July 10, 2021  :: 0 comments

A dream where I never felt closer to my dad

Buttoned egg white wedding suit,
men in a dream, same shapes except at malformed centers.
Father and son speaking as they never have—in secrets

to no music at home, just static noise through walls.
No one else lived here but we built in the deep rot.
He gave guts but this boy unmade his own heart.

Everyone’s lived happy except for men with my last name.
In one another, men see what’s saddest in ourselves and hold on—
a father crying for women he’s loved; his son not knowing how to.

Mourners of dead love, moments on water seeping through drywall,
on winds floating names tied to skies overlapping lamentations,
nouns dreamed to verbs that don’t make us men but means we are.

His teeth unroot at spelling out women never spoken of.
This is my body, son, see it fall to pieces.
The child becomes the parent’s fissuring secrets.

Father, son, and holes in enamel that time cratered,
too close to old names never freed of teeth,
a list of nothing but dreams others have had

drags the ceiling down to bodies as unspoken words collapse
shingles that only know us and could only keep us covered
to hold up so many secrets built inside its body.

I, Myself, and Our Shotgun

July 10, 2021  :: 0 comments

I rarely drove in high school, Dad didn’t trust me to not hit
others like he hit me.

Shotgun with one another in search of land
to never live on or off of but we’d be home before stars.
Vast dark landscape was just cow shit where light stopped.

When is it too old for child abuse,
When is it too old to be pathetic?
When was too young for it to not be our fault?

I buckled up my young ‘un, said let’s ride across land, boy.
He had questions I couldn’t catch off the west coast but I was
a vacationing southerner Biblically raged there wasn’t more, like
a meaty husk hanged as divers’ wrists and fists sogged dock wood.

Not for what I did or where we went or who he was,
two thousand miles into America, I started hitting.
I alone was there and he alone had it coming.

Roots held teeth, but one punch wasn’t enough,
as we both didn’t believe our pain.
Another came, a passed down double-tap.

Tasting old young blood, Why are we doing this?
Because we weren’t alone until now. Because we don’t have a home.
Just one another. Just one… Can’t we talk this over? Could we?

We could say we love one another. Then his hand rolled
into a rock dug out of earth’s high mileage face
to crack grayed corners of peripheral vision.

One whispered, one screamed a name that couldn’t be our own.
Hands off the wheel, without sin we cast stones to kill,
and we didn’t need to kiss to taste our blood.

The Life and Death of Dave Adamson

June 12, 2021  :: 0 comments

A scream runs through the street. A young couple sees what they’ll talk about until they’re old: a time, together, when they saw a body on a sidewalk. The couple hold one another and their breaths until police and emergency services arrive. No one offers a “Poor bastard” as those living gather to see where life goes. There’s something about …

Dead Water Parks Make Me Wet

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

Water park parking lots aren’t for church buses,
they’re dried urban gardens for starved grackles.
Clouds split sun same as children who flushed themselves
clean with water slide enemas.

No laughter’s missed, it’s the loss of the loss of humiliation.

Red eyed burdens, we hope to carry sunburns again,
slide tubes to inhale waves and rise to see spotted blue sky.

Who knew without water white clouds could be apocalyptic.

What a way to start and end wet in the sun’s teeth shaking bodies:
Suits not stuck to skin of no girls not swimming just not to be seen,
no overweight boys in white tees hoping to never not be invisible.

Children aren’t allowed to be anything but alone.

It’s not how many kids have drowned, it’s those who lost opportunity
of diving in and floating up dead to be dragged across asphalt
brightened by smudgy church bus windshield sun reflection prayers.

Think of all this and ask forgiveness.

Summer! Please come back!

We won’t be better but we’ll be different. We’ll be desperate
to see constellations with chlorine eyes, what came and went.
Every inch of skin drips, lungs deflate, eyes sting
to see life at the bottom of this,
speaking in bubbles that if we live happy for much longer,
we’ll die down here.

editors note:

Remember, “church bus windshield sun reflection prayers” get to god first; but don’t forget your sunscreen. – mh clay

Burned Hallelujah Popcorn

featured in the poetry forum December 23, 2020  :: 0 comments

With no goddamn words, thank God baby Jesus won’t come this year.
Wise folk don’t travel, the North Star is at war with all bodies
sick of holding our prophecies because we dared to drag them down to us.
Now what the hell can we believe in? No stars, only wars.

We heard rumors of starlit wars and viruses, but neither was born in movie theaters
for a Christmastime miracle of militarized nostalgia on a giant screen.
The last movie too many saw in a butter-slick seat was Star Wars
trapping all our lives in sneeze wakes, sequels, phone text crawls.

All needed to be saved from sin but every moment was disappointment,
pressing a straw over tongues, not sharing a sentence even though
next year we’d never see a stranger’s set of spontaneous teeth.
All air in-between us was toxic but we’re all box office poison’s grandchildren.

Our world’s made art out of killing aliens, but other people?
They kill everything.
We’ve known this but now it’s all we know. And you’ll kill them too.
We used to just kill lights for stars caught in humankind’s last frame.

Stars pulse and hiss, don’t speak, but we give them stories.

Last Christmas, in a galaxy far, far away, something went outside in snowfall,
closed all its eyes to see how snow tastes, if it could be different far, far away
as seasons shift, colors drain from a savior’s lips dead to the taste of a virus
from others standing under a solo sun and feeling the force of their own dead.

Now in our universe, we see so much but not past this moment.
Seasons will come and go but stars won’t, neither will wars,
and none of us will live to count them all as we look ahead
to live funerals on tiny computer screens while stars war with
the deepest night finding us a million years from now, far, far away.

editors note:

‘Tis the Season (not the sequel) for peace (not a piece of the box office). Let the popcorn pass. – mh clay

Heaven Is the Definition of a Ghost Town

featured in the poetry forum September 13, 2020  :: 0 comments

The first time poetry was read in church, a youth minister
asked if I knew Nine Inch Nails as if they were Christ’s love
and read a confiscated The Downward Spiral lyric booklet.

I remember evangelical sweat pits, a trimmed gold goatee,
Big Red ruby sunglass lenses. Did he see the whole world
through blood?

Reading “Heresy.”
“Someone dreamed up a god and called it Christianity.
Your God is dead and no one cares.”

Broken, given to a dead god, he asked: Tell me what you think.
I picked palms for splinters but saw donut crumbs and Dr. Pepper sugar.
Who could swim with holes in hands? Maybe we all will walk on water.
Like music, nails didn’t kill Jesus. They helped Him hang a little longer.
All I could think was that Jesus doesn’t need prayers, he needed prayer.
He prayed, died alone. He prayed, God ignored. No one cared.

Repeating “Heresy.”
“Someone dreamed up a god and called it Christianity
Your God is dead and no one cares.”

Eyes all red, he spoke again, whole heart on his tongue.
“Would anyone die for this?”
Red shades, he wanted to crawl up a cross to show off
it’s easy to die for sin songs and hear music of God’s silence.
Indifference, that’s God’s music-just as good as dead.

Repeatedly reading “Heresy,”
someone dreamed up god and called it you die, no one cares.
Maybe he cared to keep words to begin a religion
of industrial music to bet on and beat on a dead horse
to bring on doomsday as music already plays.

No one cares. Do you care? Does God?

Someone dreamed up God is dead but God never bled.
Maybe Jesus knows and knows He could have returned
but now He’s in Heaven, as useless as all dead
suffering God’s songs all about Himself.

Maybe Jesus traces unheard prayers into hands, deep, wide, and holy,
listens to Nine Inch Nails, knows Trent Reznor’s haircut was a miracle,
misses times when water was wine while angel choirs sing so loud
prayers die at Heaven’s doorstep like day-old newspapers and remembers
when people gathered and listened but He had no songs because
He wasn’t dead enough for music to speak for Him.

Maybe Jesus remembers when He was heresy,
when all around him were bodies full of blood
before ascending to dead ghosts we pretend don’t watch us
and thinks He could have sung that someone cared enough
to dream Him up, to send a dove, but kept silent.
On nine inch nails, His body bled for a world in red.

editors note:

Coffee, Bun, or Buttered Toast! (Read another of Tyler’s mad missives, posted on his poetry page, it’s about color recognition. Check it out!) – mh clay

Years of a Red Bird

featured in the poetry forum September 13, 2020  :: 0 comments

“Why did you paint two red birds?”
“So I can see and know love.
And you never see a blue bird with a red bird.”

A creation story written on broken wings is
“No ones sees a red bird with a blue bird.”

I envision flight when you say that you don’t see.
I imagine love singing impossible songs for you.

Hearts are kaleidoscopes, but not bodies
of red birds and blue birds in patterns together.

Tall branches don’t keep hounds below at bay.
Where there are thin bones there are easy breaks.

But now I live far from stained hues, now I see
and know love as a blue bird perches my window.
I wake to find different color feathers on pillows.

editors note:

Colorblindness is a blessing. – mh clay

Trash Vampires

June 27, 2020  :: 0 comments

Midday bartending is witnessing drinkers begin, then see them end before your night even starts. Ending shift drinks are something to hold to, same as a nurse in aged green scrubs holds to her deep yellow beer. She daydreams, day drinks, and has for two hours. She’s looked towards me but far into her own past. Or into what happens …

How Close Can Your Shadow Be to Mine?

April 1, 2020  :: 0 comments

Alcohol will still be everywhere but soon no one can buy any from bars. “You can go home whenever you want, just lock up by 9,” is the last thing my boss says before disappearing out the door. “And wash your hands. We’re filthy.” He wouldn’t be here for the end of an era’s closing time. Our old vices don’t …

Look Down From the Night Sky

December 24, 2019  :: 0 comments

Around narrow trunks, thoughtlessly spread lights wrap bare trees reaching towards the end of the year. Etched initials on bark are all that exists, nothing lives in the trees. No shadows cover main street’s potholes as Christmas steps dry out on downtown asphalt, the only audience for strung lights atop closed businesses. By the nativity scene between a Spanish-speaking Baptist …