Twenty Two Pairs

featured in the poetry forum November 21, 2021  :: 0 comments

Twenty two pairs of shoes on the wall
twenty two pairs of shoes
I called Betty at AMVETS
twenty one pairs of shoes on the wall

Twenty one pairs of shoes on the wall
twenty one pairs of shoes
Vito said try Sister Margaret
at Mary Seat of Wisdom
She’s really nice
especially if she doesn’t have to come and get them
twenty pairs of your shoes on the wall

Twenty pairs of your shoes on the wall
LifeStrides and Clarkes and Nine Wests
I made a call to Vincent de Paul
nineteen pairs of your shoes on the wall

Nineteen pairs of your shoes in the closet
on the shelf
on the wall
they all fill me with grief
they leave two by two
I bid them adieux
the Archdiocese just took one more pair
eighteen pairs of shoes on your wall

You’re not coming back
to put on these shoes
I never knew you had
I was afraid to look in there
your closet, your shelf, the wall
you might get sore
you’d think I was snooping
and say ‘what for’?
you were gone in a blink
letting go of your shoes
will take longer, I think
eighteen pairs of shoes on our wall

editors note:

Disseminating the deceased’s detritus, the time it takes to grapple with grief. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum April 28, 2021  :: 0 comments

She mowed the grass
she raked the leaves
she shoveled the snow
she cleaned up the place
she cooked the food and put it on the table
that wasn’t enough
I wanted her to understand me
she said I do understand you
you don’t like to mow the grass
rake the leaves
shovel the snow
I do understand

editors note:

To have is to hold. Understand? – mh clay


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

is what we called
the Jesuit scholastics who taught us
Latin, Greek, and the classics
at Loyola Academy
and in return they called us

The first time someone called me
was in a swanky club
where I took my girl
and he wanted to know if he
could put fresh-ground pepper
on my Caesar Salad
I said

Now just about everyone calls me
when I am blocking traffic
when a telemarketer calls me
and tells me about a world crisis
I never knew existed
when the mechanic gets me
to look at the underside of my car
up on the rack
and politely explains
what is wrong
and how much it will cost
to fix these things
that are all worn out
these things belonging to my car
that I never knew existed
and when I say ‘Nix’
he says OK

editors note:

Call me Mister, call me Sir, just don’t call me late for supper. OK? – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum February 21, 2020  :: 0 comments

Telemarketers have it easy
compared to how it was
four or six hour shifts of nonstop rejection
now an automated assistant answers
when you pick up your phone
no one is there
to absorb those projectiles of
bile spewing from your mouth
no one could take it much longer
than that
I did, though
I needed work
sometimes after a shift I was giddy
people claimed I was different
I sold radio time
lied that we were
‘the Paul Harvey station’
we weren’t
I didn’t care
I got a paycheck
straight commission
drank machine brewed coffee
in cups with playing cards on them
the bottom of the cup had your hole card
what do telemarketers do now?
they no longer recite their pitch
you push a button
get one of them
who, without any energy
any backbone
any moxie
takes your credit card number
doesn’t even have to tape the close
and if you mouth off
he hangs up
That can’t be any fun

editors note:

Consumer rage reduced to quiescent compliance. Oh, for the good ole days… – mh clay

More Or Less

featured in the poetry forum September 5, 2019  :: 0 comments

The older the priest
the shorter the sermon
the smaller the despot
the bigger the hat
the smaller the burger
the greater the fries
the Lesser Antilles
give me the willies

editors note:

And, far as we’re concerned, willie can keep’em. (Where’s my hat?) – mh clay

For Everyone

featured in the poetry forum February 18, 2019  :: 0 comments

For every snowflake that falls on the tundra
there is a package on Amazon’s conveyor belt
in Seattle or Arlington
with a trinket or a gold watch or a
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
that someone will open up to find
because it is not what they thought
so they send it back and get hit with
a restocking fee
and complain to Amazon or VISA or
about how badly they’ve been treated

For every time a man has whistled at
a pretty girl on a street corner and
got nothing to show for it
another pornographic website pops up
in cyberspace showing
how big your dick can be
or how easy it is to get women
or offering you cyberchats that will
change your life
so now cyberspace
is almost as big as the universe God created
on the first day

For every grain of sand on the beach
there is a drop of water in the ocean
for every drop of water in the ocean
there is a piece of junk plastic swirling around
in the Great Pacific garbage patch
a vortex bigger than Texas
for every piece of junk –
straws, Coke bottles, seat covers, sandwich bags
there is an idiot throwing them in the ocean
thinking to himself
‘this is no big deal
It’s just a straw’
for every idiot who throws a straw in the ocean
there is another idiot who thinks
the first idiot should be taken out and shot
so that humanity is divided in half
into two groups of idiots that
hate each other
this is part of God’s plan

then a poet comes along
a real wise guy and says
there are more idiots out there than
plastic junk in the ocean
than grains of sand on the beach
than drops of water
than snowflakes
than stars in the sky
all that is untrue
God, in His wisdom
when He made the universe
saw to it that there will always be more stars
than idiots
we are constantly discovering
that the universe keeps getting bigger
as our telescopes improve

so the poet‘s claim gets weaker and weaker
it is almost like God is saying
‘I made you in my image and likeness
but I’m never going to let you gang up
on Me
I’ll keep both sides of you fighting
each other
until you reach a critical mass ’
so He
in His wisdom
one day may just
scrap this universe and start over
make another one
with sand and stars and galaxies and constellations
and make wiser poets out of us
who look up and see God
smiling like a Happy Meal

editors note:

To us idiots, everywhere: Wake up and smell the Happy Meal. – mh clay

To An Artificial Plant

featured in the poetry forum October 23, 2018  :: 0 comments

Look at you
as I do
a replica of something true
completely fake
of polymer and wire
and yet
from every angle
in our living room
you look to be a
living bloom
what’s it like
to be a fraud?
Or is it natural for you
To pull off this skit
And con us all that
you’re legit?
In spite of all your artifice
the strain within must be intense
to hold this pose
this civil stance
while deep down
you quake
lest we see
you’re just a facsimile
we could learn a thing or three
watching you
your quiet guile
sitting in a plastic pot
pretending to be what you’re not
smiling your synthetic smile

editors note: Questions real from what is fake from who can tell who’s on the take. (We welcome Paul to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum June 13, 2017  :: 0 comments

Sitting at the breakfast table, reading the newspaper
Trying to guess what the market will do this week
Is like
Standing at the edge of earth with a telescope
Trying to figure out the universe
And discovering it is impossible
From this perspective
Because the future is bigger than the past
And the past is bigger than anything we know

Standing at the edge of the universe
Without a telescope
Looking at where it is expanding to and
Measuring yourself against its immensity
Is like
Going to counseling
Just the three of you
In this cubicle smaller than Galileo’s closet
Trying to figure out who will say what
And wondering why you’re
Wasting your time and your money on
This shit
Because the more you look at each other
The smaller you get

editors note:

Agoraphobics prefer closet to conjecture. – mh clay

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

September 23, 2016  :: 0 comments

“Did you come?” She was quiet, laying there on her back, her eyes closed. I guessed she did. She acted that way. I was just asking. She didn’t answer. I felt stupid asking a second time, but did anyway. “Did you come?” I asked. “Yes! Yes!” she said in an exasperated tone. “I did.” “Sorry,” I said. “Don’t be sorry. …

The Summer Breeze

featured in the poetry forum December 6, 2015  :: 0 comments

As summer winds down
The wind blows really hard
Right around Labor Day
After dinner
The trees get all breezy
You can feel the wind’s strength
It’s trying to say something
It’s the summer saying good-bye to fall
Or the fall saying goodbye to summer
Someone’s saying good-bye to someone else
I’m not sure
Who’s blowing a kiss to whom
But it is a hot kiss
Good-bye kisses can be hot
I got one once
From a girl I betrayed
For another
I was a wretch
And that last kiss was a doozy
She opened her mouth all the way
Inviting my tongue in there
Which I said ‘no’ to
Thinking she might lop it off
In spite
But she wouldn’t have
She really loved me
Her mouth said so
She let me know
The next time I want her smoldering lips
They will not be there
The next time I want someone to listen to me
It won’t be her ears listening
The next time I want the comfort
Of her arms
They’d be gone
But I wouldn’t listen
I was a wretch
And a week later the girl
I dumped her for
Dumped me
That should have made me philosophical
But it made me hard inside
Wanting to take vengeance on every woman
On earth
But that didn’t happen
Because all the women I met
Found me unattractive
Being wretched and
Loathing yourself
Will do that
And it deprived me getting to know
Girls I could have
At least talked to
So this makes me philosophical
Thinking again about the trees and the wind and summer
And everything
Is the fall kissing the summer good-bye
With a smile on its smoldering lips
Saying, ‘Adios, motherfucker
Your time’s up?’
Or is it the summer bidding adieu to
The fall
With a pithy riposte like
‘See you in the funny papers’?
Either way
There will be a rendezvous
Between the fall and winter
The winter and spring
Spring and summer
Each one thinking they got the better of
The one in front or back
Don’t they realize there is this thing
Called payback?
And whenever you think you’re
One up on someone else
Next time it’s your turn
In the box
Summer doesn’t know
Fall doesn’t know
Winter doesn’t know
Spring hath not a clue
But the wind knows
When the wind blows
And the wind blows
All year long

editors note:

Summer breeze with Fall between a Winter freeze to bring an allergic introspective sneeze. ‘Tis an ill wind… – mh clay