The New Year Listens for Hope

featured in the poetry forum December 27, 2023  :: 0 comments

The snow reflects the blue
the twilight sky is losing.

No breathing creatures reply
to my invitation to dine

on safflower seeds,
or feast on the lard

and cornmeal concoction strewn
over paving stones swept clean.

The wind kicks up a murmuration
of snow, scatters snow-veils over drifts.

My frozen exhalations hang
thin as the New Year.

Where are the companions
I once summoned with my longing?

A pair of cardinals flit in,
beak the fuel they find,

carry a tiny answer.

editors note:

Looking for the light of longing, answers abound our world around. – mh clay

Women in a Waiting Room, 1998

featured in the poetry forum February 23, 2023  :: 0 comments

I envision tiny brooms
to sweep away my stress.
Try to forget the hollow needle
that sucked tissue from my breast.

The surgeon called us here,
ten women seated in a row.
Only one of us has cancer.
He’ll call us in by name.

I hear the women’s voices,
through a criminally thin door.
Hallelujah, praise the Lord!
One by one they hurry past,

intent upon their shoes,
or what’s inside their pocketbooks
until just two of us remain.
I learn my fate.

Receive it without comment,
not inclined to celebrate
that the curse that passed me by
goes to the woman left.

She peers at my face for news.
I’m in a drama that I hate.
“I’m sorry,” I convey
without saying a word.

Can’t stop the sudden panic
that rises in her face.
Can’t check the selfishness
I feel shouldering my bag.
I leave her to the doctor
who waits behind his desk.

editors note:

Relief with remorse, there are none deserving either way. – mh clay

A Morning in Mexico

featured in the poetry forum April 23, 2022  :: 1 comment

I walk in the shadow of a colonial
cathedral. Children in plaid and navy

uniforms hurry to school. Their mothers
in cardigans and flip flops snap their gum

and ignore me as they would the annual
two-headed calf display at the fair. The traffic

spews noxious fumes. Norteño ballads
and polkas drift from side street shops, amidst

the sounds of a city grinding to its purpose:
metal shutters clattering open, engines

gunning, the bright taps of horns, bald tires
squealing. I drift past a tiled fountain

in the city center, feeling as ready for the day
as the fluttering edge of the nieve vendor’s

blue umbrella. A crush of tardy, laughing
schoolchildren rushes forward. A pang

tears at me in the way a hawk tears
at a small bird. Will I ever have a child?

editors note:

Even in foreign lands, a familiar pang is no stranger. – mh clay


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

The Orioles darted to our willow tree,
flitting from limb to limb until
they deemed it safe to visit our feeder,
a glass of purple jelly nestled

beneath the foliage. Last week a gang
of bald-faced hornets invaded
the jam pot—bad guys who staked
an illicit claim. The grape scent

befuddled their brains and they
dove in. A few drowned, doomed
by their greed. The Orioles sped away
for Mexico, where I lived in college.

On our last night, my best friend
lured my lover to her with flattery
and laughter while I grieved.
Today my husband removed the feeder

to end the hornets’ orgy of death.
I’m glad. I would have waited
at the window long into autumn,
watching for that last flash of orange.

editors note:

The last to leave is the memory. – mh clay

The End, the Beginning

featured in the poetry forum January 1, 2021  :: 0 comments

On the cusp of a planetary turning, I seek
an oracle. Surely a bush will burn away
the mystery that covers the next year, carve
paths for me to follow. Far beyond, wavering
purple and yellow walls emit auroral noises.
Hissing. Cracking. Barely visible behind
a translucent veil of arctic air, I glimpse
the fluttering wings of a prehistoric bird, visitor
from a land of myth, an intelligence I meet
for the first time on this vulnerable morning.
It flashes and flares, a creature made of fire.
Preening. Stomping. The sky’s vocalizations
fly miles through the atmosphere into dreams,
into nightmares—the random, uncanny groans
of something beyond knowing, something ancient
that lives apart but among us, who cries a warning,
who pleads for existence. A message
not just for me, but for us all. What will we do?
Its language is not ours.

editors note:

As we leave the dumpster fire that was 2020 behind, what manner of phoenix will rise from those ashes in the year ahead? We’re trying to find the words… – mh clay

One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes

featured in the poetry forum August 7, 2020  :: 0 comments

Based on the Grimm story.

I am the lonely spirit
who whooshes among rocky crags
in a frigid wind.

The pulsing galaxy sends
ancient harmonies
and I listen.

The capacious night
that rides with me

Starved child,
imprisoned child,
enslaved child,

imagine a ridge or riverbank.
Sit there.
I will hear your tears.

I am the shapeshifting crone
beside you,
wearing clothes spun with spells.

These poems in my pocket—
eat them.

A new life begins
after the first bite.

editors note:

Yes! Bring your appetite. (We welcome Peggy to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Gift of the Autumn Forest

featured in the poetry forum October 4, 2019  :: 1 comment

a cub-sized lump
slumps against
dark asphalt

magenta slit
in blue-black fur—
a goner

six crows make
a hexagonal shape
around him

obsidian feathers
like priestly garb
at this fresh altar

birches release
yellow leaves
glitter from a silver sky

falls on land old as myth
blesses the greedy
with death’s largesse

editors note:

This murder brings no conviction except that greed is good. – mh clay

Party Sex

featured in the poetry forum September 10, 2017  :: 0 comments

My roommate Mark
spends the weekend
on a broken flute, pipes
its one note to political friends.
Do they know the Revolutionary
Trotskyite League voted
to prohibit oral sex?

Through a bus window I see
a familiar Party member ride
a rusty bicycle. He stops to staple
Party flyers onto kiosks. Skinny pony,
drab army jacket, tattered Keds,
I admire his thin body, his
self-imposed poverty, imagine
us on a narrow bed, bare walls,
small room, his hand raised
in restraint. “No. Not that.”

He rides his bike from tree
to tree. In my mind, he
is not free. Except of me.

editors note:

When it’s time to go independent… Yes. That! – mh clay