Featured Poems


by on September 26, 2021 :: 0 comments

That morning he lay at the bottom of the stairs
Twisted, broken, and released
Discovered by his wife at the end of the service

That week they came to the house
Eating fried chicken, beans, and bacon
Green Jello salad, tuna rice and Velveeta
Remembering the good things about his life

At the viewing the funeral director
Apologized beforehand
And shuffled off to arrange the flower arrangements

On the way to the cemetery
They drove through a long, flat swamp
Passing the hearse as
A grandson flew over in a plane
Late, but still there in the Spirit

The cemetery was peaceful
The Balm of Cavalry
And wheeling the casket over
The spongy ground
Someone wondered if the casket was long enough
For so tall a man
So devout a Christian man
A man of the Church his whole life
Loved by his family
A great example to us all
A man who beat his wife
And knocked her teeth out
A man who whipped
His daughter with a belt
A man who was a lawyer
And stole money from his clients
A man who prayed unceasingly
And was saved by Grace

The preacher,
A short, portly fellow with grey hair
And size 7 loafers
Said he did not have to guess
Did not have to wave a magic wand
Did not have to click his heels

That he knew
That we knew
That this man was in Heaven
And that he had entered into the
Joy of his Lord

editors note:

So, what do you know? – mh clay

The Paragons Meet the Jesters

by on September 25, 2021 :: 0 comments

Three kinds of people would steal my music:
the drug addict who sells it for drugs,
the music lover who sells it to a record shop
or adds it to their own collection,
and the person who wants it because
It’s mine and they want to steal something
I love that’s not part (or all) of my body
but part of my soul. The term
record shop signals vinyl, not a clunky 78
but a 45 disc such as I’d seen on a wall
at Swingin Slim’s in a subway arcade off
Times Square. I bought the Swallows’
It Ain’t the Meat It’s the Motion, took it home
and up in my room with the door closed
danced to its jumpy rhythm, and the
Dominoes’ Tenderly with Jackie Wilson
on lead. Eyes closed I listened seeing Judy
Hayman’s long face close to mine,
enraptured in her brunette beauty and
Jackie’s strong smooth voice. The thief
took that from me because I’m me
alone in a room looking out at windows
at green treetops and part of a gray river
that curves like an hourglass hip.
If they wanted even more they’d take an LP,
say, the Paragons Meet the Jesters.
They wouldn’t sell it so they could stick
a needle in an arm in a gas station rest
room, but because it’s mine, like that part
in R Kelly’s Slow Dance, “Let the record spin
Round and round,” a 45. Judy and I, she
taller by two inches, cling to its melodies
out on the floor in the school cafeteria.

editors note:

The lowest thievery; stealing memories. (We welcome Pete to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Dark Secrets of the Concert Hall

by on September 24, 2021 :: 0 comments

The piano is afraid of the cello.
It does not know why but it is.

The drums exist in their own world.
The horns, close by, waiver in loyalty,

longing for the violins and violas,
but knowing the brass section is exiled

to a land of greater noise.

The conductor sees all,
but ignores as much as possible

such discord in practice and concert.

It is her job to make all rise above
the petty squabbles,

insecurities, rivalries, foolishness
of so many instruments

assembled for a purpose,
greater than their own,

and lead them, as best she can,
in finding a harmony

greater than the sound
of so many individuals

so near to each other’s throats.

editors note:

Well, tickle my tympani, there’s enough tension there to put a “t” in Eroica. – mh clay

Anal Corporate Babies

by on September 23, 2021 :: 0 comments

(contribution by Robert Ragan)

You have to sort your load on camera
don’t tell customers we’re in a pandemic
you can’t call it harassment if the weird old man gropes you
that guy with the gun tucked in his pants is just as scared as any unarmed employee
never mind he doesn’t have a holster
don’t worry about him
worry about yourself
we need documentation that you work here, even though we know you already do
the burden of proof is on you
we need documentation you own your website
there was a perusal the work is in the public domain for free
do you have permission to publish it?
It is my site, my company,
But does everyone else know? Did they provide you official documentation?
Your contracts don’t count
Your incident report of on-the-job injury doesn’t comply
We know you worked those hours on the clock
But you weren’t technically scheduled
Stop calling it “harassment and abuse” just because someone was having a bad day and wanted to fight you in the parking lot
Don’t call it a fascist coup
Don’t call it anything
You should’ve said “have a nice day”
Even though he walked toward you threateningly and flicked a cigarette at you
He swore and threatened but you shouldn’t have walked toward him and threatened him back
Before you quit
Fill out these forms
They need to be done
Corporate needs these
Yet they still have a third party send out official exit surveys
A guy at amazon gets an email from his boss two doors down who got an email from district who got an urgent memo from regional who got a dead to rights message from corporate by some guy yelling with his pants down thumping his chest in the board room
the grunt running from drones races down an aisle with a black magic marker
he’s got to cross out all the offensive parts in the book you just ordered
fuck that guy

editors note:

It ain’t personal if it’s filled out in triplicate. – mh clay


by on September 22, 2021 :: 0 comments

A flurry of footloose word-armies,
unleashed in makeshift assemblies,
impress at first blush. On jelling
for gravitas, one realizes, empty
words leave us unfurnished.

The familiarity of promise is like
an earworm. Takeoff on truism?
I wish I could urge them to hustle
with a new hook, bunko with a buss.
Lure me with unwonted lies.

editors note:

If you’re gonna put lipstick on that pig, it needs to be a good kisser. – mh clay

Beginning of the Lunar Year

by on September 21, 2021 :: 0 comments

At one point I thought I knew
but that was long ago. More recently
I’ve taken to reading Dilbert who looks out
from his thin but colorful frame
of an office that could be anywhere. He stays energized
and in the groove by keeping a list of what he’s got to do:
taking private messages off his voice mail,
riding waves with co-workers.
That livens the whole affair
and maintains him in ways he thought impossible before.

Then she called. My evening’s looking up.
There will be thunder in the reaches,
some humorous negotiations over wine,
alternatives will be presented, claims adjusted,
a new accounting will be made.
I’m enthralled by the prospect.
I can see it now: I make smoke signals,
look for responses, offer a prayer
as if this were the beginning of the lunar year.

– Dale Cottingham

editors note:

When love is the objective, it’s moonlight over megabytes. – mh clay


by on September 20, 2021 :: 0 comments

And what if dying is like
that time I got out of school early
because I had an appointment
and I pushed open the heavy doors
and walked out into the day
and it was a beautiful spring day
or a late winter day that smelled like spring
and if it was fall it was early fall
when it’s all but technically summer
and there was a whole world going on out there
and it had been going on out there the whole time
that I was stuck inside with time
and teachers and rules and equations and parsed sentences
but now here I was among the tribe
of the free and I could go this way or I could go that way
or I could just sit down right here on this bench
and look around at all the freedom
that was mine and also the work crew’s
breaking for lunch beneath their ladders and also the woman’s
pushing her stroller along the sidewalk and also the man’s
walking his small dog and smoking a cigarette
and it belonged to the cars whooshing by with a sound like
the wind in the trees and the wind in my hair
and the wind all around me and inside me
and also above me chasing the clouds running free
and suddenly there was my mother
looking somehow a little different
in all her freedom and all my freedom
until she rolled down her window and waved
to come–now–hurry
because I had an appointment
which felt like a real buzzkill
and I briefly considered turning around
and walking away from her
and going off on my own somewhere
to be alone and free for a little longer
or maybe forever
but then I realized there was nowhere for me to go
except home

editors note:

Dying to get home… – mh clay