featured in the poetry forum March 3, 2023  :: 0 comments

There is no city like New Orleans.
Prisoners, bondservants, slaves
sent into swamps and hurricanes.
They threatened revolt
till France sent ninety
ladies of ill repute,
tended by Ursuline nuns
as marriage brokers,
calmed the city down,
thrust it into the pulsing
spicy stew it is now–
with Mardi Gras, cathedrals,
gators, ghost tours,
beignets, gumbo,
streetcar named Desire,
magnolias, Spanish Moss,
Willie Mae’s chicken,
Bananas Foster, turtle soup,
one-of-a-kind Dixie jazz,
Zydeco and Voodoo dreams.
Thanks To the ladies of ill repute—
I take my hat off.

editors note:

Behind every good civilization… – mh clay


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

When it is over, war
is like a sunken ship.
The waters flow over it
till the next ship
floats till it’s sunk,
and again forgotten.

Many years from now,
future students will get
a history assignment,
read about the Russian
invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
They will yawn and feel disgruntled,
perhaps behind in their work,
put if off, then read it
while headphone music
jumps boring lines off the page,
note that Putin deployed
over 20,000 soldiers
to their deaths, an uncounted
number of civilians massacred,
turn the page quickly
as it will probably
not be on the test.

editors note:

What we’re taught but never learn; doomed to repeat, repeat, repeat… – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum July 22, 2022  :: 1 comment

At every turn,
my mind will confront
my negative emotions—
fear, anxiety, jealousy—
who are like a bossy Aunt
who moved in
after she blew her life
and had to live with me,
nowhere else to go.

It won’t do any good
for my mind to stand firm
with crossed arms
and a withering glare,
and say things like:
“Get it together,
Use your head,
Wait to
see what happens,
or try to reason
with her
because she will
weep and scream
and declare
the worst could happen.

“Your dog might tear her leg again.”
“It most likely is cancer.”
“Your company could move overseas.”
“Probably your wife cheated.”

No matter how much your mind
tells her to pipe down,
she never will.

That bossy Aunt digs in, persists,
bound and determined
to make my life
as bad as it can be.

editors note:

Don’t let her in. Pull the shades, change the locks. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum April 8, 2022  :: 0 comments

Like a playing card
turned sideways,
a King or Jack,
as thin as invisible,
I see myself sometimes
as the card they pull
to bring the house down,
to miss the goal,
spoil the broth,
muck the pile,
screw the pooch.

build my stack,
kick me through,
stir my pot,
rake me up,
just pet me.

Try again.
Mercy thickens.

editors note:

Give to get, thicker life for all. – mh clay


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

Life is like a delicious piece
of hard candy
popped in your mouth
and sucked and sucked
until it becomes smaller and smaller
as your teeth crack the last thin piece
and you swallow it at the end.

editors note:

Increase longevity, lick languorously. – mh clay


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

Where does a heart go
when it cries out?
Does the heart hunt
for what makes it weep,
cry so hard it leaves home?

Search for a lost
spouse, child, pet,
roam the empty world
try to find what
will never be again.
Is finding nothing
the only solace
that can stop the tears
and bring us home?

At home, the rooms
look the same
but a stark absence
sits in every corner,
immovable until time
makes it disappear.

editors note:

The missing thing leaves a permanent hole filled with time. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum March 8, 2021  :: 0 comments

Thoroughbreds blister to the top
of the stretch, heading for home.

So are we.
We hit the bend of the turn,
aged decrepitude looms.

Rounding off a full life,
headed for home.

Not sure what is home.
Not sure how long
the stretch extends.

Finish strong.

editors note:

… but, also last. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum September 28, 2020  :: 1 comment

You treat my heart like a cat treats a mouse.
taking your own sweet time.
Until you pounce,
leave a partly eaten heart
in some corner.
Sweet, sickly purr.
Off again for another.

editors note:

Lover’s lament, mouse’s demise. Damn capricious cats. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum March 3, 2020  :: 0 comments

Open the door.
Who might be there?
It is the stuff of restless dreams.
Recall the Grimm tale
sisters who
spat vipers or
spoke jewels.
Go inside anyway.
See who is sitting on the sofa.
Stare back at the pain.
Open your mouth.
Say it.
Even if ashes fall on the floor,
Together you can sweep them up.

editors note:

Request or bestow, it’s good for the soul. – mh clay


featured in the poetry forum July 8, 2019  :: 0 comments

What if all the stores
collapsed into rubble
hauled away?
Or disappeared into the sky
like some concrete Rapture,
all the children left behind
no way to buy new toys
no need to wheedle parents?

Children look at playthings
in their homes,
broken, rusted, boring.

What for
the children of Eden
had Adam and Eve stayed,
eschewed the apple?

Skip rocks in a stream,
swing on a tree branch,
fruit wars,
count the stars,
love their pets,
outrace the four rivers.

editors note:

God’s toys, toy gods; who plays with whom? – mh clay