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John Grey's Poems


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and the Round Table. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and Hollins Critic.


To Begin Again

Strolling down Thayer Street in the early morning, 

Amys dogged by that constant thought 

can you really start a life over?

Thats when a guy walks briskly by her,

a baby in a sling pressed tight to his chest,

the kid, from what she can see, sleeping soundly

as the father goes through his exercise routine. 

Hes her age. Okay maybe a little younger.

But within the range of possibility. 

He doesnt shoot a glance her way 

but he has a child to look after.

Thats what shed want. At least, eventually.

Then she thinks of his wife. 

And she hates it when she gets jealous for no reason.

Hes no doubt as happy and contented 

as a guy who gets upgraded to first class on a plane.

But why couldnt he be her husband?

Why couldnt that be her child?

No doubt, a full breakfast awaits him on his return home 

crisp bacon, three eggs over easy and steamy hot coffee.

And who knows, maybe even sex.

He has the body for it.

And she, no doubt, doesnt complain.

Amys ex was no stud stallion, thats for sure.

He was the type whod sit at the kitchen table for hours

trying to reconcile check book with bank balance.

His idea of passion was to smash his pocket calculator

against the wall when the numbers failed to agree.

They had a daughter together at least.

And the child is with her all the time but for a weekend once a month.

And Amys alive. And not totally unattractive.

With a job. And an apartment. She could start over.

Besides, her daughters life now includes schoolfriends but precludes mothers.

They wont really need each other again until the girl

is a woman also in her thirties and looking back on a screwed-up life.

Shell ask her mother, How come when it all went so wrong 

you were able to mop up the mess and start over?

I suffered enough for regret, Amy will reply.

Just not for bitterness.

Suicide Stream

Fresh bodies in the river,

pale-skinned suicides flay their flesh on rocks,

have contrived a journey, via current, 

from the cantilever bridge, a hundred 

feet down, and then wherever the current 

will take them, as their fingers grapple

unwittingly with passing banks,

or dig in soft soil until they lose a nail or two.

And, in answer to the screams from either shore,

stray feet kick up water,

and cold eyes give as good as they get,

though theres so much more the dead 

could tell the living.

Once brilliant kids, now dumber-than-crawdad corpses,

roll like pebbles and shells or drift like lumber,

not yet ravaged by time, still in their human features,

trusting their death to the prolonged gravity of river

from spring to bay to open sea where theyre sure 

to get an even shake, like the plankton, like the pleuston, 

like the nekton, when all righteous fish come to feed.


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