featured in the poetry forum November 8, 2022  :: 0 comments

Resentment is a festival of flies buzzing
round a half-munched sausage link
and sauerkraut on a paper plate
I want to dump in a barrel
but not to walk fifty feet through flies,
germs, yellow jackets.

I love sauerkraut but not leftover
on a paper plate with flies.
There’s no more or less resentment here
in Lake Village than in Star City
or other delta towns.
Look at this mess!

I chose to travel to Lake Village,
enter its school, tell the kids about poems,
have them write.
My partner David Reveal’s feet propped on
the desk up front, I recite a poem
about leftovers. Who left this mess?

editors note:

Sometimes it’s the mess we carry with us. – mh clay

Bronx Hall of Fame

featured in the poetry forum June 27, 2022  :: 0 comments

I was there, she took me there
and it was a long line of columns.
I recall liking it. I liked that it
was a long line of white columns
with busts of men on them, Ben
Franklin, or men like him, or
like Jefferson and Jackson on the
bills, the tens and twenties.
No women, they were all men
who looked like Bill Clinton
might have looked, had he lived
a hundred years ago. I liked
that it was on a hill, a hilltop,
that there were trees with green branches
around. There was no one thing.
I liked that it was different, a break
from the ordinary, and I wasn’t
thinking all these busts are of dead men.
It wasn’t at all like a funeral parlor,
not dim like that, not spacious
and dark like a theater, it was outside.
I must have looked in the eyes,
the dead eyes that couldn’t look back.
It wasn’t like a person giving me
a dirty look or a look of sympathy.
I was holding her hand. She brought me.

editors note:

When looking into the eyes of the past, it helps to have a hand to hold. – mh clay

A Man Like a Tree

featured in the poetry forum April 6, 2022  :: 0 comments

“Sparky almost checked out
Of the hotel of life,”
Is what you say when a man
Past eighty falls from
A small scaffold his
California daughter told him
Recently to get rid of.
If years could be measured
In height, Sparky’d be
A sequoia—though he
Didn’t say that, but did
Speak of the fall,
The bruised arm, aching shoulder
And said this in what
Had been the Commercial
Hotel, founded by his dad,
Whose picture, a color
Daguerreotype, hangs
Above the lobby desk
Looking handsome, sapling young.

editors note:

Stiff, yet still a sap, if not a sapling. – mh clay

The Paragons Meet the Jesters

featured in the poetry forum September 25, 2021  :: 0 comments

Three kinds of people would steal my music:
the drug addict who sells it for drugs,
the music lover who sells it to a record shop
or adds it to their own collection,
and the person who wants it because
It’s mine and they want to steal something
I love that’s not part (or all) of my body
but part of my soul. The term
record shop signals vinyl, not a clunky 78
but a 45 disc such as I’d seen on a wall
at Swingin Slim’s in a subway arcade off
Times Square. I bought the Swallows’
It Ain’t the Meat It’s the Motion, took it home
and up in my room with the door closed
danced to its jumpy rhythm, and the
Dominoes’ Tenderly with Jackie Wilson
on lead. Eyes closed I listened seeing Judy
Hayman’s long face close to mine,
enraptured in her brunette beauty and
Jackie’s strong smooth voice. The thief
took that from me because I’m me
alone in a room looking out at windows
at green treetops and part of a gray river
that curves like an hourglass hip.
If they wanted even more they’d take an LP,
say, the Paragons Meet the Jesters.
They wouldn’t sell it so they could stick
a needle in an arm in a gas station rest
room, but because it’s mine, like that part
in R Kelly’s Slow Dance, “Let the record spin
Round and round,” a 45. Judy and I, she
taller by two inches, cling to its melodies
out on the floor in the school cafeteria.

editors note:

The lowest thievery; stealing memories. (We welcome Pete to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Among Women Only

featured in the poetry forum February 15, 2021  :: 0 comments

No pretty girl will come and ask to sit at my table.
No gazelle will walk back and forth across the room,
no madonna with little crosses in her sharp black eyes.
This is a world without women. Nothing feminine
touches this floor which is cold and made of stone.
No finely shaped hand opens this door which is steel.
We men talk among ourselves. Here there are boxes
and bells to tell us when to stop and when to begin.

Sometimes I go off by myself. I go down the dock
and inside the freezer a woman dances before my mind.
I see her auburn hair, her large brown eyes, fair skin.
I hear her. She tells me she has a son with my name
and walks from table to table in the little restaurant.
She asks what I am writing. I say you, Gail, are all
I am writing. Her son and husband have no place here.
I am on a forklift moving pallets of roast beef eyes.

No fragrance, no faces like wheatfields, only frost
on boxes and voices over a loudspeaker and beef smells
inside truck carts after the trucks have been emptied.
Blocks away women with big hair, backbone, and style
mingle in the lives of other women, other men. Here
on the dock hangs a grill that kills flies and bugs
to keep them away from the meat. And in the cooler
men dressed for winter and loneliness hustle and thrive.

editors note:

The cool(ed) company some keep; cold embrace, frozen meat. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum November 20, 2020  :: 0 comments

Two-three, February third
I have no Brylcreem in my hair
an elephant stands in my foyer
my windbreaker pocket holds a rabbit’s foot
I purchase Valentine roses
I haven’t eaten chocolate Easter bunny ears in two decades
I’m the same and not the same
as forty years ago
my parents at the dining room table broke
a wishbone, it was still light outside
early summer night
I’m happier now than forty years ago
even though I miss them
and recently had eye surgery
also surgery on my nose, mouth, and groin
and have seen a car break through the wall
of a Chinese restaurant
it’s been a while since mosquitoes buzzed
in my ear, Two-three
I wear my father’s watch
and remember his voice, and also my mother’s
two nights ago
my friend said
he could maybe see his late brother
here on earth and I could see my parents
since we might not get to see them
after we die
we left our campfire and walked
with flashlights, warming my chilled feet
I need to ask what he meant
by seeing them here, Two-three
an elephant stands in my foyer
a round mirror is hanging on the wall
a lantern sits in a plastic box in my garage
my parents at the dining room table
broke a wishbone
Two-three, I am the same and not the same

editors note:

All our recaps and random recollections make us the same, two-three. – mh clay