Tag Archives | John Grey

Step Garden by John Grey

Photo by Ernest Porzi on UnsplashThe slope is steep but cultivated:
olive and racemose carob trees,
primrose cyclamen nodding at their feet;
at the bottom, lemon trees
sipping tartness from the sea;
farther up, Spanish chestnuts,
fruit rattling in the breeze,
limbs swishing like horse tails.
A narrow trail snakes its way
through thick shadow
to low cut brush
where light bursts large.
My breath scores lemon
and salt and oil and legume.
I walk the length and back again
with you beside me,
like we’re hiking a scented
soft moment in ourselves.
With nervous lips,
I place a hungry garden
on your mouth’s sweet slopes,
for you to prune,
to fertilize.

About the Author: John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

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Therapy by John Grey

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

She’s a girl
who spends most of her life
lying flat on her back
like an upturned palm
that’s begging for
some of luck’s spare change.

She regards her room
as a kind of coffin
for those not quite dead.
Which makes the house
a mausoleum,
the entire surrounds,
a graveyard-to be.
And her parents, one brother,
one sister, make for
some jowl-faced undertakers.

Yet there’s always the window.
Her eyes aren’t disabled at least.
And she can only look up.
The moon may be as useless as she is.
But stars light their far fires on cue.
They get such brilliant notions.
And her imagination isn’t paralyzed either.
It has such legs at night,
it can go anywhere.

Her body’s as dead as old boots.
But something of her is alive and free.
Folks whisper how the therapy’s
going as well as can be expected.
And that’s without knowing
what the true therapy is.

About the Author: John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Mockingbird by John Grey

Sure I know it’s a forged song
but that doesn’t stop me listening.

It’s a snatch of titmouse, a little ambulance,
some Sinatra through a window,
and the opening bars of Fur Elise.

That’s not a bird singing
from the chimney-top
but the world’s first sampler.

Like me,
it has no tune of its own,
must borrow, steal,
and hope the mishmash
is unrecognizable to its source.

Out of bed I get,
drink coffee as the commercials say,
kiss my wife on my cheek
as my father did my mother before me.
I shower for no reason
other than I always do.
I wear what my job demands.

Off I go into the world,
whistling something
I must have heard
somebody hear somewhere.

About the Author: John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

The Blackout by John Grey

By day, Ted has much to say on any subject,
especially what’s in the newspapers.
Damn unions, he snarls. Damn government.
At night, his tongue retreats,
his head diverts the total darkness
by remembering this and that.
Gloria’s sunbathing. Ray’s in swimming.
Dave’s out fishing.
Gloria’s as thin as she’d like to be.
Ray can dive to the bottom, then float to the top,
breaking the surface with a gulp that snares half the air.
Dave claims to have reeled in a whale.
He just hopes that the sun doesn’t burn,
that the water is warm,
that the real fish do bite eventually.
But come the morning, it’s right back into politics.
The mailman gets an earful.
His neighbor knows everyone he hates
but no one he loves.
But then another night
and Ray’s swimming towards a lighthouse
and doesn’t that lighthouse look like Gloria
and what’s Dave going to do
but avoid the rocks thanks to Gloria’s light
and maybe even go after the schools of fish
that Ray is splashing in his direction.
Another day, this time the man
from the gas company cops the earful.
And then night and Gloria’s skinny and brown.
She’s lying on the shore of a lake.
Ray’s in swimming of course.
And Dave is salivating over the fish that leap out of the water,
so close he could reach out and grab them.
“Look, “says Gloria. “Here comes Ted”
Ray dog-paddles, looks in the direction she’s pointing.
Dave turns his head away from the dancing trout.
Ted crashes through the peacefulness
cussing out Democrats and Republicans equally.
Thank God they’ve finally fixed the power, he says.
First to them. Then finally just to himself.
He argues with the television until he falls asleep in front of it.
And then he dreams.
He dreams they never do restore the power.

About the Author: John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

A Small Matter Gone Swimming by John Grey

I tried to drown my anger in the Pacific Ocean,
in the shadow of my favorite sweeping dunes.
I figured that, waist deep in water, my irritation would feel misplaced.
Or replaced. Like my footprints, now foaming white.

My anger was knocked down by waves.
Its nose flooded with salt.
A jellyfish, proponent of that most alien of stings.
stole its virulent thunder.

Digging in sand, I startled a tiny crab.
Fuming as I was, I didn’t crush it.
It zigzagged away from me and anger doesn’t do that.
Rage is so linear. It spreads wider but it doesn’t turn corners.

Finally, the sun took aim and blow-torched whatever remained.
At dusk, I strolled the beach, a movement anathema to anger.
Ocean and horizon, long shoreline, pale sky:
It’s the job of abundance to make a man’s fury small.

About the Author: John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

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