Small Circles

featured in the poetry forum July 26, 2023  :: 0 comments

Say the brain is a tractor
ridden on stage by a politician
whose only skill is be-
moaning the deaths
of those he kills with
glee, his policies. They
sell coffee minus its
essential chemical property.
They sell diet cigarettes.
You can buy a house
for little less than every-
thing you’ve ever worked
toward. It’s nice–to stay
inside at night, to smoke
so many cigarettes and
miss you so much and
all the time and always.

editors note:

Damned intractable tractor! – mh clay

Death Letter Redux

featured in the poetry forum March 8, 2023  :: 0 comments

The day I found out that
the woman I loved was with
someone else, I took a cab
home from wherever I was
and sat for three or four
hours on my floor. It’s one
thing not to believe a lie;
it’s another to fully exhume
a truth you’d rather die
from natural causes than
to have beaten into your brain
in manifold ways. When I wake
up each morning, the light
in my kitchen, once warm and
resplendent, is nothing now
if not loud, a toddler shouting
through every room in the gut.

One day, you’ll get too
high and also imagine
that the world you once
wanted is no longer possible.
When that day comes,
tell me about it, (how does
it feel?), if it stings, if when
one day, we meet inside
another life, we can try
again. In March, I told you
that I meant what I said
in that letter and I’d mean
it forever. You got back to me
later, but you weren’t you,
and I was no longer me,
and we were just part
of a picture that was once
part of a garden that was
part of a house that no
one no longer lives in.

editors note:

Unhoused in your own house, something to write home about. – mh clay

Write Back Soon

featured in the poetry forum September 6, 2018  :: 0 comments

When my physician,
out of professional
interest, asks me
if I smoke, I tell him
no, then let it sit, think
of that rainless May,
my last in grad school,
when I’d come home,
smoke two Parliaments
down to the bone, ear-
buds in, listening to
that one Superchunk
B-side, a song
off an A-side,
which in 1994
got little play anyway.
In 1994 my brother
was born. When he
visits me in Jersey
City, I want him to
show up with more
than a shrug. They’re
tossing grandpa
into assisted living,
he says. You never
call dad. There are
three or four marbles
stuck in my throat
when I ask Eric if he
smokes; he doesn’t, I
know, but I know he’ll
cut one with me
if I ask him nicely.
Outside, every summer
cloud is loud with this
cancerous din I hear
loudest when my car-
cinogenic head fills
like a gas tank with
all my vices, alive
and latent. I’d like,
for once, an an-
swer or two, some-
thing like a tattoo
I could remove
or a mind
that isn’t mine.

editors note:

It all burns down to ash, anyway; no mind at all. – mh clay

Poem with Smoked Salmon Omelet & Fresh Fruit Cup

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

Sunday. Brunch party. Brooklyn. The drinks
are bottomless. You know what I mean? It’s

a smart enough scheme. You flourish your
instrument, instead of water, waiters pour

booze in it. Someone is brilliant, but I’m not
fit to drink. It makes me less sharp, more

apt to reveal unsavory things. Reader, have
you ever considered the flexibility of BYOB?

Interested in limits, I decided to bring my own
cocaine. Why? asked my date. Well, I replied,

I fancy the taste, but more than that, what it
does to my brain – I like to act fast, speak in

excess. Have you any brunch secrets you wish
to reveal? Well sometimes my eyes quick-drift

to the waitress. She must be twenty, her pants
must contain planets and I yearn for Mars,

for trips to a moon, and not even ours. In my
latent daydreams, she proffers me pills on a

plush velvet pillow, recites verse in a patois so
palatable, so Northern European, I can’t even

stand it. Looking down now, I powder my nose,
then next thing I know, the restaurant dissolves

and it’s just us two, a semblance of we – so we
finish the blow with her gorgeous house keys.

editors note:

One way to blow your cool… – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum March 9, 2016  :: 0 comments

You have
the most beautiful
house keys. You leave
me just enough
awake to watch
you leave.
– from Poem with Pepper Spray and Bottle Opener by Graham Foust

I’m still in the process of moving,
she said, out. My reply must have

been something like fine because
what other words has a shrug

learned to say? In high school
I fixed my geometry gaze

on that wave of flesh between
belt-loop and back, an ocean

of ivory smashed by a coast
of red or blue or the hue

of the day, sharply enhanced,
because I wore glasses

that I didn’t need––fifteen
from Wal-Mart, dollars

I mean. My stare, though aged,
has not traveled far. This

morning I watched her, storming
and mad, shoving her under-

wear into a sack, followed by
shirts, then all of her books

and a grimace reserved
for what I’ve become, mistakes

I have made; and sad as it sounds,
I would ask for it back––

the protractor days,
uncomfortable lust, and why

I insisted on trying to love
a creature whose penchant

for resplendent lace
I would dream of for hours,

curled up in the shower.

editors note:

What we can’t call back becomes our growing. – mh clay

Simple Matters

featured in the poetry forum August 5, 2015  :: 0 comments

These are the days when your body feels
like a mound of meat stuck on thick
twin skewers or a bike trudging on
with two flat tires. Shifting your flesh
from one room to the next, you ponder
The Great Migration of six million people
and why you never learned in school
of the guys who just sat down and died
without thinking twice. Maybe in a movie,
a photograph, you saw them, yet only
through the stories of the living did you
witness the lives of the dead. Gone
are the ballgames, great steak dinners
hearts in trees with four initials, two
adjacent, welded together forever
or whatever that means. When I read
my poems to my parents, they look
down at the floor or into their hands
as if tucked within the cracks
of their skin, answers would appear:
answers to questions like Why bother
making the bed in the morning? Who
holds you at night when you sleep
alone? If I fix my dog, can I fix my life?
When my phone dies, do I die too?

The world is becoming only a place
for those with legs and transient hearts.

editors note:

Asking the right questions, making sense of the answers; not so simple (We welcome Scott to our crazy conclave of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Can I pay my rent in vinyl?

featured in the poetry forum April 19, 2015  :: 0 comments

Contrary to what you may have seen
in films by foreign directors with names
of French origin or Swiss or maybe not
foreign, perhaps Wes Anderson or someone
less boring, domestic, yet with a lauded sense
of symbolism; nevermind what you thought you once
overheard in a dingy café-bodega where the coffee cost
twice as much as next to plenty, tasted like you
should have been paid to drink it, which is ironic
and redeeming, I think it; but forget what you
may have read in a fem­-centric article addressing
cats and pizza; speak of Hunter S. Thompson not Emma
Watson, links to Tumblr, vintage cameras, vintage mindsets
yet still like-­minded, attuned to every modern cause
for concern––disparaging fracking, gentrification,
how militarized we are becoming, how militant
we must become in having to be the best-versed
person in every room while assuming the status
of most reliable resource on every facet of substance
deemed of value by whoever purchased a degree in drivel
or floral-­print dressmaking, all while procuring the ability
to palette-­out a tripel ale, doppelbock or a PBR. Drinking
home­brewed liquor from a homemade backpack, hemp,
reminiscent of a carry-­on catheter––your shoes can’t be leather,
not in today’s market. Yes, you surely saw them
at a darty (day­-party, Charlie) on an NYU fringe colony
in Brooklyn, where the kitschy quirky bars blast syncopated quasi­-beats
for tables full of cross­legged English majors, talks of antidepressants,
writers-­in­-residence, the air of heir in Jane Eyre, something French,
nouveau or nouvelle. Belles jambes, pouvons-­nous prendre
matching minimalist tattoos? Of course, that is, if you want to.

editors note:

Oh, to be so cool, new-school, nobody’s fool. Yes, I want to (I think, or better think twice). – mh

On Looking In

featured in the poetry forum January 28, 2015  :: 0 comments

A sweet semblance of maturation seeps
from the pores of a teenaged girl who,
only after the awkward exchange
of buying tampons from a CVS clerk
(a family friend), wonders if instances
of seemingly singular embarrassment
are shared elsewhere.

What of growing older?
Showering with colder nights,
singing songs of pompadoured idols
who are singing back, but not for her,
nor anyone she knows.
All this quickly manifests,
bleeds like leaked mascara
on a phony marble desk.

Tests taken and flunked
from evenings spent tasting
someone else’s brain,
defining passion as this
fallen angel who has feasted, too,
on the mortal fruits of fuck and fondle,
subscribed to the belief
that when carnality is homework,
algebra can occupy itself

I have known this brain only
to be a pale orchid,
a little lesion on plant-stem,
exasperated by seasons’ worsts:
a ceaseless summer heat,
winter snow that does not melt.
It is only between,
in the mild months
of clouds and tepid rain,
when pain is understood
as no longer singular,
but a pivot on which
we spend our spins,
and it is only after this
that we can graduate
to agelessness.

editors note:

Learning from lust to achieve a degree of agelessness. Ah, sweet school! – mh