tries to flap a broken wing.

The bird shrieks for help that will not come;
I know this because I once tried.

editors note:

Given this passing year, let’s try, anyway. – mh clay

On the occasion of getting lost in New Mexico

featured in the poetry forum April 4, 2020  :: 0 comments

Before that day, I was sure everything would work out.
We shout-sang “Radar Love” in my 1980 Bonneville.
The motorcycles in the parking lot were in retrospect, a warning.
We’ll tell you girls how to find the highway again
but first, you girls give my friend and me a kiss.

We didn’t see before we were the only girls there.
We didn’t yet know that adventures take bad turns.
With a fistful of hair, he mashes his lips with mine.
I gag on his beer-soaked tongue.
That’s a good start, but you’ll have to go lower than that.

We act like we’re down for a party, buy the next round,
and the round after that, and the round after that.
Forty minutes and seven molestations later—
we lie, say we have pot in the car, say we want to get it,
let’s get lit so the real fun can begin.

He says, sure baby, get the weed. You little bitches
know how to have a good time.
We walk out calmly,
laughing. We walk so slow. We walk so slow.
They watch at the door. We walk so slow.
When we finally run, I hear myself scream.

editors note:

Shudder to think what coulda, instead of, thank god, what did. (We welcome Janette to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

The things I remember about her house

featured in the poetry forum November 28, 2019  :: 0 comments

The cold splash of whole milk in my mouth,
the creamy tongue-feel of what it is to be fed.

The icy coolness of hose water, the metallic bite of it
as I open the back of my throat and guzzle.

The taste of my grandmother’s fudge, still warm from the double-boiler;
thick dense sponge of chocolate between my teeth.

The crunch of boots on frozen ice-snow; crackle-crunch chill wind,
entombed in layers of coat, vest, snow pants, leg warmers,
ski mask, thermal underwear, scarf, hat, earmuffs,
mittens over gloves of Michigan winter.

My first sip of tea (and every sip of tea I’ve had after)
when the water is so warm—too warm—hurts my tongue but only just,
herbal flower honey sizzle ginger cinnamon chamomile,


editors note:

Wherever you spend today, may it make memories like this. May you whisper, “Thanks!,” and be at peace. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum July 7, 2019  :: 0 comments

after Sheila Squillante

In the Fear of Being Abandoned, there
is a house devoid of conversation, the
dull drone and flash of a flickering
television. There are empty lady pints
of Haagen-Dazs draped in dusty cobwebs,
cardboard pizza boxes loom high
like a house of cards.

In the Fear of Loneliness, the skin is
blistered and chapped from the
cold void of a lover. The frozen air
flays the tips of your thumbs,
turns nipples into shattered glass
and useless nerve endings.

In the Fear of Harm, you still flinch
at quick movements though no one
has raised their fists for years. You rub
your hand over invisible rubicund wounds,
trace the outline of an imagined mark,
push the index finger into the
indelible tenderness of pain.

In the Fear of Delight, you keep your
organs close and small: pleasure removed
is pleasure destroyed. Better to push aside
a world you cannot live in for very long.

editors note:

A four-fold affront from the only thing we have to fear. – mh clay

What I could not say to you

August 4, 2013  :: 0 comments

For Ann

Words sometimes fail to appear
when they are most needed
and the voiced sound is choked
in a moment of disharmony.

The ears fail too
in their task to listen
to the rests between the noise
for the comfort that
is left to the imagination.

The skin neglects its task
to find the heat of another,
to seek out the embrace
of those hands, that press of flesh,

the one that says, Yes,
everything will be alright.

editors note:

Yes, thanks! We need poets to help us with what we cannot say. Nice! – mh clay