Featured Poems

Circus

by on September 21, 2019 :: 0 comments

On the tightrope
of your condescension
I find myself
astonishingly nimble.

editors note:

Lofty makes loose. – mh clay

JAZZ SMOKE MADNESS

by on September 20, 2019 :: 0 comments

It was Monday night and I was out on the town
Reading some poems to the enthralled masses
As the magic takes hold, the weed tonight is strong
Leaving me just drinking beer as anything else
Would surely send me insane, unable to read
And no one wanted that, not tonight.

The show grooved on down with talk of old times
From one of the greatest old voices I can ever
Remember; Princess Margaret, Spike Milligan and
Dizzy Gillespie have never all featured in one piece
Before and I riffed along with Salt Peanuts as she
Sat reading her piece my mind delirious with the jazz.

When I got up to read I saw a few old faces dotted in
The crowd and so I began reading one from the first
Book after a London introduction to a New York bar
For a Brighton crowd and finally four poems later I
Was done and returned to the bar to carry on
Drinking, thankful that people seemed to like it.

At the end of the night I got waylaid and eventually
Found myself at the home of another poet, we talked
Shop, we talked football, the return of Timmy Cahill
And about our plans all whilst drinking and chain-
Smoking this insanity. I remember at one point
Shortly after arriving I managed to roll four one
After another and we passed them back and forth
Whilst drinking our high-strength lager before I
Nearly died of laughter, five whole minutes of out
Of control wailing, laughing at something I really
Can’t remember right now confirming to all that
The edge had now finally arrived and beyond,
Well who knows? Will it mean that my mind is well,
How can one say it, fucked?

editors note:

F’d, indeed. It’s enough to be it, let alone, say it. – mh clay

The Beast of Moonlight

by on September 19, 2019 :: 0 comments

My soul is gray like foam in a saucepan.
I pick up scattered socks, tights,
wish goodnight to my younger son,
check if the door is locked
to prevent the warty beast of moonlight
from finding our souls,
which remain unprotected till morning.
Now nothing can stop us from
romping on pink horses of dream
in rainbow marshes, but I still linger
like a Siberian tiger on an ice rink.
I cling to a book before going to sleep.
I put it down – the seconds of life melt
like sweet snow on the lips,
And I have already nearly melted.
But a sudden thought
yanks me out of the somnolent landscape.

A wild recollection
breaks into my mind like a burglar with a gun.
A small town, a nasty autumn, a bus, fields of stubble –
sutures are open,
but the threads are still there –
someone has removed the golden fetus of the sky.
She cried silently, hiding her face
in her wet hands, Medusa in a kerchief,
ashamed of her own withering eyes,
changing everything around not into stone,
but into a pulsing ulcer, into a diamond of shame.
The salty taste of tears.
Suffering is like a woman inside a marble block.
Knock-knock – she can’t sleep in there.
Where are you from?
Why did you come to me at this time of night?
I’m not a sculptor, and I’m not a vandal.

Another fragment of memory has attached itself to the first one:
a boy is alone at home late at night.
A chamber pot at the window. Heavy curtains.
Dim, sifted light of street lamps –
they look like black giraffes, and they are his best friends.
The dulcimer of loneliness whines slowly.
With such a sound, interns pull out teeth in a morgue. . .
But the waltzing swamps of sleep approach,
and the Creator drops pencils from His hands.
I hear a slight snoring, a rhythmic growl of the fridge.
A deep sigh in the heating pipes quickly fades,
and a green warty paw of the moon beast
gets out softly from behind the curtain…

– Dmitry Blizniuk

translated by Sergey Gerasimov from Russian

editors note:

What lurks behind YOUR curtains? – mh clay

Suffering is not a competition

by on September 18, 2019 :: 0 comments

There are no judges
who weigh one person’s grief
against another’s,
no trophies
for the heaviest burden,
no ribbons
for the most deserving despair.

Do not compare.
That others have survived
worse will only add guilt
but not lessen
your depression.

You must still pull
yourself out of the swamp
by your own hair,
declare
yourself healed.

There will be no spectators
applauding at the finish line,
no paparazzi snapping,
no journalists waiting for an interview.

Only you
will know
that you have made it,
with nothing to show
but your heart still beating.

– Agnes Vojta

editors note:

Selah! – mh clay

Soul is a Wasteland

by on September 17, 2019 :: 0 comments

Finger in my face
I would almost grab it
if I had the might to fight
but mouse is more house
less feeling than I care to admit
most days

Harsh words
scare my self-respect
right under the carpet
lives there with the dust mites
dead pieces of myself
maybe the rest will die too
while I wait for you
to be gentle with me
spirit always free

Tied to me must be
like dragging a dead leg behind you infection setting in
mottled skin I’m dying too
Mirror mirror face blue who’s the fairest
fair is
fare is owed to you
for carrying my blues
place to place
My soul a wasteland
desert sand through your fingertips
falls on parched lips
cry for summer seas, beach beers
cheers to the good times
You open your eyes to find… me
Not the headstrong
drive all night to get to you
sing song kids to sleep
deep in thought
fought for every minute of life Me

I buried her
in the dirt under every rug in the house
I have swept pieces of her
into the corners of children’s mouths
so they could laugh her into the wind breathe her in
My skeleton doesn’t live in closets
it sits in chairs
works bone grinding bone days
pays debts to make waves
in the desert sand

– Shelby Cross

editors note:

Inside and out, yes, be gentle. – mh clay

DRINK TEA

by on September 16, 2019 :: 0 comments

A savage beating
With a monkey wrench
A spine smashed in two
By a scaffold pole
And a mob waiting outside
All of them armed
With sticks bats and knives

Last night I dreamt
Of all of these things
And many more besides

But this morning
When I awoke
I found that nearly
Eight years had passed

Now –
I don’t want revenge
And I don’t have
A magic double-edged sword

All I want
Is to stop this mind thinking
That it understands
And from willing this fool
To do what its
Brief blossoms want

To eat this fresh peach
And to keep on eating it
Only

Until its shape
And its colour
Its skin and its taste
Become no more than a peach
And still no peach at all

Ha!

That’s all any fool dreams

editors note:

The beating and the balm, a fool’s dream. – mh clay

Ellington Lives, in Heaven, in Hell, on YouTube

by on September 15, 2019 :: 0 comments

Angels dance on piano keys
spontaneous, blinding
hither and yon, traversing black and white.
Perfection in motion.

The marriage of heaven and hell
gorgeous chaos, tumultuous harmony.

A horde of horns
leaps in,
a mad chase
call and response.

Angels dance
a garden
of forking paths
a circuitous maze
each twist, turn, zig, zag, shuffle, leap, pirouette
perfectly planned.

This heavenly choir
satanic convergence
cackling cantankerous conversation
howls from hell to the heavens
in devious delight.

Our hosts from high and low
romance the raw repressed
bounce and bubble
a cacophonous choir.

Rocking in Rhythm,
summoning us all
to heaven
and beyond.

editors note:

Proof! The devil’s music? Stolen from above. – mh clay