I know a kid who got killed by the police.

featured in the poetry forum December 3, 2022  :: 0 comments

He was a kid. His wife was pregnant, but
he was a kid. Just out of high school.
He looked like a kid. He was white.

Most of the people I know are either white
or indigenous or a mix of white
and indigenous or mostly white
but identify as indigenous or mostly
indigenous but identify as white,
and this poet laureate I know who
is mixed said that mixed indigenous
have the same killed-by-police rates
as indigenous who aren’t mixed.

I remember when the cops pulled me
over and I was moving, so my car was packed
to the hilt, where I made sure that the windows
weren’t blocked, but other than that every nook
and cranny was filled with everything I owned
in the world and it was a barren street so it was just
me and the cops and the sun and the day was hot
and it was noon so the sun was ready for a full
day of cooking us slowly and the cops asked if I had
any drugs in the car and I said no and they asked
if I had any drugs in the car and I said no and they
asked if I had any drugs in the car for a third time
and I said no and they told me to step out of the car
and it was a barren street and the sun wouldn’t be
able to do anything and there were no drugs in the car
and the sun was in the car and they told me to empty my car
and I said I couldn’t do that and they said they could arrest me
and I said for? and they asked if I had any drugs in the car
and I said no and they asked if I had any guns in the car
and I didn’t know why they changed it to guns all of a sudden
and they told me they could bring me to the station and
I said there wasn’t anything in the car and they said they weren’t
so sure of that, that the car looked pretty full to them,
but there weren’t any guns in the car or any drugs in the car
and they made me take everything out and I mean everything,
all my property—pillows and photos and books and scrapbooks
and paper that got loose and up and flew away in the wind
and my bedsheets were in the dirt on the side of the road and
a fan was on the side of the road and all my clothes, right there,
my underwear right there, my toothbrush and toothpaste in the dirt
and a car went by and its driver looked at me and I looked at her
and there was nothing I could do and then when the trunk was empty,
the car was empty, they took flashlights and they found no drugs
and they found no guns and they told me to drive more carefully,
when I had been driving perfectly and everything was on the side
of the road, this bizarre sight of a car with all its doors open, the trunk
open, and a lamp in the grass and a mirror up against a rock showing all
of this in duplicate and I put everything back in the car, slowly, them
standing there, watching.

And I had a friend who was killed
by the police. And his wife was pregnant. And he looked like a kid.
Because he was.

editors note:

A search for drugs, guns, life; but no seizure. – mh clay

Everywhere

May 3, 2022  :: 0 comments

I clean psych wards. That’s my job.  Once a week, I depill. For four separate wards in the county. I go from room to room and look for pills. They’re everywhere. The patients hide them in plants, behind the toilet, under the toilet cover, in gum stuck under the toilet rim, in every single crevice of their mattress. I’ve shaken …

Putain

featured in the poetry forum March 7, 2022  :: 0 comments

“You can’t imagine how stupid the whole world has grown nowadays.”
―Nikolai Gogol
born Apr 1, 1809, Ukraine
died Feb 21, 1852, Russia

No, through all my tears I still shall laugh,
Sing songs despite my troubles;
Have hope despite all odds,
I want to live!”
—Lesya Ukrainka
“Contra Spem Spero!” [I hope against hope!] born Feb 25, 1871, Ukraine

It’s raining in Ukraine today, now, raining
rain and bombs. Ex-Pres Donald Trump

calls this an act of “genius.” Disingenuous.
The art of whore. Excuse me, I meant to say

Putain, in French, means ‘whore.’ It’s spelled
Tee-are-you-em-pee. That’s P. Like urine.

Gee, are you empty-headed? Showers today
in Kyiv. Echoes of “I was put in a narrow

cell with a concrete floor.” And sanctions
will be softened by China. Dedovshchina

sanctioned by Russia, internal violence
that’ll be spread to the world. The way

that the 1918 influenza pandemic and
World War I were wed. The way that

Covid-19 and Cold War have gnawed
on the world. Watch how Russia will

infect us, this world, with viruses, both
biological and technological. And all

illogical. Stress ill. Sick. “How stupid
the whole world.” The world holed.

Whored. Bodies soon wheelbarrowed.
Helled. How the dies in bodies was

always right there. All you have to do
is open your eyes. This will go beyond

Ukraine. A reign. In blood. Crimea crime.
A ruse. A rush. What’s next? Belarus?

Finland? My home? Villages seized. And
this means epilepsy. Diseased. Destroyed.

I woke to find a world of smoke. Night-
mared. Vladimired. Vlad the Empirer–

another actual Big Brother. If you
have a camera, then film. If you are

a writer, then write. If you’re a fighter,
then fight. Wake up. The world is

at war again. Guerre. Beware. Be
aware. I want to live. I want to live.

I want to live! I want to live! I want
to live! I want to live! I want to live!

editors note:

Just cuz it’s “over there” doesn’t mean we shouldn’t beware! – mh clay

In This Poem, My Body is Viewed as Perfect for Guarding Things and My Hands are Viewed as Perfect for Giving Direct Pressure for Spurting and My Writing is Not Viewed at All

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

At the job interview, they ask me if I am good with working at night.
They hire me for nights.
At the job interview, they ask me if I am good at working in bad neighborhoods.

They hire me to work in my neighborhood.
At the job interview, they ask me if I am good at working alone.
They hire me to work with a boss who practices all of the different forms of hostile environment on me. He is exceptionally good at it.

At the job interview, they ask me if I am OK with being exposed to radiation.
They hire me to be exposed to radiation, refusing to give me a dosimeter, even though the hiring paperwork said they would give me a dosimeter. My boss tells me one night, Radiation never hurt anyone.
At the job interview, they ask me if I am OK with having my fingers broken.

They hire me to have my fingers broken and what I didn’t realize is that this would be done by myself, on a monthly basis, in front of a board who would critique each break with a sheet that I would have to sign with pen in my mouth.
At the job interview, they ask me if I like elevator music.
I say I do not and then they place me inside of an elevator and play me a tape of a Cadillac being crushed in a pig-slaughter room, explaining to me that any music played in an elevator is ‘elevator music,’ and I try to explain to them that these sounds are not music and they explain to me that I am being filmed.

editors note:

For playback at breaktime. – mh clay

Fear / Police / More Fear / More Police

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

i

and I am afraid of the police and thankful for the police and afraid
of the police and I rode with the police and one cop was a racist
but another cop was a real cop and we can only focus on the racist cop
as if only he exists when that good cop exists that I rode along with
and maybe he was only good for those 8 hours I was with him
and maybe the racist was only racist for the ∞ hours I was with him
or maybe we use statistics in any way that we want and maybe I’m so lonely
that I ride along with police or maybe it’s a way for me to get over my fear,
capiophobia, how I was in class and a kid said, You know nothing about fear,
because he thought he owned fear and I remember the smoking of pain,
the world running down, how when I was an ambulance driver, a guy
having a heart attack in back, and this cop gave us a police escort
all the way to the hospital and I cried because I hated cops at the time,
fear of the cops at the time, watching this fear try to help save lives
and I remember driving with that good cop and driving down the street
and five people flipped him off, not five people together, but spread apart,
so that the fingers came, the night came, the strange moment, me asking him
if that happens all the time and the cop saying that they’re not flipping him off
but flipping off the uniform, the vehicle, the gun hanging, hidden, above his head,
and I asked if that affects him, the fingers, and he didn’t say anything, the city ugly,
like a disillusion, a fallout, a macro-aggression, a microphone on his chest,
the graffiti on fire, like fire, is fire, destroying a window, destroying a wall, destroying
a mailbox, destroying a mural, a train, a house, a sidewalk, a fire hydrant, a sewer,
destroying a sewer, except you can’t, and they can’t, and I can’t, because the police
are there, and maybe that’s a good thing and maybe that’s hell, but the way we talk
about things in this country’s with the gloves on, one-sided, false, or, worse,
two-sided, as if that’s all that exists, as if no one exists, as if we replace discrimination
with discrimination, as if the end is the beginning, as if we should hate hate, as if
I told my wife, The summer’s coming. We have to get ready for the fires.

ii

a neighbor upstairs says through the thin walls, America’s flag should just be bullet holes . . .

iii

We need you to
paint the bottom of the stairs again
take out the garbage
clean up this shit
clean up this vomit
help with the blood
pick all these dead rabbits out of the barbed wire
commit suicide
take off your pants
put your hands behind your back
shut your fucking mouth
do what I tell you
tell us if this hurts
go back to where you came from
take off your thong
help us with the body
find his finger
get on your knees
tell us what happened
report to human resources
bag up all your clothing
get tested
stand where those footprints are
pretend like you didn’t see this
sit there
kill these birds
find the exit wound
disconnect
search for any UXOs
fill out these forms
paint the bottom of the stairs again

iv

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

editors note:

All the feelings, find your UXOs (unexploded ordinance). Read this again… – mh clay

How to Prepare to Watch The Lighthouse

April 11, 2020  :: 0 comments

Don’t be alarmed if alarms alarm in your head. Remember, the lighthouse of your body is in your head. The island of your head. I have a head. It alarmed during the film. But this is because I am a horror fan and this was horror is horror and I got in an argument with a Poet Laureate from Minnesota …

I Had a Girl Ask Me to Marry Her After a Month

featured in the poetry forum July 29, 2019  :: 0 comments

I could imagine her going to the dentist and saying, “You wanna do a coronary bypass on me today?”

Or her going to the zoo and asking the workers if they wanted to open up all the gates.

Or her going to a tattoo artist and saying, “Cover my entire back. With whatever you want. I trust you.”

I’m not somebody you marry. Hell, I’m not even somebody you hire. If you don’t believe me, just ask the long list of my previous job interviewers. They all looked at me and said, “I would not marry you.”

My parents’ dog loves me though, so that’s pretty awesome. She licks my face and I run to the bathroom yelling, “Gross!”

I used to do security at a town dump where people could take or leave anything they wanted. It was next to a skiing area called Suicide Hill. True story.

As an EMT, I transported a woman who said she was a vampire. I thought she might try to bite me, so I didn’t take her blood pressure. We took her to a psych ward. When I went inside, I whispered to the nurse that the patient thinks she’s a vampire and the nurse said, “Then let’s get her to bed before the sun comes up.”

The best girl I ever got to sleep with was one who wouldn’t have sex with me. We just slept. But she was really good at it. She was warm and soft and smelled like dice.

I watched the entire first season of Breaking Bad alone in the office where I worked in China. The boss said I could use the company’s DVD player. The only problem was that the office was supposed to be haunted, so it created all this extra tension to the show. I’d press pause sometimes and listen, worried that I’d heard something that was sneaking up to kill me. Then I’d go back to watching the teacher destroy his life. It reminded me of me.

editors note:

The best answer to the question,”Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” …still as me (I hope). – mh clay

We are Approaching 50 and We are Scared Because of Our Jobs

featured in the poetry forum February 2, 2019  :: 1 comment

They are not respectful
jobs.
Melissa is a clerk and she says
her legs have been chopped off
from standing when she should be sitting.
Joe works in a shoe shop
and says that he would murder
a shoe
if you could murder a shoe
but you can’t murder a shoe

because he has tried,
taking an ax
to his shoes,
drunk,
chopping with the assurance
of a salesman.
And I work security,
which means that people talk to me
like I’m a cop
with no authority,

which I am,
letting me know
that it’s OK with them
if I commit suicide
as long as my suicide
is a vacation,
as long as it is quiet and behaved,
locked in a corner
where the magazines
rot.

editors note:

Outrageous! Such flagrant ageism, job-ism, who cares-ism. I’m scared, too. (While we have enjoyed Ron’s work in our Short Stories forum for a few years now, we are pleased to welcome Ron to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read all of his madness, short stories and poems, on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

And

featured in the poetry forum November 16, 2018  :: 0 comments

They didn’t know it,
but there were hazmat buildings
right next to an elementary school.
We were separated by a deep ravine
and trees that I was told

couldn’t be removed
without biohazard gear,
the branches so infected
that you could break them open
and a devil made entirely made of snow

would pop out.
Through a small clearing
I found a spot
where I could see the elementary school
looking like a romantic comedy film star

sunning on a boring Tuesday.
I screamed to it
to run
but it didn’t listen.
I turned around

and went back in the building
where I was told
I would be exposed to radiation
whether I liked it or not.
I didn’t.

editors note: We may bloom toxic now, but half-life is forever. – mh clay

Water

featured in the poetry forum September 10, 2018  :: 1 comment

People ask me
if I believe in God
and every time they do
I think of kissing her neck
from behind with her hands
in the sink, holding the wine
carafe like she loved glass.

editors note:

Love (and cleanliness) is next to what you believe. – mh clay