Two Poems by Bernard Clay

A micro essay from Ornamental grass

You call me Fescue, Bermuda, or even Kentucky Bluegrass like I’ve been over here all along 

but like you, I’m just a feudal remnant haphazardly broadcast across dispossessed lands.

The colonizer’s blueprint, a rolled-out carpet of familiar Eurasian green ahead of your arrival. 

Savagely replacing all the native big Bluestem stands, and Gamagrasses and Switchgrasses that 

multiculturally bunched across the savannah with my sun-burnable blades of homogeneity which 

collapse with every frequenting drought with my shallow roots that shed off millennia of spongy topsoil 

and retain no moisture with every growingly intense storm. I was that scout who softened this land for 

your ancestor’s conquest.

Maybe that’s why now you spend 3 to 6 hours a week worshipping me. Listening to the putter of horse 

powered piston-popping zero-turn sermons. Suppressing any attempts of the natural and the diverse

to supplant me with your cultish ceremonies of petro-fertilizing baptisms and routine mass 

circumcisions at that front-yard church of the perpetually pruned and pristine holy lawns of your 

fathers. Unaware of your deification of me, or otherwise, you would call me something else.


white noise

gridlocked steel belted needles crackle over vinyl rutted roads 

spun all across this scrubbed terra turntable 

who’s phlebotomized fluids propel us

hissing out clouds of atmospheric shrink wrap 

as we’re replay through these predefined loops 

involuntary amplifiers stuck in 400 yearlong destiny manifest loop

scratching from one blacktop track of interchangeable box stores

and cloned homes to the next 

that all hum numbingly edifying edison’s design 

lit up by the cooked petrified guts of disemboweled mountains 

this wobbly warped disc of existence’s droning cacophony

of “civility” deafens and mute us 

until they demolish the whole record and flip it 

for a new set of tunes for us to consume

but outside of there

where white tails compose

improvised meandering trails

or in another time

when we could hear 

river’s and creek’s bust rhymes

and our naked feet

bong beat the packed dirt

with our heart thumps

as metronomes

and mycelium animating

chestnuts, ash, and white oaks

to use their leaves

to sample wind

pushing through 

the hollers and the gorges 

forming heavy baselines

booming in our chest

comingling intricately

with the red bellied woodpecker’s belt 

with the white throated sparrow’s

melodic song

all churn together 

to make a soundtrack of the universe

a constant ambient music 

we were once a part of 

and still can be 

Bernard Clay is a Kentucky native who grew up in Louisville. He has spent years developing a deep appreciation of the state's unique natural and urban areas. Bernard earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Kentucky Creative Writing Program and is a member of the Affrilachian Poets collective. His work can be found in various journals and anthologies. He currently lives on Scorpion Hollow Farm in eastern Kentucky with his herbalist partner Lauren, founder of Resilient Roots, where he homesteads and continues writing. English Lit (Swallow Press, 2021) is his first poetry collection.