Dear Sir:

featured in the poetry forum January 28, 2023  :: 0 comments

Okay, I’ll go up in your
Master of the Universe

if you’ll come with me
on my Meals on Wheels

You want me to see
our little blue marble.
I just want to see your face.

editors note:

A reasonable request, as far as I can see. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum November 2, 2021  :: 0 comments

We say “passed”
as if they’d tossed a football.

Some use “transitioned”
so you imagine a Star Trek
transporter beam.

It doesn’t help.

Lately, it seems
not a month goes by

until I hear myself tell the kids,
“You want a reliable career?
They’re called funeral directors now.”

I need to get out, get on with it.
Live on in their name, as we say.

But it does get lonely in here.

Like when you think of a joke
that only they’d get
and look around to finger
some trinket left behind.

editors note:

When the passed stay and stay. – mh clay

Paired Viruses

featured in the poetry forum August 9, 2020  :: 0 comments

A virus can’t act alone.
Needs your participation.

Just a burr of contagion
sucked in on the air you breathe,

that finds a weak link, a chink in a cell,
there incubates until the fever burns.

Clots your brain, swells your lungs,
inflames the hearts of children
too young to understand.

With this one, we have carriers
who infect others but never suffer themselves
and super-spreaders who sicken whole crowds
as if spewing from megaphones.

How it preys on the weak, the under-served,
those frayed at the end of their rope.

One thing, though, some recover.
Yet speak of its tortures with awe.
How it knelt on their throats and chests
until they gasped their mama’s name.

A virus is a frightful thing.
A virus can’t act alone.

editors note:

What was once so common, these days uncommon is. Non-sense. – mh clay

The Spring of Our Confinement

featured in the poetry forum April 30, 2020  :: 0 comments

The neighbor’s cherry tree
a mushroom cloud of pink.
How lovely this spring
In the suburbs!

Awaken queasy at 3
all our homes drifting boats
on a sea of greening lawn
over which we shout

Like thieves we mask
for dinghy excursions
to the islands,
fret over sneezes,
dwindling savings,
wonder if that friend who died…
in winter?

The kids are all home.
It could almost be a holiday.

Bluebirds dart about
hunting likely niches
for their broods.

editors note:

Ahoy, Mateys! (If you’re still trying to add up the numbers from April, read another mad missive from Tony on his page, “April by the Numbers.” Check it out!)- mh clay

April By the Numbers

April 30, 2020  :: 0 comments

N-95 if you care to survive.
The cruelest month, indeed.
For Covid-19.
Contagious 3 days before you’re sick
and maybe 2 weeks after that.
The model said 1-2 million dead.
Then 100k then 60?
No 60k by May.
We all need somebody to lean on.
Coronavirus the 19th.
How many sacks fit in a reefer truck?
Zoom meeting at 9 o’clock.
14 days in quarantine.
The Dow fell by 1/3.
24 million out of work.
Presser at 5 o’clock.
N-95? (He put it on upside down.)
350 billion + 350 billion and still where is the check?
Quadruple the numbers from China.
Must fall 2 weeks in a row if you want to flatten the curve.
To get the R number down to 1 or less.
Canned beans limit of 2.
1 teaspoon of bleach in 12 ounces of water is what the man prescribed.
N-95, anybody got an N-95?
Mostly they made love from 6 feet away.
18 months to vaccine.
6 to the election.
That lady was Patient 0.
Uganda has 1 ventilator.
5-fold increase in cyber-attacks.
Fuck the N-95, wear this bandana like a cowboy thief.
1.8 million so far.
In Europe 1/2 the dead lived in care homes.
But the little boy was just 3.

They’re called numbers because they’re numbing.

Well, how about this:

Already in April more people have fallen than all the cherry petals on our lawn.


featured in the poetry forum October 31, 2019  :: 0 comments

Feeling contrary
that night at the observatory
we looked down instead
found a latch to a room
where the projector and its timer
played the ghosts that stalk our woods
the speaker that whoops
its echo in the trees
that busloads come to see and hear
with gifts and totems and tufts of hair
the musty place so long abandoned
its makers lost in the myst.

I said, “It’s all a lie!
What a total scam!
We have to let people know!”

But you shot me that look —
Yes, that look was a gift that said,
“No, why would you? Leave it so.”
Wiped away grime at the skylight
to see them twirl and marvel
their lanterns like bobbing fireflies.

But no, I must have dreamed that.
Went back later and could not find the door.
In the dark, though, an image played on my face,
pilgrims said I seemed inspirited, they touched me.

So then I grasped your reticence.
You don’t remember, do you?
But, of course, it was a dream!

And you said, with a shrug,
as you turned down the path,
“In the end, what does it matter
if this pageant in the woods
is just some artist’s cartoon?
If the only gods we know
are simply handmade projections?

I mean, after all, if it serves?”

editors note:

Scary or exculpatory? It was an image of the thing not the thing itself. Boo-lieve it! – mh clay

Blackberry Missive

featured in the poetry forum September 24, 2019  :: 0 comments

July afternoon in Virginia
our father skips lunch
to stride the dry pasture
in work brogues
to that thicket
where blackberries
sprout like purple
polka dots and
wades into the briars
and bees until
sweated out
with knuckles
and forearms bleeding
he’s filled two gallon
buckets. Why?

Because we love cobbler.

One of the things
the war took out of Daddy
you’d have to guess
was trust in saying much.
So what if he never
told me that thing,
I mean what’s the worth
in words when you
can taste it like that?

editors note:

Here’s to “that thing” however we express it. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum April 15, 2019  :: 0 comments

We thought, I guess, that we could pretend it was all just a tv reality show on a station we didn’t get. Where they jack boys (and girls) up on 5-Hour Energy shots, wrap them in Kevlar and canvas, and drop them in the desert with weapons out of space movies to rampage or whatever. Where some nerd in a silo in Charlottesville steers a joystick swabbed with steri-wipes, what the President calls surgical strikes, which just means somebody else does the cleanup. The frakking channel, the oil shale channel, the hole in the ocean floor channel. The mystery series: bee deaths, whale beachings, backyard coyotes, polar bear strandings, fire ants, the waning of butterflies. To us it’s senseless: the campus gang rapes, the trigger-happy cops, the arsonists, students with automatic rifles gone rogue, the suicides, the cancers buying radiologists condos. We buy better locks, rig cameras in the garage, work two jobs when we can find them. We do get that the circle of those we can trust dwindles by the year. Old farmer’s sayings we’ve forgotten or snort at, beer bubbling from our snouts. Things like, chickens come home to roost, reap what you sow, red sky at morning, the whole is greater…

editors note:

And, you can lead a horse… Wait, where’s the water? (We welcome Tony to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay


March 9, 2019  :: 2 comments

“They tell me I shot myself in the chin, shot somebody else, too, but I don’t think that’s right. What happened was I fell off a fruit wagon.” That’s Dr. Wagner. He’s a pharmacist, had his own small town pharmacy out in the Valley for years, seemed fine, until this happened. I’m his occupational therapist. It’s my job to determine …


featured in the poetry forum January 25, 2019  :: 0 comments

I’ve tried to imagine trees.
Thin giants with boisterous heads
mirrored in down-reaching roots
and filmy almost translucent
solar panels unfurled along their limbs.

A protective layer called bark
sometimes scaly or it could be smooth as skin.
And their only movement was in growth
each year of the sun adding a ring of width
some meters to their up yearn
to the sky and down stretch in the nourishing soil.*

They lived as long as (some longer than) we do.
Cradled all sorts of mythical beasts – beetles,
bees, a quick thing called a squirrel, even those
with feathery wings and twiggy toes.**

But let’s focus just now on the one
tree and then another near it.
Some say they spoke among themselves
feeding oxygen to the sky their aspiration
a gift of breath to us oh here we go again.

Why do all my musings come back
to this our crime? To learn too late
what we might have known all along
that recollection cannot match the
thing remembered. That death
comes slowly until it doesn’t. That
more goes with the rustling of leaves
than their undeciphered whisper.
I can almost imagine a tree.

*Next week’s imaginative reflection.

**See annual celebration of Earthian Nature.

editors note:

What’s concrete now, becomes concept later; when later is too late? That’s subversive! – mh clay