Five Poems by Clayton Spencer

Everyone Is Mad And Sexy

I poke my head through
the doorway and take one last
look – a golden moon

sticking its belly
out, so the whole neighborhood
can see. It is dark

inside the house, as
dark as the other side of
that moon,

surely. There is no 
poetry in anything 

which does not love the sun

as you do, so much
that you want a tattoo, want
to carry it with

you when you push off
in your little boat. And if
you never return – 

suntanned, letting your
tea go cold – I will wait
by the door with your

kettle. I will sigh
deeply on the shore, the sea.
But now, tonight, I

cover your feet with
soft blankets. Like the moon, I 
have borrowed my light.


What was I thinking
that made me
think of myself
that way?

The mind is a cave.
We are on a boat tour,
headed straight in.
Everyone else

brought a life
preserve where’s
ours? Did you leave it
in the car?

What if something
happens? We don’t
end up crossing the river.
We end up

living on the shore of the one side,
stranded, waving at the oarsman
as he shuttles his customers
toward dawn.

And that’s our fate.
What then?


You conquered the beast. What now?
You wrung the night out, blew a kiss
to every star. Was it not enough?
Were you not left standing
exactly where you’d ask to be left standing
this whole time? The geese above you,
doing what they know to do,
look down with eyes of softer gods
on us who choose to stay. They don’t know
a thing about the things you don’t know
a thing about and they don’t give a 
damn. Therein lies the message
of more than one story about a fig
and a man, a man with his tongue
held out in his hands, his hands
reaching toward the death of a fig.
And he will not throw a funeral, memorial,
or wake. He will not even throw
a small party for the family and a selection
of other bereaved. Instead,
he runs to the city, speaks loudly of conquest,
and the people say, Look at the geese!


Wake up, little soul,
claw my chest;
do a facemask.

The simplicity
of you covered in mud
reminds me of something– 

maybe the weeds
pushing through moldy bricks
outside my window

which I thought to say
were blooming.
I thought a lot

of pesky thoughts
back then. I pinched them
to let out the air. But

whenever I heard
your pecking voice,

like any good crow,
I shut my eyes

to listen. 

We Are Immortal, Our Work Is Done

(Erasure/Collage of the printed bulletin from the memorial service of the poet’s father, Michael Spencer.)

Clayton Spencer is a poet, a reader, and a worker. He holds a BA in English from the University of Kentucky. His poems have appeared in Appalachian Review, Woodwasp by Painted Door Press, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Oneida, Kentucky.