crystal cynicism

featured in the poetry forum December 30, 2021  :: 0 comments

i have never understood the symbolism behind
the crystal ball in times square and
why it is so revered
what those thousands of onlookers wait for
every december 31st is beyond me
(did you know it’s not a seasonal decoration?
it remains there year-round)

i never understood what it could mean
beyond materialism & a message
look at how we choose to appropriate
our city budget when there are
homeless people on every corner and
a growing waste-management problem

and so i set aside my cynicism and look
(figuratively and metaphorically)
into the crystal ball there and see
or at least try to see what it means

and it’s there that i find it
perhaps we are all that crystal ball
rising and falling every year
lifted, raised and then dropped
fragile all over but still unbroken

no matter how many times they cheer
for our demise, countdown to our sinking
over the horizon like a great sun
we will rise and be seen again

and that merits a toast

editors note:

Each year, better bounced than broken. – mh clay

Fair Game

featured in the poetry forum January 14, 2021  :: 0 comments

i can’t remember how old i was when i realized
that this body does not belong to me
perhaps it is a trophy, hung on the wall
my bones are stuck between the teeth of
full-bellied hunters and my blood is
a satisfying aftertaste stained at the corners
of lips that are not mine

this body is not mine
this body belongs to the night
a man set a jack and coke in front of me and
stood there until i sipped it
this body belongs to the sting of
that liquor and the way it felt like
betraying everything within me that is feminist

this body is the kill
born to be hunted for sport
the kind of thing that is cut up for desirable parts
marked fair game as soon as i sipped that drink
or got in that car or wore that dress or
read those poems about rape culture

this body belongs to the night i realized
it feels the same way every time
you will want to stick your fingers down your throat and
hollow out the part of you that feels like it is made of sin and wrongdoing
purge yourself of everything that put you in
the hunter’s crosshairs and
turn the tables

editors note:

No season, no license; respect, instead. – mh clay

Women’s March

featured in the poetry forum July 9, 2020  :: 0 comments

I am midway through my point in a debate
when chauvinism interrupts and shouts
like it is meant to be an insult
I push my glasses up on the bridge of my nose and keep talking.
He shouts again, telling me
you want all men to die
I push past and finish my point anyway.
And his words ring of everything I will keep fighting against

The day I became a woman was when prejudice whispered
you are not worth anything
you will never be worth anything
if you can’t have a decent body

And those words smacked of privilege and arrogance and everything I did not want to be

I am eight years old when sexual harassment puts its palm to my face and says
you are so beautiful it is a shame
your father must be so ugly

And his words sounded like 332 female gymnasts,
80 women in the film industry,
And 17 with their skeletons in a White House closet
And every reason I cannot be silenced.

editors note:

Say on, Sister! – mh clay

An open letter to the Texas Board Of Education:

featured in the poetry forum February 12, 2020  :: 0 comments

I see that you removed Hillary Clinton from my history books.
On a twenty point scale,
She scored a five.
You erased Helen Keller, who scored a seven.

I want you to know that the daughters of this system
Will spend their entire lives looking at white men
Flipping through their history books
Searching for some semblance of their undeniable strength
They will not be able to find them
They will not see presidents and trailblazers made in their own image
You are not abbreviating history,
You are erasing our her-story.

I want you to know that you will not succeed in this.
I will raise my daughters with female empowerment.
I will teach them about Hillary, I will teach them about Maya, and Ruth, and Sonia
I will teach them exactly what you are so afraid to recognize:
That they did so much more than take part in history
They are the very foundation on which it stands.
I will teach my daughters the stories of those before them
They will learn that every woman is their sister
If your sister cannot speak, lend her your voices.
If your sister cannot walk, carry her.
When you decide to erase our history,
We will remind you that we wrote in permanent marker.

editors note:

“How do I get this ink out?” He said, while pulling privilege from his obscurity… – mh clay

the truth is:

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

inspired by the New York Times

the truth is,
a colon mark, typing bar blinking, air, impossible to define, so subjective that it almost contradicts itself
what is the truth?
the truth is false sometimes
according to my editor the truth has to be corroborated by at least three sources, has to be consistent, must be phrased correctly, must include all the details
the truth is, in essence, a dance.
sometimes a fiery tango on the thin line between the objective and the opinionated, most times a deliberate two-step into the persuasive bounds of thinly-veiled propaganda
rarely two feet planted firmly in place on the unbiased.
the truth lies in the redacted, often found in the unseen, in the unsaid, takes some reading between the lines sometimes
says Trump has nothing to hide but won’t release the tax returns, says Mueller’s probe completely exonerates the president but keeps the report in a tight fist,
says Saudi Arabia doesn’t know what happened to Khashoggi,
says there isn’t a migrant crisis at the border
says white supremacists are decent human beings
lies to a country in 140 characters or less
says it can’t cross party lines, can’t be universally recognized, agreed upon,
perhaps the truth is a universal disagreement.
the truth is under attack.
there’s an old saying.
don’t kill the messenger, and if you want to go literary, you can shoot all the blue jays you want but it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.
the truth looks like Jamal, looks like the Capital Gazette, looks like Charlie Hebdo,
looks like the blood of the messenger has become synonymous with newspaper ink,
looks like it can all end in a headline,
looks like the messengers have become soldiers with pen paper camera breaking news write it record it break the story at all costs
the truth is resilient,
says you shall make no law concerning the freedom of speech, or of the press
says democracy dies in darkness
says je suis charlie,
says we are putting out a damn paper tomorrow,
the truth is worth it.

editors note:

Fake that! (We welcome L.A. to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

¿En Que Idioma Hablas Tú? (What language do you speak?)

featured in the poetry forum February 17, 2019  :: 1 comment


1. relating to Spain, its people, its culture, or its language

When you ask me if I am fluent in Spanish, I will tell you that my language is a restless child, always hungry and impatient, always reaching for things it cannot grasp.
My language is beautiful, it is selfish, it is brave.
When you ask me if I am fluent in Spanish, I will tell you what it’s like to be full of paella and too much love.
My Spanish is knowing God in more than one language
It is beautiful, all knowing, impossible.
It is who I am.
Sometimes, I forget how to speak it.
I reach for syllables that do not come, but somehow manage to be present.
They fill parts of me I did not know were empty.
My Spanish teases the President and cannot be deported.
It is asking myself whether or not I am white,
My Spanish is “Are you awake yet?”
“There’s a lot of work to do today.”
My Spanish is begging my tías to tell me about their homeland,
Sometimes too much, sometimes not enough.
My Spanish prays out loud
My Spanish is siéntate niña, y escúchame
When you ask me if I am fluent in Spanish,
I will tell you that I earned a dual literacy certificate in the fifth grade.
It’s the silence that hangs in the air when I’m done talking in my AP class
Or the color of sangria fruit
My Spanish is a half-written story that weaves between two languages
It cannot be governed nor deferred.
It is an emotion and a way of thinking, a system of belief.
I am the halfway point between two countries,
Hispanic American.
My language was fed to me in tortilla Española,
It was read to me out of the Bible
It made me who I am.
My Spanish esta muy hambriento
My Spanish is bien ruidoso
My Spanish es muy callado.
Now I understand why my grandmother never learned how to speak English.
She planted her language like seeds between my lips
And I never gave it up.
When you ask me if I am fluent in Spanish,
I will tell you I am descendant of an immigrant who never got a citizenship
I will tell you I am not a dream to be deferred
I will tell you I am Hispanic American, and in my grandmother’s country, we don’t build walls.
We are proud of who we are and we will not be silenced or governed or deported.
When you ask me if I am fluent in Spanish,
I will say,
Yes, I am.

editors note:

Whatever we speak, speak freely! – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum July 13, 2018  :: 0 comments

The government doesn’t listen to you until you turn eighteen.
Because until then, you are just a teenager.
A lazy, entitled teenager who’s on their phone too much and should have a summer job.
The government doesn’t listen to you until you turn eighteen.
Until then you are just a teenager.
A teenager who sits on the floor of a dark classroom
Next to the body of your best friend.
And you scream and scream out to a world that will never hear your voice.
A world that is too loud to hear your voice
Too loud with its own partisanship and hatred
A world that will never be quiet enough to listen to a last breath as it escapes the body of a fourteen year old.
The government doesn’t listen to you until you turn eighteen.
Because until then you are just a teenager
A lazy, entitled teenager who’s on their phone too much
Little do they know, you are on your phone to watch a list of casualties climb
Hoping to God you will never recognize a name.
The government doesn’t listen to you until you turn eighteen
Because until then you are just a teenager
And the adults in your life will decide what is right for you
And to speak out against it makes you lazy and entitled
I ask them now, have you witnessed the horrors that we have?
Can you really tell us what is right?
I ask the government now, do you hear us?
Do you hear us hiding in the back corner of our classrooms?
Do you hear us reading the eulogy at too many funerals, for too many friends?
I ask the government, now do you hear us?
Because if a gun fires inside a classroom, and there’s no politician there to hear it, it will always make a sound.

editors note:

“It’s more complicated than your young minds can comprehend,” we say (all the while hoping they will just get back to their snap chats). – mh clay